If there is a silver lining about the 2020 softball season getting cut short, it’s that the Katy Tigers’ reign as state champion is extended until someone can challenge them next season, …
If there is a silver lining about the 2020 softball season getting cut short, it’s that the Katy Tigers’ reign as state champion is extended until someone can challenge them next season, as head coach Kalum Haack said.
“A good thing about it is that we're still state champions,” Haack said in a phone interview April 23, of the University Interscholastic League canceling the remainder of the winter and spring activities. “The bad thing is that it's been really tough on not just athletes, but everybody. You know those girls have put in a lot of time – a lot of hard work – just to see their season get cut short (which) was really difficult.”
One way he tried to return a smile to his seniors’ faces was to carry out a senior night tradition, albeit a little different looking. It was earlier that Thursday that Haack enlisted the help of his assistant coaches to bring all the seniors together while maintaining social distance.
“My assistants and I went to our seniors’ houses and gave them a bouquet of flowers just like we do on seniors night, and a balloon,” he said. “When we got to the last house, the last person had to do a FaceTime where they could all let the balloons go at the same time, just like they do on senior night.”
He said the emotions were certainly flowing but he wanted to be sure they knew they were appreciated. Out of the four seniors, three will continue playing softball at the next level; Allyse Castillo (Mary-Hardin Baylor), Sydney Blakeman (University of Texas-San Antonio), Dominique Crespo (University of Houston-Victoria) and Marley Gilmore will be attending Texas State to major in kinesiology.
When asked what he came into this season expecting out of this senior class, Haack said, “I didn't really know what to expect because we graduated eight starters from last year and seven of the eight had college scholarships.”
Still, he said the team had just started to come together and play some sound softball en route to taking its district-opening contest over Taylor, 13-2. It was that process of gelling that Haack sees as their lasting impression on the next crop of Katy softball players who will have to make up for lost time next season.
“I think a lot of the younger players that we had saw that they never quit believing, they never quit talking about what team needed to do,” Haack said of the seniors’ resiliency. “And they didn't talk just about the team but they also talked about themselves and what they needed to do. They included themselves when things didn't go right. They were the first ones to shoulder the blame. Hopefully they saw what good leadership is all about and can continue that.”
Haack still thinks about what could have been had this team been able to carry the momentum they were starting to build, crediting the seniors with much of the reason why they were doing so well.
“We started coming together because of our senior leadership,” he said of finally getting over the .500 bump. “This is the first time they've had to be a leader. They've been backups, except for one, so it took them a while but they never wavered. They kept doing the right thing, kept saying the right thing and it finally just took hold and we started playing really good softball but all of a sudden – season’s over. Would have been really interesting to see how we ended up.”