from her leadoff spot, that opponents should allow her to run directly to second base—she’s going to end up there anyway.
It’s pointless for her to go anywhere near first base. Really.
Last season, Roddam was a perfect 32-for-32 in stealing bases and setting a new school record in the process.
She is what you call in baseball/ softball venacular, “a walking double.”
In this her senior year, Roddam is set to take her place alongside the great Rockdale shortstops of the past and the Lady Tigers have been showered with a wealth of talent at the No. 6 position.
Ever since the program’s inception in 1994, Rockdale has had symbiotic skill up the middle almost in succession, beginning with Theresa Tindle (1994-96); Rainey Eanes (1997-2000); Felicia Montelongo (2002-2003); Toni Ellis (2003-06) and Kaitlynne Schnerr (2007-08).
There is a lineage involved; Roddam and Eanes are first cousins.
Although shortstop is her third position to be played on the Lady Tigers—she started out in left field and then second base before settling in at short—she is a natural at the position.
(Roddam was all-district at both previous positions).
And let’s be honest, most teams put their best athlete in the middle of the infield.
Kristen Gunter, starting her second season at the helm of the Lady Tigers, found a built in safety net in Roddam when she took the job last year.
“Kassie has a way of making her presence known with her athleticism and her attitude,” said Gunter, herself an all-state player in high school at Brenham. “I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to coach someone on her level.”
“She has put herself in a great position to leave this season with numerous awards,” said Gunter. “The one thing that makes Kassie stand out is her presence on the field. She has a great way of pushing herself and her teammates to be better.”
The consumate leadoff hitter who most times fouls off a half-dozen pitches per at bat, Roddam has crossed the plate a school record 80
LADY TIGER FILE
Coach—Kristen Gunter (2nd year, 12-
2009 district—8-4, 3rd
Playoffs—Lost to Splendora in area
Key losses—2B Julie Birkhead, 3B
Morgan Rios, P Mindy Cortez.
Key returnees—SS Kassie Roddam (All-
State, .449, 32 SB), OF Kelsey Fisher
(.329), 1B Mac Tater (.311, 9 RBI).
Key newcomers—Fr. UT Marissa
Mireles; Jr. OF Krista Phillips; Jr. OF
Lacie Lewis; Jr. IF Meagan Hearn.
District opener—March 5 vs. Cameron
at RHS Softball Complex.
times in her career.
Despite her top spot in the order and slap-hitter style of batting, Roddam still led the team with a .565 slugging percentage.
“Our team is better because she demands excellence,” said Gunter. “She is not one to sit back and let her ability come to her..she goes and gets it, she makes herself better, she pushes herself and she excepts criticism and changes it. To me that is an all around athlete. I am looking forward to what Kassie is going to bring her senior year.”
“The great thing about Kassie is that she knows she can’t do it on her own,” Gunter said. “She leans on her teammates and has made her teammates better.
“The underclassmen look up to her and hope to be just like her. Our team is great because of her leadership and work ethic not just her athleticism.”
Speaking of underclassmen, Roddam is going to have to run herd on a few as the Lady Tigers lost three starters last season and there are only two other seniors on the roster, Lacy Hurtig and Kelsey Fischer.
“I couldn’t ask for better seniors,” Gunter said. “They lead by example and are always giving their all and its contagious. They will be the glue to the team’s success.”
Like Roddam, Fischer (.329) is a four-year letterman and is a steady presence stationed in the outfield.
Gunter and the Lady Tigers had to do an about-face when freshman Kayleigh Montelongo injured her knee in basketball and will be unavailable to the team for the season.
A star in the youth leagues, Montelongo was expected to be Rockdale’s pitcher of the future.
Instead, junior lefthander Mac Tater (.311, team-high 9 RBI)—who saw some time on the hill last season when she wasn’t manning first base—will be pressed into action and will probably be the Lady Tigers’ No. 1 pitcher with Roddam waiting in the wings should she get in trouble.
“Mac has worked harder than anyone in the off-season,” Gunter says. “She has put herself in a great position to be successful and I cant wait to see her hard work pay off.
“The two compliment each other very well and will be a good mix.”
Other veterans include Hailey Offield, Britta Byrd, Briana Mireles, Britni Newlin and Jill Young.
Newcomers that could find themselves playing key roles include freshman utility player Marissa Mireles, junior outfielder Krista Phillips, junior outfielder Lacie Lewis and junior infielder Meagan Hearn.
After a one-year absence, Rockdale (12-11) returned to the state playoffs in 2009 only to be overmatched by state power and No. 5 ranked Splendora.
Obviously Gunter’s goal is to move a little farther down the line and to make that trip, the Lady Tigers must improve on the 85 runs they scored in 2009. They did not have a single batter in double figure RBIs.
“This off-season we have worked extremely hard on our offense,” she said. “The girls have put in many hours trying to perfect their swings. It has paid off.
“In the last two scrimmages we have scored 25 runs. I told them if we continue to score that many runs we will win ball games. So I feel that our hitting will be our main strength this year.”
With Roddam as the anchor, Gunter still insists on defensive intensity.
“Along with that I feel as if we always field a solid defense,” she said. “My philosophy is defense wins ball games so as long as we continue to put the ball in play and our defense is solid we will make a great run.
“We are putting our focus inside of the team this year and worrying less about opponents.”
NOTES— The Lady Tigers are 36-7 in the five year history of the RHS Softball Complex including a 7-1 mark last season... David Smiley is Gunter’’s new assistant, replacing Trevor Marshall, who resigned earlier in the school year.
Despite standing out in 39 degree weather for three hours, the Lady Tiger bats were hot and lively in their 14-9 victory as they teed up the 2010 season Tuesday night at the Softball Complex.
Feb. 16 Robinson 5/7
Feb. 18/20 Gatesville Tournament TBA
Feb. 19 Granger 5/7
Feb. 23 @ Lexington 5/7
Feb 25-27 Bell Rivals Tournament
Mar 1 Thorndale 5/7
Mar 5 Cameron* 5/7
Mar 9 @ Madisonville* 5/7
Mar 11/13 Weimar Tournament TBA
Mar 12 Bryan Rudder* 5/7
Mar 16 @ Navasota* 5/7
Mar 18 Caldwell* 5/7
Mar 27 @ Taylor* 10/12
Mar 30 @ Cameron* 5-7
Apr 1 Madisonville* 5-7
Apr 6 @ Bryan Rudder* 5-7
Apr 9 Navasota* 5-7
Apr 13 Caldwell* 5-7
Apr 16 Liberty Hill 5-7
Apr 21 @ Taylor* 5-7
* denotes District 24-3A game
Year Coach Record
2009 Kristen Gunter 12-11
2008 Cheryl Dickens 8-14
2007 Jessica Poole* 19-11
2006 Jessica Poole* 23-2
2005 Jessica Poole*# 27-5
2004 Audrey Wolf 10-14
2003 Jeff Maynard 12-10-1
2002 Jeff Maynard 9-16
2001 Thomas Shives 17-15
2000 Thomas Shives 14-9
1999 Mike Duggan 14-12
1998 Mike Duggan 14-11
1997 Dean Hollingsworth 15-4
1996 Jamie Boswell* 16-9
1995 Jamie Boswell* 22-4
1994 Jamie Boswell* 16-7
* District champions
# Regional finals
Trailing 9-8 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning, the Lady Tigers strung together six runs to seize the victory.
Rockdale sent 11 batters to the plate and used four walks and three hits to mount the comeback.
Hurtig and Fischer walked and Roddam singled to load the bases followed by Newlin’s infield single RBI to score Hurtig and tie the game at 9-9.
Tater coaxed a bases loaded walk to score Roddam and push Rockdale ahead 10-9, then Offield’s hit drove in another run to make it 11-9.
Lewis also had an RBI single and Young a ground out RBI in the inning.
The Lady Tigers had closed the gap by crossing the plate three times in the fifth off new Robinson pitcher Carol Briggs.
Offield—who had three RBI all of last season—sparked Rockdale with three hits and three runs batted in, while Roddam, Newlin, Mireles and Lewis rapped out two hits apiece.
Fischer (triple), Newlin, and Tater knocked in two runs apiece.
Tater recorded the complete game, allowing 13 hits and five walks, while striking out three.
Rockdale 14, Robinson 9 Robinson 130 212 0— 9 13 0 Rockdale 023 036 X—14 15 2
Alonzo, C. and Alonzo, G., Briggs (5); Newlin and Tater. W-Tater (1-0). L-Alonzo (0-1). 2B-Baker (Rob). 3BFischer (Roc). Records—Rockdale 1-0, Robinson 0-1.
Highlights: Offield 3-4, 3RBI; Roddam, Newlin, Mireles, Lewis 2 hits apiece; Fischer, Newlin, Tater, 2 RBI each.