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Two captains for UHV women's softball team ready to lead Jaguars back to nationals

By BY THOMAS R. MARTINEZ - tmartinez@vicad.com
Jan. 16, 2010 at 8:01 p.m.
Updated Jan. 15, 2010 at 7:16 p.m.

University of Houston-Victoria softball co-captains Tasha Rotramel and Brittany Faas are ready to meet the high standards the team has set the past couple years.

What's onlineFor video of Brittany Haas and Tasha Rotramel and the team in action, go to www.victoriaadvocate.com and click on this story.

Coming Monday

Editor's note: This is the first of a two-part look at the University of Houston-Victoria softall team. On Monday, the Advocate takes a look at the high expectations facing the team.

Brittany Faas, a senior catcher, earned the distinction of being the first three-year player for the Jaguars. She played in the first year when the team was in its infancy, and last year, when the team went to the National Tournament.

Her teammates named Faas one of two captains this year.

She takes here role as captain and the gray-tooth of the team seriously. She's honored to be the first three-year player in the team's history.

"We jumped over all the boundaries that we had. We made people recognize us," Faas said.

Tasha Rotramel is an All-American pitcher. The senior also was on the team that went to Nationals last year, and is the other pick for captain.

For Rotramel, being an All-American is nice, but ...

"Just because I'm an All-American doesn't mean I can stop working hard," she said.

Coach Keri Lambeth knows the team is in good hands with her senior co-captains.

"Brittany Faas and Tasha Rotramel are able to lead with strong voices and through their actions on the field. They know what it's going to take to get us where we want," Lambeth said.

The two seniors sat down with the Advocate for a question-and-answer session.

Q: As the two captains, have you set high expectations for the team?

Brittany Faas: Very much so. I don't expect anything less than what we had the last two years. The group that we did have set the standard very high. And I think everyone that came in knew that because we wouldn't have been so recognized if it weren't for the girls we had. I expect us to be right there at the top if not higher in the rankings. I expect us to be at Nationals. I expect us to win our conference. I expect all of those things just because I know it's possible. We've been there, I know we can do it, and I don't expect anything less.

Tasha Rotramel: Like Brittany Faas said, the group of girls last year set the bar really high. We promised them last year before they left we were going to do everything we could to keep our ranking and stay recognized as UHV Jaguars. We're going to do everything as leaders to make sure that happens.

Q: Does that put a little more pressure on you seniors?

TR: Yeah, that's a lot of pressure. We lost 10 players (to graduation), major players. Not only were they our teammates, but we were all friends, too. We have a whole new group of girls to work with, they're all great, they're all wonderful, but we're going to have to pretty much start from scratch. We have great talent on this team.

Q: Talk about the team's success off the field in academics.

BF: We knew from beginning when we signed on here that academics were just as important if not more so than athletics with Coach. She pushes us just as much in the classroom as she does on the field. If we don't succeed in the classroom we aren't able to step foot on the field. She pushes, but we have scheduled study hall, we have scheduled time with her. She doesn't let us get behind. We really take pride in our academics just as much as in our athletics.

TR: And it is hard to balance school and softball, and some girls have to work. That's a lot of stress on the girls, but we knew coming into this that that's the job of the student athlete to keep the grades up and play ball.

BF: You have a full time job with softball, and you're taking a full class load, and you're working part time ....

TR: We have a busy schedule.

BF: Very busy schedules.

Q: Why did you decide to play at UHV?

BF: For me, it was a chance to start something. UHV was nothing, we were just another team that was getting put together, there weren't any expectations on us. If anything, they were low. So, coming out of JUCO (junior college) knowing I had a chance to start a great program, that I'd be there for three years, I could really help build the foundation. To know that I was part of the start of the program was a cool feeling. I'm close to home, I have a job here, I've settled down here like I knew I would coming out of JUCO. It's everything I expected of it and more. I am just glad I have been able to experience what I have here. It's just been great.

TR: When I left SanJac (San Jacinto Junior College) I had a lot of offers. I chose to come here for a lot of the same reasons as Brittany Fass. I wanted to be part of something. I also had a lot of friends on the team. They had a good first year, and I wanted to come in and be part of that. I wanted to look back one day and say I helped start that. That's a good feeling to be part of the community. Because we're so small and everyone knows everyone, and someone will say, 'Hey I saw you on TV last night, or I watched your game, Great Job.' It's like one big family here in Victoria.

Q: As captains, how do you set the tone for the team?

TR: We have to motivate everybody. We have a young bunch of girls, being the seniors we have to motivate them to keep going. Sometimes it's stressful, it's hard, sometimes you just want to break down, but as captains we have to push people to give everything they've got and keep everybody in good spirits.

BF: We're really here to be organized. If people are having trouble with something, or if they need advice, and they don't necessarily want to go to Coach or the assistant coach, they can come to us first. And that's what we're here for, to give advice to them, to mentor them. We've been there, we know what it's like.

TR: We know what Coach expects of us. We kind of give them a head's up so they know what Coach expects.

Q: Brittany, how do you prepare for the demanding rigors of the catching position?

BF: I'm used to it now, but it's definitely different getting in shape for catching. I work out my legs a lot more. I also have to know my pitchers. By catching them and knowing their faults I'm able to better call a game. I'm able to know their strong points. It's my job to make sure my pitchers are doing a great job. So if I'm prepared physically, first, then I can do a good job of helping our pitchers succeed. It's our pitchers that dominate a game, and who can manipulate a game either way.

TR: Catching is a mental game, too.

BF: Very much so. Trying to figure out how a batter is standing, how they're swinging so I can know how to throw them. If I need to throw them low or high, in or out. It's all very much watching the field, being perceptive, and knowing what's going on at all times.

Q: Tasha, does being an All-American put a little more pressure on you?

TR: Yeah, it's a lot of pressure. Last year, I came in as an underclassman, and my goal was just to do good, work my hardest and fit in. Last year, we had two really good senior pitchers, and my goal was just to be up there with them. I didn't want to be the underdog on the team. Toward the end of the year, I started realizing I had I very low ERA compared to other pitchers, and that's when it really hit me, that wow, I could be an All-American. This year, coming in as an All-American, it's hard. Everyone knows who I am, they come into the game, they say, 'Hey, they have a really good pitcher.' I have to be on my toes.

Q: Does it put a lot of pressure on you knowing that pitching means so much in softball?

TR: You have to be 'on' from the very first pitch to the last pitch. You know, games can be lost in the very first inning.

BF: The very first pitch.

TR: That's why when we're warming up, we have to be on. If we're not, we have to let our catcher know.

Q: Brittany, can you tell right away if one of your pitchers isn't 'on?'

BF: Very easily. And you can tell what pitch is working. If you're a rise-ball pitcher and maybe you're rise-ball isn't working very well that day, I have to know as a catcher to work on the other pitches even more because they have to make up for a pitch that's not working so well that day. Warm up is very important. That's when you know what's going to work, and what's not.

Q: What's it like playing for a coach like Keri Lambeth?

BF: I've loved it. She's one of the best coaches I've ever had. I've known her for awhile, and to play for her has been a great experience. It's really been great. I have a lot of respect for her.

TR: Coach Lambeth is another reason I came on this team. When I came on my visit, I don't know, we seemed to just click. She's young, she's very nice, she wants to work hard, she wants to win. She wants us to succeed because she's so strict in the classroom. She obviously wants us to do good in life. And that's one thing I like about her, it's not all softball. Anything you need, she's there for you.

BF: She's not a screamer, yeller in your face. It's not the coach I think our team needs. She knows how to read personalities to coach them the best she can.

TR: Also, it's not that long ago that she's played, so she knows where we're at, what we're feeling. She knows what we're going through. So that helps out a lot, too.

Q: As seniors, what do you think your legacy to the program will be?

TR: You know, Brittany was here from the beginning. That means a lot. We were the first girls to win conference, we were the first girls to take this team to nationals.

BF: We were the original Jaguars. We were the first class here. I think that in itself leads to high standards. Because we did do so well. We set the standard pretty much as high as we could for the future teams. They know what the Jaguars can be because of us.

Q: Who will be three players who will excel this year?

TR: Izzy Glowney, our second baseman, will definitely be a key player this year. (Note: Izzy is a senior.)

BF: Courtney Pettit (a junior first basemen) will add a very strong bat for us.

TR: Allie (Hinton, a junior third basemen) will, too.

BF: Yeah, Allie will.

TR: We expect a big bat out of her.

BF: We lost a lot of big bats last year. I think those two underclassmen coming in with big bats will help tremendously. I think a lot of responsibility will fall on their shoulders because they have to live up to the power hitters of the class that left. And Izzy is just good. She's our slapper. She's our second basemen ...

TR: She's like a brick wall out there.

BF: I completely trust her out there. She gets everything that comes her way. She's like a vacuum.

Q: Tasha, describe Brittany for me.

TR: Brittany Fass. She never gets mad. She's always laughing. She keeps us motivated. As my catcher, if I make a a bad pitch, she'll be the first one back there laughing at me.

BF: In a good way ...

TR: In a good way. I've never really seen her get mad. She's going to be a great leader. I'm really excited to be playing with her.

Q: Brittany, describe Tasha for me.

BF: Tasha Rotramel. She's a great pitcher. I expect her to dominate on the field. She has the personality to be the captain, to be the leader, and people listen to her when she talks. And, I don't expect anything less than an All-American on the pitching mound. She's going to be the one in the middle of the huddle, saying, 'OK, guys, we're still here, this still can be done.' She's lifting everyone's spirits, motivating everyone.

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