Passion for the game and unwavering determination define this rising star. She is relentless behind the dish, but when this rising star isn’t playing softball, she’s doing everything she can to catch an Astros game.
Caylynn Esparza loves her ‘Stros.
“I grew up watching them play," she said. "If we’re ever free, my dad is always checking to see if we can make it to a game. We even turn on the radio on our way home from practice whenever they’re playing. Our house is also full of Astros stuff.”
Esparza, also known as “KK," started playing softball nine years ago and is ranked as the No. 13 recruit in the class of 2021. She is committed to Ole Miss and her eyes are on the prize. She wants to win a World Series and the Astros inspired her to want it more than ever.
“It just made me think how all the guys on that team were kids at one time and had that dream," she said. "I want to be able to do that. I have that dream and I want to go through with it. I want to win a World Series or championship whether it be in college or at the pro level.”
The Friendswood native is currently playing for Hotshots 14U Premier, but she is counting down the days till she gets to step on the field with Ole Miss across her chest.
Ole Miss took fans by surprise this last season by winning the SEC tournament and making their second straight Super Regional appearance.
“They’re up-and-coming," Esparza said. "They’re like the underdogs. People don’t really expect them to be at the top, but they find a way and get it done. Every single girl on that team has passion for the game and that’s where I want to be. I want to be surrounded by that and at that level.”
Deciding on a school can be difficult, but Esparza knew Oxford would be her home.
When asked about her decision, she replied, “Eventually it came down to two schools and it was so stressful having to decide, but I knew my heart was set on Ole Miss. As soon as I stepped foot on campus, I knew that’s where I wanted to go.”
Grad Year: 2021
Club Team: Diamond Sports Hotshots 14U Premier
High School: Friendswood
College: Ole Miss
How would you describe your family?
We all have passion and we work hard for what we want. With everything that we do, we make sure to give it our all. We set high goals for ourselves and we do our best to achieve them.
Other than your family, who is your biggest role model?
Kyla Holas. She is a pitching coach in Houston and I go catch with her. She was the head coach at University of Houston and I grew up going to those games since it’s not too far from my hometown. She has made a huge impact on my life and how I play the game.
Do you have any other hobbies/sports?
My younger siblings play baseball and softball, so I spend a lot of my free time practicing with them. Anytime I have a free day throughout the week, I’ll go out to the field with them and we’ll pitch to each other. I just can’t stay away from the game. We love it so much.
Any superstitions on the field?
I always wear my ponytail on the left side of my head. I don’t know why, but I’ve always done it ever since I was little and I can’t play the game anyway else.
Have you ever had any setbacks that kept you from playing? How did you get back?
This spring I tore my hamstring. I had to sit out a few games and watch my team play, which was frustrating for me because I always want to play. Whenever I was cleared to play again, I made sure to put in the work to become better than I was before the injury.
How do you get pumped before games?
I always listen to music. Whenever I went to Ole Miss, they kept playing a remix version of “Throw It Up Mississippi” and that’s the main song that I listen to right now. I have to listen to that at least once before each game.
What’s your go-to pregame snack?
Sushi. You can never go wrong with the Shaggy Dog Roll. It’s so good.
What is one of your favorite memories from travel ball?
Playing in the championship for 12U PGF. It was so much fun. Teams from California usually make the championship, so knowing that two teams from Houston made it that year was special for our community.
Favorite TV show right now?
Riverdale. I can’t stop watching it.
What is your favorite movie?
A League of Their Own. I love Dottie so much. She played with so much passion and she was the leader of the group.
Do you relate to her in any way?
I think I relate to her when it comes to wanting to play. She played with a high baseball IQ and she just stood out.
If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?
New York City. There’s so much to do over there. I want to go so bad.
What does your family do for Christmas?
We usually celebrate it at our house then head to our aunt’s house to have a nice dinner with the entire family. We also play Secret Santa and kickball.
Who is your favorite Astros player?
George Springer. No one expected him to be the MVP. Everyone was expecting either Carlos Correa or Jose Altuve. He was the underdog who came out on top. He’s just the best.
Written by Allie Martinez