Hodges gives Seahawks peace of mindPublished 7:16pm Thursday, March 21, 2013
CHOCOWINITY — “I’m not concerned about it” is not a phrase heard too often out of the mouth of Southside’s detail-orientated softball coach John Lohman. However, for the last two-plus years that’s been his stance toward the Seahawks catching position, which is perhaps the ultimate compliment to junior backstop Valarie Hodges.
In a game predicated on advancing the runner – whether it be via bunt, slap, steal or passed ball – the catching position is a crucial element to a team’s success and thanks to the play of Hodges, Lohman has one less worry come game time.
“I don’t even worry about it. It’s a not a concern. My concern’s are other places on the field or umpiring, as usual,” Lohman said. “Defensively, she’s an A-plus. No doubt.”
Hodges, who has been on the Southside varsity team since she was a freshman, earned high praise from her coach despite the fact she fields her position with technique that is far from fundamentally sound.
“(My style) is a little different,” Hodges admitted. “I do a lot of things that a lot of people wouldn’t consider mechanically correct. I catch with two hands instead of one behind my glove this way I have my hand ready if someone is trying to steal on me, and I have a sidearm throw. I’ve always had a weird throw and it’s never really worked until they put me behind the plate.”
While Lohman may not be concerned with the play of Hodges behind the dish, he is concerned that one day she will not be able to play because of that hand placement.
“I don’t like it,” Lohman said. “She gets her hand hit by foul balls. It’s probably happened three or four times. We talk about it and practice it but it’s one of those things that she’s been doing so long that I don’t know if we’ll be able to break it.”
While she may not have proper technique behind the plate, above the shoulders she’s as traditional at the two spot as it gets.
“She’s got a lot of experience. She’s a real smart girl,” Lohman said. “She’s real controlled and real stable all the time. It’s exactly what you want from a catcher. When things get a little crazy she’s usually the calmest one of the field.”
Hodges, who has been playing softball since she was four, is far from one-dimensional. On Tuesday, the junior went 2-4 with three RBIs, one of which was the game-tying run, during the Seahawks 11-5 come-from-behind win over Plymouth.
On the season, Hodges is batting nearly .400 in the seven spot and her production in the lineup is pivotal to Southside’s success.
“We need her to hit. If you’re in that sixth or seventh spot in the batting order it’s hard to win games if that spot isn’t hitting,” Lohman said. “She’s been making a lot more contact this year. I think she’s feeling a little more confident and a little more relaxed up there. She’s been hitting all types of pitching really well.”