Aug. 19 was not just another day at school for Avery Hodge.
While the first week of the new school year had worn off for most of the kids at Tompkins High School, the sophomore’s excitement and anticipation lasted a little longer when she learned that Monday she was picked for the 2019 USA Softball U-17 Women’s National team, which will compete for a berth to the 2020 World Baseball Softball Confederation U-18 Women’s Softball World Cup.
The team will play Oct. 10-20 in Barranquilla, Colombia. Hodge is one of three Texas players named to the 15-person team.
“When I found out from my (club softball) coach Scott Smith that I was being considered, I was super honored because I was going to get the chance to represent our country,” Hodge said.
The Oklahoma verbal commit was selected for the team based on her performance in club softball tournaments, like the Triple Crown Sparkler in Colorado and the PGF National Championship in California.
Hodge has played softball since she was 4 years old and credits her coaches for her ability. Newt Schnoor, Audrey Gibson, Kelli Jacoby, Bill Jones, Smith, and Tompkins softball coach Katy Agiannidis all played a hand.
“Each coach has had their own touch on making me become the player I am today, and part of why I love the sport,” Hodge said. “Softball is competitive, but when it comes down to why I love it, it is the lifelong memories and friendships I get to cherish.”
Hodge had a stellar freshman year last season, showing such moxie and skill that Agiannidis made her the starting second baseman for a program quickly establishing itself as a force in Region III.
Hodge hit .549 with 25 RBIs, 62 runs scored and a .593 on-base percentage for the Falcons last year.
“She’s a confident kid, and she takes care of business,” Agiannidis said of Hodge after Hodge went 2-for-4, including a triple, in a bi-district playoff win over Kempner. “That rallies everybody behind her, knowing she gets the job done. Once she starts to get things going, it’s contagious.”
Hodge said Agiannidis helped her learn how to be a leader and how to encourage and support teammates. She also enjoyed being a part of program history, as the Falcons made it to the Class 6A regional semifinals for the first time.
“High school is different from tournament softball because I’m playing for my school and community,” Hodge said. “I love having their support.”
Hodge was generally a slap hitter last season, taking advantage of her speed as the Falcons’ leadoff batter. But during the offseason, she has worked on becoming a “triple threat,” which means to bunt, slap or swing away for power. She’s put many hours into her swing with the help of two swing coaches.
Hodge is ready for her encore with Tompkins, beginning with a tune-up with the USA U-17 team next month.
“I am looking forward to playing with athletes from all over the United States, and getting the opportunity to represent my country,” Hodge said. “I am also excited to travel to a new country with my parents, who made this all possible. Getting the chance to experience and play on this team will help prepare me to play in big time situations, like in college.”