UHV sweeps doubleheader from D-I Texas Southern
There is a reason catchers make the best coaches.
They are the defensive mastermind of a team. They are the ones that are infinitely squatting, all the while cultivating relationships with pitchers. Catchers are usually the most likely to make the tough, dirty plays that sometimes are not evident in a box score.
Those are just some of the reasons Kristina Droz is beloved by the University of Houston-Victoria softball program.
"The catcher is the general on the field," said UHV softball coach Keri Lambeth. "Without a strong general, your troops will collapse."
The sophomore catcher caught all 181 pitches delivered by Dawn Villegas and Emily Bergstrom as the Jaguars swept Texas Southern 6-3 and 4-0 Tuesday afternoon. The wins were the fifth straight for the Jaguars, which moved them to 30-6 on the season.
Lambeth added her catcher is a tough woman in all facets of her life, and the team has begun to embody that attitude on the field. All season long the Jaguars have worn blue bands in support of prostate cancer, because it has been a cause that has meant a lot to Droz.
Tuesday was the 13th time this season the sophomore from Missouri City caught both ends of a doubleheader. She has been behind the plate in 34 of the Jaguars 36 games this season, while leading the team's regular starters in fielding percentage.
She even held onto the ball in the fifth inning when Texas Southern's Jessica Haynes barreled over her, trying to score on a ball that got away from third baseman Kelly King.
Droz was also 2 for 4 at the plate on the day, while scoring a run in the second victory. In the first game center fielder Ariel Gomez (3-4) was the offensive star, driving in a run, and scoring two of her own.
"It takes a lot of work, your legs get used to it and you keep icing," Droz said about catching all 14 innings Tuesday. "You have to treat your body right and you'll be all right. I'm used to it by now."
She grew up a shortstop, but was moved behind the plate when she was 10. At the time opposing teams kept stealing bases. The coach lined up the entire team in search of someone who could make the throw to second.
After Droz proved she could make the throw, she had a new position. And she's been an anchor behind the plate for the past decade.
"A catcher is always part of the pitching staff," Lambeth said. "She plays a role in not only commanding their pitches, but in located them as well as calling them."
Droz called every one of Bergstrom's 100 pitches as the senior pitcher recorded her second straight shutout. Visiting Texas Southern managed just five hits in its sixth shutout loss of the season.
"All my pitches have worked really well together," Bergstrom said of Tuesday's performance. "Kristina and I work awesome together. We synch really well. We are always on the same page and it seems like we are making batters swing at pitches and get them out."
Bergstrom said Droz innately knows what pitch she wants to throw in a given situation, and calls it, whether it's her changeup, curve or screwball. It's a relationship Droz has established with the entire Jaguars staff, but most acutely with the senior southpaw from El Campo.
"It's a really close relationship with all of them," Droz said. "Emily and I are really close. She is at my house. I am at her house. We are always hanging out, which makes it that much easier for us to be on the same page on the field."