Fourteen months ago Megan Kleist decided to leave Oregon. It was not much later when she realized her love for the game had faded.
"Kinda the whole experience at Oregon kinda deteriorated my love for the game. Just because of everything going on," she says. "Social media gets real bad. I got yelled at. I got stopped in certain places saying like how could you."
Kleist had a decorated career with the Ducks. She was the Pac 12 pitcher of the year, first team All-American, she went to the Women's College World Series twice. But when Mike White left after the 2018 season, Megan decided she was ready to leave too.
"I've always been kind of a perfectionist. I love doing art but the painting's gotta be great," Kleist said. "It can't just be okay."
The quest to restore her joy led her back to a childhood travel ball coach, Louisiana assistant Mike Roberts.
"Growing up with him, he was like my second dad. I've had the privilege to learn from him. His techniques. But I've also had the opportunity to grow with him and learn him as a father figure," Megan said.
Kleist was also a former teammate of Gerri Ann Glasco, who was a Cajuns assistant when Kleist committed in December of 2018. She knew head coach Gerry Glasco from Geri Ann's days with the Ducks and it was Gerry that really sold Megan on Lafayette. His message was not about winning, but falling in love with the game all over again.
"If you get the love back by the end of the season, than I did my job," Megan says, recalling her conversations with coach Glasco. "If you love the game and love what you're doing you're going to play well too."
Kleist sat out the 2019 season, finishing her degree at Oregon. She joined the Cajuns for the 2020 campaign and is finding inspiration from teammate and fellow All-American Summer Ellyson.
"Knowing that there's someone there of the same caliber or even better to pick you up when you're struggling is a relief," said Kleist.
"We compliment each other as far as what we throw," adds Ellyson. "How we think about the game. We both have the same level of intelligence."
Kleist is ready to frame one final masterpiece with the Cajuns and hopes that painting includes a national championship.
"All the hard work. All the struggles. all of the happiness. All the sadness. All the tears. All the sweat. All that work. I want to make it all worth it."
Louisiana Softball opens the season Friday, February 7th against Ball State. Following that game the Cajuns face UTSA.