No one saw it coming. At least, not with a group of seniors leading the way. Not with a solid group of upperclassmen, led by four seniors who had spent the last three years building ACU soccer into the dominant program that it is today. No one saw it coming, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
No one expected Baylee Mitchell, a freshman forward from Flower Mound, to come onto the ACU women’s soccer team and perform the way she has thus far. Through the Wildcats’ 13 games, so far Mitchell has been the leading scorer for ACU with seven goals, five more than seniors Taylor Brown, Tiffany Ysassi and junior Lindsey Jones who all have just two. Mitchell is also leading the team in points (14) and game-winning goals (four).
“Coming in as a freshman, you’re almost perceived as the underdog,” Mitchell said. “A lot of these girls have been here and they know how things work and what’s required. It was a bit of a learning curve and I really had to work hard at preparing my game to the college level. Everything is faster and quicker than any other level I’ve played at.”
On top of leading her team offensively, Mitchell is also one of the top overall performers in the Southland Conference. She is tied for first in game-winning goals, second in goals and fifth in points.
Mitchell has not only proven to be a constant threat to score, but even more so in the clutch. She’s had numerous goals that have either tied games up, given ACU the lead in the late going or set the pace for a solid Wildcat win.
“A lot of times it really lights a fire whenever we get scored on and it makes me want to come back and score and tie things up or take the lead,” Mitchell said. “Coming off the bench, I always make sure I do my job and stay calm, not freak out, and do what I’m supposed to. Being a forward, my job at times can be to score, but I never try to do more than I’m asked to do by coach or my team. When we play together and everyone does their job, that’s when we win.”
Mitchell began playing soccer when she was five-years-old and hasn’t stopped since. She grew up watching her older sister play and fell in love with the game. When ACU came knocking on her door, she couldn’t resist.
“I tried a lot of sports when I was younger, but I always found my way back to soccer,” Mitchell said. “The more I played it, the more I realized how much of a passion I have for the game and how much love I have for it. For me, it really is more of an escape from regular, everyday life. It gives me a chance to break away from all that and focus on something amazing and something I love to do.”
Her sister, Taylor, also plays soccer at the collegiate level. To top it off, she plays in the Southland Conference for Lamar University. ACU is scheduled to take on Lamar on Oct. 24 at Shotwell Stadium.
In preparing for this season, Mitchell credits a lot of her success to her upperclassman teammates who gave her the confidence to be great. She also believes it was a lot of her hard work in preparing for a Div. I level of competition.
“Many of the seniors really showed me how to play and what to do in situations and how to adjust in the games,” Mitchell said. “They were huge and still continue to help me everyday. I also trained harder this summer than in any other time of my life. A lot of it was fitness. College ball is played at such a higher tempo than anything else so I knew I had to prepare for that.”
Hopefully, Mitchell can continue to come up big for ACU. In the Wildcats’ game against Texas Wesleyan, Mitchell had the game-winning goal in overtime to give ACU the win. Then, against Texas Pan-American, she scored twice to lead ACU to a convincing 5-1 win. Mitchell also scored twice last weekend, against conference opponents Nicholls State and Southeastern Louisiana. Mitchell has scored two goals in ACU’s last three games.