If there’s one thing Kendyl Lange loves more than playing softball, it’s cheering on Duke athletics.

Lange, who is from Hallettsville, grew up a Duke sports fan after family visits to Durham, N.C.

“My mom started watching Duke basketball in high school and read all of coach K’s (Mike Krzyzewski) books,” Lange said. “When my parents got married, she introduced Duke to my dad and they started making trips each year. They started taking me and my sisters and that’s what pulled me.”

Lange will go from being a fan to becoming a Duke athlete when she begins her junior year of college as a member of the Blue Devils’ third-ever softball team.

Lange, 20, played two seasons at NCAA Division I, University of Central Florida before entering the NCAA transfer portal and enrolling at Duke in July.

“When I stepped on campus, it was this feeling of excellence,” Lange said. “You’re held to the highest standard athletically and academically. Being able to get an education at Duke is something I will be able to hold onto forever. I’ve been a lifelong Duke fan, so this is all surreal.”

Lange has played softball most of her life – mainly select ball during her early years before landing a spot on the Hallettsville varsity team where she flourished for four seasons.

Lange played for the Lady Brahmas from 2014-2017 and put together an impressive resume.

She was selected to the Texas Sports Writers Association all-state team twice and was the Victoria Advocate defensive player of the year in 2015.

She was also a first-team all-district selection for three seasons, the District 28-3A Newcomer of the Year in 2014 and was named to the UIL All-State tournament team after helping Hallettsville reach the state tournament in 2015.

Lange hit .333 and scored 14 runs in 31 games last season for Central Florida.

“Family has been my biggest inspiration,” Lange said. “I can say for sure my grandmother Lange, who passed away last year, was my biggest fan. I know she is up there watching every step I make.”

Lange plans to play in the infield at Duke but was an outfielder for Central Florida.

Duke is coached by Marissa Young, who became the program’s first head coach in 2015.

“I have always been someone who is going to give all they have every time I step on the field,” Lange said. “That’s how I’ve always played the game, and I hope to bring that leadership aspect. I want to play every game like it’s my last.”

Lange’s family is no stranger to the game of softball. Her sister, Kenna, also played at Hallettsville and graduated last year. Her other sister, Kenzi, who has committed to Sam Houston State University, is about to begin her senior year, while her youngest sister, Ky, is currently playing select ball.

Kendyl hopes to lead by example each time she steps on the field and hopes other athletes will follow suit in working hard to achieve their dreams.

“It’s really amazing to be able to lay that stone down for the girls,” Kendyl said. “Since I transferred, I had a girl message me saying they want to be a Duke softball player. They should always work hard and go after the dreams they never thought they could achieve. Shoot for the stars, and it will lead you to experiences and people that will impact your life forever.”

Kendyl will study in the Markets & Management Certificate Program at Duke and plans to major in sociology.

Lange and her new teammates begin practice Aug. 26.

Duke’s season-opening series will be against a familiar opponent when the Blue Devils play at Central Florida Feb. 7-9.

“I never imagined I’d play for Duke,” she said. “I was walking on campus and I couldn’t believe it. Playing softball has changed my life. Working hard day in and day out has really shaped me as a person and a player.”

Rey Castillo is the assistant sports editor for the Victoria Advocate. He may be reached at rcastillo@vicad.com, 361-574-1240 or on Twitter @reycastillo361.

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