Hodges continues dominance as starting catcher
By: Brandon Vickrey, Sports Editor
In softball and baseball, the most vocal player on the team is often behind the plate. The catcher sees the whole diamond, therefore is in charge of directing teammates on balls put in play and positioning the defensive alignment. At PHS, junior Haley Hodges fits the catching prototype.Hodges is the most experienced player on the Portage varsity softball team after making her debut as starting catcher as a freshman and holding that position ever since. Hodges, an honor roll student who balances advanced classes, orchestra and softball, provides the leadership behind the plate that head coach Lisa Hayes looks for in a catcher.
“I just try to lead by action more than anything,” Hodges said. “I just play my hardest and play my best every single game.”
Catching is a physically demanding position that takes a physical toll on players and can be detrimental to offensive statistics. That has not been the case for Hodges, who has been one of the most productive Indians at the dish this year.
“I love being a part of every play in the game,” she said. “I love being in control and calling the pitches. I think it helps me when I’m batting too because I get to see a lot of pitches.”
Hodges works with a three girl pitching rotation comprised of junior Heather Zengler and freshmen Kylie Jones and Kaitlin Doud.
“Kaitlin and Kylie are both really young, but they’re doing well. Heather has been good too. They’re all working really hard and they listen to what I have to say,” Hodges said.
Hodges, who calls all of the pitches without receiving signs from the dugout, said that she does not get shaken off that often, despite the fact that she described all of the pitchers as opinionated.
Hodges launched a two-run home run to provide the turning point of Portage’s upset victory over Lake Central on April 18. Hodges has combined with fellow junior Lauren Murray to form a formidable middle of the Portage lineup this season.
Hodges, who verbally committed to play her college softball at the University of Southern Indiana, has the benefit of being coached by a former catcher. Hayes has provided additional instruction and tips to Hodges this season since she has experience at her position.
“Coach Hayes has made us work harder and get better,” Hodges said. “She’s great because she knows what it’s like; she’s been there, done that. She’s always really interested in helping me out and making me better.”
Hodges, who plans to major in biology at USI, has helped some of her young teammates adjust to life on the varsity team this season. She knows what it is like to play varsity as a freshman after having done so herself two years ago.
“When I was a freshman on varsity I was definitely timid,” she said. “I wasn’t afraid of the upperclassmen, but I wasn’t as outgoing as I am now.”
Hodges cited Natalie Korpak and Kylie Someson, both of whom are pitchers that graduated in 2011, as two veteran players that helped ease her transition onto the varsity team. She is keeping the cycle moving by showing this year’s underclassmen what it takes to be an Indian.