AC Athletics/Gary Stallard
LUFKIN, TX (Press Release)- The numbers are eye-popping, to say the least.
Angelina College's Lady Roadrunners, already known for their propensity to bash softballs, in 2017 shattered the team record for home runs in a season. The old record, set last year, was 76.
Heading into this week's regional tournament, the Lady 'Runners have launched 99 balls – ranked third in the nation – over the fences.
That's just one record smacked into the wind. There have been others.
Last weekend at Northeast Texas College, Kali Holcomb homered twice, giving her 18 for the season – including five grand slams – and breaking the previous record teammate Taylor Davis set just last year. Davis, by the way, has 12 homers this year, meaning she'll leave the college as the all-time career leader in that category.
"I was excited for Kali," Davis said. "My goal was to set the all-time record, and I did that, so I'm happy."
On the same day, Jordan Kisselburg rocked her 17th to tie the record, only to see Holcomb pass her just hours later.
"Every time I hit a homer, Kali thinks she has to hit one right after," Kisselburg laughed. "Most of the time, if I hit one, she hits two."
In all, 12 Lady Roadrunners performed home run trots during the season. Six reached double figures in dingers: Holcomb, Davis, Jordan Kisselburg, Kaylee Parker, Lynsey Mitchell and Lauren Garza. Mitchell hit five of her homers and drove in 17 runs in a single doubleheader, leading to her landing in the "Faces in the Crowd" section of Sports Illustrated in March. Nine players had slugging percentages higher than .500. Holcomb (71 RBI), Parker (63 RBI), Garza (60 RBI) and Kisselburg (58 RBI) are the top four run producers in all of Region XIV.
The three team leaders in the homer category – Holcomb (18 homers), Kisselburg (17 homers) and Parker (16 homers) – admit this year's power surge, while a result of a lot of work, nevertheless took them by surprise. Holcomb, for example, hit just two in her freshman season at AC.
"I learned to be more selective, and I changed some things with my stance and approach," Holcomb said. "I added a leg kick this year, whereas last year I had more of a normal stance. I spent more time in the weight room than I have previously, but most of what changed for me came from pitch selection and focusing more on my swing.
"My approach last year was thinking I could hit any pitch they threw me. I didn't execute on the good pitches I saw, and I got out on the bad ones I chased. This year, I figured out which ones to leave alone."