Keeping talent at home is always the goal of college athletic programs, but that’s easier said than done. One Stephenville High School graduate did decide to keep her skills in Stephenville and it’s something she said is one of the best decisions of her life.

Junior pitcher and right fielder for the TexAnn softball team Katelyn Conlee saw her numbers flourish while at Stephenville High School. When it came time to choose where she would go to college, she chose Tarleton State University - a decision she calls one of the best of her young life.

“My whole experience at Tarleton has been awesome,” she said. “When I was in high school I didn’t really think I’d end up here. I didn’t really know where I wanted to go to be honest. I came and visited Tarleton one day and I watched the girls play and I loved it. I just enjoy my time here a lot and it’s been a lot of fun. I’m glad I’ve gotten to continue to play here in my hometown.”

TexAnn head softball coach Julie Mata said Conlee is a pleasure to have her on the team.

“Katelyn is an amazing softball player,” said Mata. “She’s known for being super aggressive at the plate and it seems like after every game a coach from the other team will ask about her. She’s a great girl overall and she’s turned into one of the best players in the country.”

When the time comes for a high school senior athlete to choose where they want to take their talents, it can be a difficult choice to stay home or go elsewhere. But Conlee has a message for anyone in Erath County or the surrounding area who is debating between Tarleton and another school.

“I love the group of girls I play with and everyone just connects so well," she said. "Deciding to play here has turned into one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. If a girl is considering Tarleton I would tell her to come and play here. The atmosphere, field, coaches and teammates are honestly the best.”

With her third year on the team soon coming to an end, Conlee has helped the TexAnns get to a place they haven’t been since 2007 - the NCAA Regional Tournament.

“It’s been an awesome experience getting selected for the tournament,” Conlee said. “It didn’t really hit us until we were chosen in the selection show and we were all so happy to get to continue playing softball. None of us have gotten to experience this yet and we’re all just really looking forward it.”

Conlee and the No. 8 seeded TexAnn softball team will play No. 3 West Texas A&M at 6:30 p.m. tonight in Canyon.