HALLETTSVILLE — Ask anyone who’s been around Kenzi Lange and Ryan Targac and they’ll likely tell you their character goes well beyond the realm of sports.
“Kenzi is a great ball player but she’s a better person,” said former Hallettsville softball coach Mike Mikeska, who coached Lange her first three seasons. “She’s super nice and she’s super polite. She always works hard.”
“Ryan is someone who brings energy and the fire it takes to win,” added Hallettsville baseball coach Shorty Cook. “He’s someone that’s going to help you.”
Lange and Targac have done a little bit of everything since putting on a Hallettsville uniform in 2017.
Lange helped lead the Lady Brahmas to the playoffs each of her first three seasons, including a trip to the UIL Class 3A state final last May. Targac and the Brahmas have also secured playoff spots the last three years and advanced to the regional semifinals in 2018.
But as much as the two senior athletes are looking forward to the upcoming season, they’re also excited to begin the next chapters of their lives after high school.
Lange and Targac signed letters of intents to continue playing the game they love in front of friends, family and coaches on Wednesday afternoon at the Hallettsville gym.
Lange signed with NCAA Division I Sam Houston State University to play softball and Targac signed with Division I Texas A&M to play baseball. Targac was the first athlete to receive an offer from the Aggies for the 2020 season.
Both athletes committed to their respective colleges as freshmen.
“It means the world,” Lange said. “It has been one my dreams since I was a kid. Just to make this a reality means so much to me. Sam Houston State is a family environment, and I love the whole culture and the coaches.”
“It’s been a long time coming,” added Targac. “I made a commitment to them before I even stepped onto the field as a freshman. The journey has been countless hours in the cages, at home working, the weight room and going to camps.”
Targac, a switch hitter, played anywhere Cook needed him but primarily pitcher and shortstop.
Targac hit .443 last season with five home runs, two triples, seven doubles and 42 RBIs. He also scored 31 runs and stole 10 bases with a fielding percentage of .946.
On the mound, he went 8-1 with a 0.32 ERA with 67 strikeouts.
He’s a three-time all-state selection and the current Victoria Advocate Pitcher of the Year. He also played basketball for the Brahmas.
“I feel like I can bring a lot of things,” Targac said. “Energy... because I like to give it my all when I’m out there. When guys get down, I can let them know, ‘We can do this. We can make it to Omaha.’”
Lange plays second base for the Lady Brahmas and she’ll continue to contribute at the position for the Bearkats.
Lange, a three-time all-state selection and the reigning Victoria Advocate offensive player of the year, hit .529 with four home runs and 53 RBIs her junior season. She also recorded 15 stolen bases and played volleyball for the Lady Brahmas.
“My family has been my biggest inspiration,” Lange said. “We’ve always been a big softball and baseball family growing up so watching it and playing so much really inspired me to go and play Division I softball.”
Lange played select ball since she was 8 years old with Aces Express Gold (Jacoby). She’s one of four sisters, who have also played the sport.
Her oldest sister, Kendyl, plays at Duke, while her other sister Kenna played varsity for the Lady Brahmas from 2015-2018. Her youngest sister, Ky, will play her first season at Hallettsville as a freshman.
“I hope it inspires others to want to work hard and do the same,” Lange said. “Being at Hallettsville taught me a lot of life lessons outside of softball. It taught me to work hard and be strong in everything that I do.”
Like Lange, Targac also began playing the game at an early age.
“My dedication to stay at it,” Targac said of his inspiration growing up. “If I keep on moving forward, I’ve always believed I can make it all the way.”
“This is something that has been a goal of his for a long time,” Cook added. “You know he was going to do whatever it took to get it done. He’s one of the hardest workers we’ve had here in Hallettsville.”
Playing close to home was important for Lange and Targac.
College Station is two hours from Hallettsville, while Sam Houston State University is a 2 hour and 30 minute drive.
“It means a lot that I’ll be able to see them when they come watch me,” Lange said. “Just knowing my family is close will make it a fun environment.”
“I wanted to stay local,” Targac added. “It’s about a 2-hour drive, and I wanted to stay around my family — I didn’t want to go too far.”
The Aggies are coming off a 39-23-1 season and a 16-3-1 mark in Southeastern Conference play.
Targac is confident he’ll fit right in.
“Being there the first time, it felt like my second home,” said Targac, who will play on the infield at Texas A&M. “The atmosphere, the fans and coaches are all great.”
Lange joins a Sam Houston State program that finished 35-23 overall and 22-5 in the Southland Conference.
Mikeska has no doubts that she’ll help the program become even better.
“She told me as a freshman she wanted to go to Sam Houston and now she’s fulfilling her dream,” Mikeska said. “I know she can do a dang good job at second base because she’s a natural. She can handle any spot they put her.”