SAVANNA — When Bryn Houlton joined Savanna’s high school softball team as a freshman in 2010, she quickly transformed the team. With her in the pitching circle, the Lady Bulldogs would win both the Pitt 8 Tournament and Conference all four of her years and take home multiple district and regional championships.
The Lady Dawgs also made three trips to the state tournament with Houlton as their ace, reaching the Class 2A state championship game in 2012 and 2013. Houlton said those trips to State are among her favorite memories as a Lady Dawg.
Houlton added another accolade to her long list Wednesday, becoming the first Savanna softball player to earn a Division I scholarship when she signed with the University of Kansas in a ceremony held at the Savanna High School cafeteria.
“I just could never imagine it, and now it’s here,” Houlton said. She added that playing college softball has been a dream for her since about the eighth grade.
Kansas competes in the Big 12, home of 2013 Women’s College World Series champion Oklahoma. Though the Sooners graduated pitching ace Keilani Ricketts, Houlton’s favorite player, last year, Houlton said she’s still excited by the idea of playing the defending champs.
The Jayhawks last won their conference in 2006, and KU has just one WCWS appearance and no titles in its history. The Big 12 may be the second-best softball conference behind the PAC-12, with at least one fifth-place finish or higher in seven of the last nine WCWS tournaments.
Ken Myers, Houlton’s coach on the Tulsa-based Oklahoma Diamond Girls travel softball team, called Houlton an “absolute pleasure to have on our team” and said he thought Houlton could start helping the Jayhawks as early as next season.
“They will expose her to more of a sophisticated style and approach to pitching,” Myers said. “Her strategy will not just be an overall game-strategy, it’ll be per batter. It’ll be out-by-out, player-by-player in the box. She’ll become sophisticated with reference to her repertoire of pitches, too. She’s just not going to throw a fastball and a change-up. She’s going to throw it all over and figure out a way to challenge the batters.”