Bella Dayton’s journey from the Wylie High School softball team to the University of Texas has been long, but she’s found her comfort zone in Austin.
After helping lead the Pirates to the playoffs her senior season in 2019, Dayton went on to the University of Arizona her freshman season. Getting some playing time but dealing with the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dayton elected to transfer to UT Austin and hasn’t looked back since.
The best part about the transfer has been the family aspect of the school, feeling closer to home.
“It’s kind of like family in Austin,” Dayton said. “It’s so much closer to home and I have so much family near Austin as well that it’s great to have the support system I have and the community on campus. It’s been great for my experience getting to know my teammates.”
The decision to transfer was a big one for Dayton, but it turned out to be the right decision for her future. She helped the Longhorns reach the Women’s College World Series last season, making the all-tournament team, followed by the super regionals this past season. Along with being closer to home, she’s been able to enhance her opportunities off the field and prepare with an education in Health Promotion & Behavioral Science at Austin.
“At first, I didn’t want to be in Texas,” Dayton said. “I lived here my whole life and wanted new experiences. Being away from home, wasn’t the biggest factor when I decided to change schools, but it became a factor for me. I wanted to think about life after softball and getting the best education I could, but also a school where my athletic capabilities could be seen and matched as well.”
She’s made her presence felt on the field, helping Texas win 92 games over the last two seasons. Dayton stepped into the lead-off hitting role for the 2023 season, having a career year with a .344 batting average and .413 on-base percentage, winning 38 out of 52 games played.
“I think [I’ve developed] defensively and as a leader since my freshman year,” Dayton said. “Every year, it’s a new team and new people of all different ages. Some of us just came out of high school and as a player, you have to learn their personalities and what they need after wins and losses. The leadership role has been a big factor that you have to get through.”
Making the championship game in her first season with Texas, the journey has been a learning experience for Dayton the entire way. She’s excited about her upcoming senior season with an extra year of eligibility, hoping to get back to the College World Series and get a national title to cap off her career.
“We’ve got a pretty good amount of talent returning for next year,” Dayton said. “Early on, when it comes to wanting to accomplish our goals, I think we can make it as far as we want and even further than that.”
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