Good things come to those who wait.
This well-known phrase extolls the virtue of patience. For the personification of patience, one need look no further than Husker junior Kylee Muir.
Muir came to Nebraska in 2010 as a highly-recruited power hitter from Portland, Ore. She had high hopes of making an immediate impact as a Husker, but that was not meant to be. Muir was unable to play as a freshman, so she redshirted instead. The next season, Muir was limited to seven appearances and four starts as she backed up All-Big 12 first baseman Ashley Guile. Muir expected to finally contribute in her third year with the program in 2012, but another setback limited her to just one game played.
Finally in her fourth year in the program, Muir’s patience was rewarded when she got her chance to contribute. And boy was she ready.
Nebraska opened its 2013 season at the Hotel Encanto Invitational on the campus of New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, N.M. Muir entered the 2013 season with two career hits – both singles – one walk, two RBIs and no runs scored in her first three years with the program. It took her the first game of the 2013 season to match or exceed all of those totals.
Muir finished 2-for-2 with a pair of doubles, two walks, two runs scored and two RBIs in Nebraska’s 14-5 season-opening victory over Illinois-Chicago. The next day, she again went 2-for-2 with another double against the Flames. In her third start of the weekend against UIC, Muir delivered a pair of moments four years in the making.
With Nebraska trailing 2-1 with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning, Muir stepped to the plate 0-for-2 on the day. The Huskers’ perfect opening weekend was in jeopardy, as Nebraska was down to its final five outs. But Muir quickly changed that, blasting a 2-1 pitch to the batting cage beyond the left-field fence for a game-tying, opposite-field solo home run. Having already tied the game once, Muir came to bat again with Nebraska trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the eighth inning. Muir worked the count to 2-0 before lacing a game-tying RBI single to right field. She then gave way to pinch runner Tatum Edwards, who went on to score the game-winning run in the Huskers’ 4-3 extra-inning victory.
Muir added a single in the Huskers’ final game of the opening weekend. In four starts that weekend, Muir batted .636 (7-for-11) with three doubles, one home run, four RBIs and a 1.182 slugging percentage. It was a special weekend for Muir, who had persevered through hardships, waiting for her moment to come.
“It’s been the best weekend ever for me,” Muir said following that opening weekend.
While a performance like that would be special for any athlete, to understand why it meant so much to Muir, one must first understand how much perseverance and patience she has displayed. Muir essentially lost two of her first three seasons to circumstances beyond her control, which is why the NCAA granted her a sixth year of eligibility this past winter.
Muir met her challenges head on. Her work ethic did not waiver. Instead, it grew stronger. Muir was voted by her teammates as Nebraska’s Lifter of the Year in both 2012 and 2013. That hard work set the stage for her breakthrough weekend, but it’s also what made that moment so special for Muir, her teammates and the Husker coaches.
“We can honestly say that we have never had a player do more on and off the field to put herself in a position where she can compete,” Nebraska Head Coach Rhonda Revelle said. “Kylee’s personal adversity and showing the strength and grace to move beyond it has been inspiring to teammates and coaches. She not only has earned it, but she has also earned the respect and admiration from her teammates in the weight room, classroom and on the field.”
Muir Was Encouraged to Reach Out to Nebraska
Muir didn’t expect to have to wait four seasons to make her mark on the program. She played for one of the nation’s top travel teams, the Oregon Northwest Bullets. Muir received recruiting interest from a number of schools, but she reached out to Nebraska on the advice from a trusted coach.
“Coach Carrie Kosderka helped me a lot through my recruiting process,” Muir said. “She coaches at Concordia University, an NAIA school in Portland. She knew of Coach Revelle and spoke very highly of her and told me I should send a letter to Nebraska.”
Muir did send that letter and soon after, Nebraska coaches made a point to catch Muir and the Bullets in action.
“My first memory of being recruited by Nebraska was when I was a sophomore in high school,” Muir said. “I remember being in Colorado for an exposure tournament and Coach Revelle was watching me and former Husker Ashley Guile, who was committed to Nebraska at the time. Ashley was playing on the field right next to me and after the game I met Ashley and her family and her mom told us we both hit a home run almost simultaneously.”
Muir’s power is one of the things that caught Nebraska’s attention. The Huskers had been a pitching-dominant team and were looking to add more power to their lineup. Muir, a 6-0 left-handed hitter, certainly fit the mold. Revelle quickly set up a visit and Muir fell in love with Nebraska.
“I realized Nebraska was the school for me when I went on my unofficial visit,” she said. “I had visited a couple other schools but the first day of my visit, I knew I would end up at Nebraska.
“The reason I chose Nebraska was because of the coaches. I could tell they cared about the players beyond softball. The players were also very welcoming, and I could tell that the team was like a family.”
Dad Played a Big Role in Muir’s Career
Family is a big reason why Muir picked up the sport. She didn’t start playing softball until she was 12, a late start compared to most of her teammates. But like many of her teammates, family was the reason she gave the sport a shot.
“I started playing because of my dad,” she said. “He played baseball at Portland State, so he sparked my interest. My father has always been my inspiration to play especially at a young age. We would go hit together and his passion for the game motivated me at a young age to work hard. As a young player, I looked up to my father. His passion for the game has always inspired me.”
Dennis Muir coaches his daughter with the Northwest Bullets, and he was there last spring when Kylee got to celebrate Nebraska’s trip to the Women’s College World Series in her home state following the Huskers’ NCAA Super Regional win at No. 3 Oregon. Dennis then made the trip to Oklahoma City, where he saw Kylee go 2-for-2 with a pair of singles at the Women’s College World Series.
Both of Muir’s at bats at last year’s WCWS came in a pinch-hitting role. In her first four years in the program, Muir has only seen action as the designated player or as a pinch-hitter. This season, coaches moved Muir to the outfield, where she finally has the chance to be a full-time starter.
“We moved Kylee to the outfield because we felt it matched up with her strengths better, and it gave us an opportunity to get her powerful bat in the lineup,” Revelle said. “Kylee will see playing time in both left and right field this season, and she will likely hit right in the middle of our lineup as we look to her as an RBI producer.
“Kylee has earned her way into significant playing time for the first time as a fifth-year junior. We don’t know too many people that would have fought that long to finally reach this point.”
Not too many would have, which is why Revelle and the entire Husker program hope good things come to Muir this season as a reward for her patience and perseverance.
Three Things You Didn’t Know About Kylee
1) She went to a Spanish immersion school and learned how to read in Spanish before English.
2) She loves any type of bread, especially challah bread.
3) Even though she can’t dance, she can do the moonwalk.