Kocian, Jags sweep Texas Wesleyan
Kori Kocian and sliding into bases don't go together, say, like peanut butter and jelly.
In a span of eight months, she broke both her ankles sliding feet first while playing for Blinn College.
She broke her left ankle sliding into third base in practice her freshman year. She red-shirted that year.
And she broke her right ankle sliding into second base in a game at Sam Houston State during her sophomore season. The right one needed surgery, from which she still proudly wears a plate and seven screws.
Now a days, the University of Houston-Victoria sophomore right fielder is fully recovered from those breaks and employs a different sliding technique.
"She slides head first now," mom Janice Kocian says.
Kocian, a Hallettsville native, went 3-for-11 with a run and an RBI during two weekend doubleheaders for the Jaguars, including Sunday's sweep (5-1, 3-0) of Texas Wesleyan University.
Still, breaking both ankles and enduring surgery on one can derail a budding career.
Not Kori, who actually walked around on her broken ankle for about two weeks because she didn't even know it was broken.
"One thing about Kori, she doesn't ever give up. She's always steady," said dad Mike "Bubba" Kocian.
Kori knew she wanted to continue playing, and she worked hard in rehab, and maintained about as good as grades as you can manage in the classroom.
That comes from her work ethic, Bubba said.
"She's had that ever since she was little," he said. "Once she started something, she wouldn't give up. She would keep going."
After the devastating injuries, that didn't change.
"Even after she got hurt, she just jumped right back to it and went on with it," Bubba said. "It took a little time, but she got right back on it. I'm proud of her."
Kori employs that same work ethic in the classroom as a biology major, too, UHV coach Keri Lambeth said.
"She is a 4.0 student. So not only is she an excellent athlete, she's a great student," Lambeth said.
Was there any fear in recruiting a kid with two broken ankles?
"Softball is a game of chances, and I took a chance on her knowing that she rehabbed all the way back. And she was strong when I went to see her" during the recruiting trip, Lambeth said.
Kocian came to UHV at a good time, when the team was losing 10 players to graduation.
Kocian has been locked into a battle for playing time. She often platoons with the strong-armed Brittany Parker.
The battle doesn't seem to faze the youngster, a slap-hitting specialist.
"I just give it my all in practice, and hope for the best," Kocian says. "If I don't play, there are other roles for me to play on the team."
She'll be there to pick up a teammate who may need it, or she needs to stay mentally sharp in case she has to go in to pinch-run or fill in in the middle of the game, she said. That was the case during Saturday's second game, when Allison Hinton suffered an injury to her neck and Kocian dusted off her mitt and went in the game.
Still, that doesn't mean she wishes for an injury to a teammate, but she does want to play as much as the next player.
"If I don't play in one game, I just pick up my practice and hopefully play the next game," Kocian said.
The plate in her ankle doesn't much hurt, Kocian said, and she does look forward to getting the plate and screws out this summer.
But, there might be one advantage. The injury has left Kocian skilled as a weather prognosticator.
"Sometimes when the weather changes I can feel it in my right one with the screws. I can kind of tell when a norther is about to blow in and the cold is gong to start, because it starts hurting."
UHV pitcher Baylea Wagener nearly had a shut out in the first game.
She pitched a complete game, giving up five hits and just one run.
The only trouble she had was in the seventh inning. The Rams started the inning with three consecutive hits to score a run, but Wagener induced a foul out and had two strikeouts to end the threat.
"Well, I don't want to say I let up, but I had a moment there on the mound," Wagener said. "My mechanics were getting sloppy. I just told myself to get it together, stand up tall, and pitch."
Wagener joked that maybe UHV pitching coach Lindsey Ferguson jinxed the shutout when she visited Wagener after the first two hits in the seventh inning.
"Ferg came out and said, 'I really want you to get a shutout this game,'" Wagener joked. "Right after that, they scored. Sometimes you can't get it all."
In all seriousness, though, Wagener said the first game was a big win, coming after Saturday's split with LSU-Alexandria, where UHV lost 3-2 in the second game.
"This is definitely going to help us pick it up again, get rolling again," Wagener said.
Wagener improved to 8-1 with the win.
SHUT OUT: Tasha Rotramel pitched a complete game shut out in the second game, limiting the Rams to six hits. Rotramel had seven strikeouts in the game. With the win, Rotramel improved her record to 9-8.
REBOUND: The two games against Texas Wesleyan weren't pretty, but the Jaguars came out on the winning end. It was a nice rebound, considering the tough loss to LSU-Alexandria, a conference foe, Lambeth said.
"We did our job. We got it done. We found a way," Lambeth said. "Sometimes you have to manufacture runs, and that's what we did today. I'm just happy that we won two games."
LONG BALL: Courtney Pettit smashed a long home run in the second inning of game one for UHV. It was Pettit's second homer of the year. The first baseman finished the day 4-for-7 with three runs scored and RBI.
BACK: UHV third-baseman Allison Hinton was back in the lineup for UHV. She left Saturday's doubleheader with a strained neck, but hospital tests proved no serious injury for the Jaguars' leading hitter.
UNUSUAL: UHV catcher Brittany Faas laid down a successful squeeze play, scoring Pettit in the sixth inning of the first game. Faas said after the game, she usually doesn't do squeeze plays but was glad it worked out.
GOOD DEFENSE: UHV second baseman Izzy Glowney made a diving catch in the second inning of game one. Faas, the catcher, lunged and caught a foul pop fly while still holding her face mask in one hand. Center fielder Shorty O'Bryant nearly made a diving catch from a full sprint in short center field, but the ball popped out of her mitt when she hit the ground. In the second game, Faas, from her knees, threw a runner out trying to steal second. Left fielder Claire McGee made what appeared to be a diving catch in the second game, but the umpire ruled she trapped the ball on the ground.
UHV 5, Texas Wesleyan 1
TWU 000 000 1 - 1 5 2
UHV 030 011 x -5 7 1
Baylea Wagener and Brittany Faas. Ashley Oldham and Hayley Butler. WP: Wagener. LP: Oldham. Highlights: UHV: Wagener 7IP, 4H, 1ER; Courtney Pettit 2-for-3 HR, 2R, RBI; Izzy Glowney 1-for-3, 2B, 2 RBI; Brittany Faas 2-for-3, R, RBI; Brittany Boren 1-for-3 R, Claire McGee 1-for-3. TWU: Lindsey Owen 2-for-3 RBI; Caitlin Bradley 1-for-1. Oldham 2-for-2. Records: UHV 20-11; TWU: 14-10
UHV 3, Texas Wesleyan 0
TWU 000 000 0 - 0 6 1
UHV 200 001 x - 3 8 0
Tasha Rotramel and Brittany Faas. Deanna Freeman and Ashley Tarrant (1) and Haley Butler. WP: Rotramel. LP: Freeman. Highlights: UHV: Allison Hinton 1-for-3 RBI; Courtney Pettit 2-for-4 R; Brittany Boren 1-for-2, RBI; Claire McGee 1 -for-3; Kori Kocian 1-for-3; Rotramel 7IP, 0ER, 6H, 7K. TWU: Butler 2-for-2; Ashleigh Jimenez 1-for-2, SAC. Records: UHV: 21-11. TWU: 14-11.