Enter Coach Kyle Bennett. Bennett was a coach of one of the teams that were part of a large softball organization. However, he saw an opportunity that made better sense for his daughter to play select softball at a higher level without all of the fees that are associated with the larger softball organizations. He met with Wardlow and the two agreed on this same philosophy. This has proved to be a great relationship as Coach Bennett’s 04 Texas Travelers are one of the top teams in the country, as well as being selected to represent the state of Texas in the 2015 ASA/USA National Championship held in Normal, Illinois.
Currently, Kuyrkendall is an Associate Scout for the Texas Rangers, charged with the scouting of amateur players at the college and high school level. Since 1991, he has been an assistant or head baseball coach for Delta State University, Mississippi College, North Florida Community College, and Southwest Community College. At the four-year level, he helped lead Mississippi College to three league titles in his seven seasons as head coach, and was the NCAA Regional Tournament host in 2003. His players personally achieved individual recognition as the 2006 NCAA leader in home runs, 2004 NCAA leader in saves, 2002 NCAA leader in strikeouts per 9 innings pitched, American Southwest Conference records for most home runs in a single season – 2006, most home runs in a single game – 2000, 2002, 2006, Conference leader in every offensive category – 2006, and most saves in a single season – 2004. His recruiting efforts resulted in league Player of the Year awards – 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, and the Freshman of the Year – 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004. At the community college level, he saw 68 of his former players sign with four-year institutions. In 17 total seasons as a head coach he had 23 players drafted or signed with professional organizations. The most recent was Kade Scivicque of LSU, who was drafted this year in the fourth round by the Detroit Tigers. Scivicque finished his senior season as the All SEC catcher and was the only Tiger player named to this year’s All College World Series team in Omaha. He was also a finalist for the Johnny Bench Award, given to the nation’s top collegiate catcher.
However, Coach Kuyrkendall was most proud of his teams achieving 90% graduation rates or higher and a 3.00 GPA or better.
Now some could say that Lee Kuyrkendall only knows baseball. However, that is far from the end of the story. In addition to playing baseball at the collegiate level, he also played men’s fastpitch softball for several years during a time when it was a very strong sport around the country. He was fortunate to play with and against some great players such as Glenn Moore, current Head Coach of the Baylor University softball team.
“After 24 years of coaching baseball, plus my experience playing men’s fastpitch and helping my own daughter get started in the sport, I can tell you that I am right at home coaching the Texas Travelers and loving every minute of it. Fastpitch softball has grown tremendously and the outstanding Texas Travelers organization embodies everything youth sports should be. I look forward to giving back to the girls and the softball community. Our organization will work with the parents to develop strong, confident young women, and together we will help prepare them to play high school softball, as well as have an opportunity to play at the collegiate level” shares Coach Kuyrkendall. “We are excited to have Lee and his family as part of the Texas Travelers organization. In addition to his coaching experience and history of success in helping young people grow and mature, he will have valuable relationships that will be beneficial for the future of Texas Travelers players. I can’t think of a better, more qualified individual to coach the 03 team. The girls and their families will love this guy and how he will coach them” adds Coach Kyle Bennett of the 04 Texas Travelers.
This is the second high profile coaching addition the Texas Travelers organization has added. In May, the 04 Texas Travelers added Baylor Bears legendary shortstop Jordan Strickland to their coaching staff, where she recently helped coach the girls to the 2015 Fastpitch & Firecrackers Championship, as well as a third place finish in the ASA/USA Class A National Championship Tournament.
The Texas Travelers are not interested in making money on players and their family. They are excited about developing the girls, preparing them to play as a freshman on their high school varsity team and then having the ability to play at the collegiate level upon graduating from high school. With their rich history and strong connections to college coaches across the country, the girls just have to work hard, show heart, keep their academics strong and continue to be coached by the best.