The Texas A&M softball team, which was hit hard by graduation and transfers, has added former Baylor pitcher Kendall Potts and former Texas-San Antonio shortstop Ashlynn Walls, both of whom are eligible to compete immediately.
Potts, a graduate transfer, has two years of eligibility remaining. The right-hander was 21-4 in two seasons with the Bears before suffering a season-ending injury five games into the 2017 season. Walls batted .299 with five home runs, 10 doubles and 15 runs batted in to make the Conference USA’s all-freshman team last season.
Walls and Potts could potentially fill holes on a 44-18 team that came within an out of advancing to the Women’s College World Series, but lost six seniors to graduation and had two juniors transfer.
Walls started 49 games at shortstop for the 20-30 Roadrunners, compiling a .957 fielding average. A&M has to replace Kristen Cuyos, a four-year starter at shortstop who had 237 career starts.
“Ashlynn Walls brings athleticism to our infield,” A&M head coach Jo Evans said in a release. “She is a hard worker and eager for the opportunity to compete for a position in our lineup.”
Walls was a four-year starter in high school at Pearland.
“I have been a fan of Texas A&M ever since I was a little girl,” Walls said. “To have the opportunity to become a part of such an amazing team is surreal.”
Walls, who typically was third in the batting lineup, hit .368 in eight games against teams that made the NCAA tournament, including a 3-for-3 effort against Texas State All-American Randi Rupp.
Potts was 8-3 as a freshman in 2015, going 2-0 in Big 12 play to make the league’s all-freshman team. She was 13-1 in 2016 with 105.1 strikeouts in 82 innings. She was 2-0 in eight league games.
Potts was projected to be the team’s ace in 2017, but suffered an arm injury, receiving a medical redshirt that season. The two-time Big 12 Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll member, who earned an undergraduate degree in health, kinesiology and leisure studies, was just a student last season at Baylor, training and finishing her degree.
Ironically, the Lady Bears reached regionals this past season and played at Texas A&M. Baylor lost to McNeese State in the first round, but bounced back to reach the title game, losing to the Aggies 10-4 with Baylor coach Glenn Moore citing a lack of pitching depth as one of the reasons. Now the Aggies are hopeful Potts can bring them depth and experience.
“Kendall Potts knows what it takes to compete at the collegiate level and has proven success in a Power 5 conference,” Evans said. “She brings experience to our young staff and I’m excited for her to take on the challenge of competing in the SEC.”
Potts played in high school at Mansfield Legacy for former A&M player Michelle Mayfield.
“I am grateful to the coaching staff for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this team and represent Texas A&M on the field,” Potts said.
A&M has to replace 80 percent of its pitching victories and 76 percent of its innings after losing senior pitchers Trinity Harrington and Lexi Smith and having junior Samantha Show transfer to Oklahoma State. The trio were 112-45 in their careers in 163 starts.
A&M also has to replace five position starters, having lost first baseman Tori Vidales, catcher Ashley Walters, center fielder Erica Russell and Cuyos to graduation with junior left fielder Keeli Milligan transferring to Louisiana-Lafayette.