May 11, 2021
Team of the Week: Episcopal Baseball presented by Allegiance Bank
Photo by Bradley Collier || VYPE Media
A YEAR AFTER REACHING THE TAPPS 4A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME, 11TH-YEAR COACH AUDRA MAY FOUND HERSELF ONCE AGAIN STANDING ON THE SIDELINES WATCHING HER TEAM BATTLE FOR THE CROWN AGAIN IN 2022.
Legacy Prep ran through Veritas Academy (58-20), St.Thomas Episcopal (61-47) and then Lutheran High School (49-41) to reach the title game in March.
In the end, the Lions fell short to Lubbock ChristianSchool to finish as the TAPPS4A State Runner-Ups for a second-straight season.
“We were here last year and lost to the same team, so the girls were dead seton coming back here and— if nothing else — giving them a better fight,” said May following the game.“We fought through injuries all year long... I feel like we kind of limped into the finals, but I couldn’t be prouder of how hard they played.
”The Lions finished the year with a 22-11 overall mark.
Legacy Prep was led by senior Maddie Steed’s 15.8points, 4.5 rebounds, 4assists and 5.8 steals per game this season. Younger sister Molly Steed, just a sophomore, averaged 9.5 points, 8.9 rebounds and 3.8 steals per game.
Junior Georgia Freeman averaged 8.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4 blocks, senior Mary Wittmer averaged 7.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3 assists and MK Kloesel chipped in 7.1 points and 2.7 rebounds per game to help pace the Lions’ offense.
“Mary is like the team mom,” May said. “She’s the general of the offense. She has grown so much in the last few years that she has been here. I’m really going to miss her. She’s also a great baker.”
As May took a second to look back on the season, the veteran coach said her favorite memory of the year was seeing the freshmen on the squad develop.
“They’re not afraid, and I love that about them,” she said. “They’re fearless. They are fun to watch.”
AFTER HER SOPHOMORE SEASON, AVERY HODGE MADE A DECISION THAT DRASTICALLY ALTERED THE ROAD OF HER HIGH SCHOOL CAREER.
Hodge, a softball phenom as soon as she stepped onto the Tompkins High campus as a freshman, left the Katy ISD school for Fort Bend Christian Academy. Sure, she wanted to compete for a State Championship and felt the Eagles could get her there. But more than that, Hodge wanted to right her ways academically.
“I really had to lock in and get focused,” Hodge said. “At Tompkins, I wouldn’t really care so much about my schoolwork. But the teachers here pushed me hard. The competition in this school academically made me want to do well and pushed me to do better.”
It wasn’t easy on either end.
“At first, it was a struggle,” Hodge said. “It wasn’t as competitive as other teams I’d been on, but it helped me work on other things I needed work on, like teamwork and leadership.
“I learned to look out for everybody instead of just doing my own thing.”
Academically, it was also a considerable adjustment period.
“It’s something I struggled with more generally, but this school really helped me,” Hodge said. “Teachers keep us more engaged. Before I got here, I would sleep a lot in class. Here, not only do they keep you involved with things, but they make sure you actually understand what you’re learning. It’s not just a bunch of tests being given to you right away.”
The maturity of Hodge’s decision is a significant part of her make-up as she graduates Fort Bend Christian Academy this spring. It’s a testament to her character and competitive nature to push herself and do what’s best in the long run.
Hodge is going to Oklahoma, one of the premier softball programs in the nation, to play shortstop. Twice, she has been named to USA Softball’s Junior Women’s National Team.
Last season, her first at FBCA, Hodge helped the Eagles to the State Semifinals, hitting .762 with 48 RBIs and eight home runs. This season, she’s added pitching ace to her resume, as irrepressible of a force in the circle as she is in the box .
She’s no slouch on the volleyball court, either. Hodge is, in fact, a State Champion, helping FBCA to the TAPPS 5A State Championship last winter. She was a first-team, allstate libero with 375 digs.
In two seasons on the volleyball court as an Eagle, Hodge averaged 3.3 digs per set, adding 75 aces and 10 kills.
“The Junior Women’s National Team is probably my biggest accomplishment,” Hodge said. “The State Championship is something I’ll never forget.”
Hodge has always had things in order. She’s always had an idea of who she was and what she wanted to do.
She committed to Oklahoma in September 2017, around the start of her eighth-grade year.
“It was a stress reliever,” she said. “I didn’t have to be in that process of texting colleges and worrying about getting looked at. I could just focus on working on what I needed to for college and getting better, so that when I got to OU, I’ll be ready to go.”
Hodge is a natural athlete.
Take pitching, for instance. Hodge only pitched in spot moments last year. But, because of team need, she stepped up to take over the No. 1 role this season. As the season has gone on, she is throwing harder and her spin keeps improving. Relying on a deadly curveball and screwball, Hodge has a veteran’s knack for keeping the ball in the zone and throwing strikes.
She can do anything if she puts her mind to it. She’ll do whatever it takes to win.
Hodge wants nothing more than to finish her senior year with another State Championship. It would mean so much to get one in softball.
But no matter how gaudy the statistics or how memorable the wins, Hodge wants to be remembered for much more. Her legacy is in who she is, not what she does.
“Hopefully, having a good attitude and trying hard in whatever I did,” she said. “Helping my teammates up and just encouraging others to be the best they can be. I want to be remembered as someone who wanted to win and helped my team and teammates do that.”
THE 2021 SEASON WAS A MARQUEE CAMPAIGN FOR FORT BEND CHRISTIAN ACADEMY FOOTBALL.
The Eagles beat rival Second Baptist, 27- 24, to claim their first TAPPS Division II District Championship. The win snapped Second Baptist’s streak of eight-straight district titles and was FBCA’s first win against Second Baptist since 2006.
FBCA earned an undefeated district title and went 9-4 in 2021, falling by one point to Second Baptist in the State Semifinals.
The Eagles were led by dynamic junior quarterback Brady Dever, who completed 64 percent of his passes for 4,054 yards and 62 touchdowns. FBCA averaged 44.3 points per game, thanks to Dever and a wealth of talent at receiver that included junior Bryan Domino and senior Marcus Chretien. Each had more than 1,000 yards receiving and combined for more than 40 touchdowns.
Senior running back Sam Leblue had more than 1,800 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns.
Defensively, FBCA allowed just 18.6 points per game and was led by senior linebacker Chandler Bean and senior defensive back Blaine Baird.
“It’s a great feeling,” coach Jordan Black said. “This is the beginning of what we’ve been working for here, trying to create a program with a reputation, and these guys are buying in.”
FORT BEND CHRISTIAN ACADEMY. TAPPS 5A VOLLEYBALL STATE CHAMPIONS .
How does that sound? If your answer was , ‘Like history? ’ you win . Just like the Eagles did. And they won in 2021. A lot.
FBCA went 35-4, winning an undefeated district championship in a season culminating with a 3- 0 sweep of Carrollton Prince of Peace in the State Championship match.
It was a magical year for second-year head coach Alex Edwards, as she got the absolute most out of the bevy of talent at her disposal. A year after a heart breaking loss in five sets in the State Final in 2020, she returned the Eagles to the State Championship game, and they got the job done in dominant fashion.
FBCA leaned on a pair of cornerstone seniors . Texas State-signee Bailey Hanner (527 kills, 45 blocks, 59aces ) was the heart and soul of the program , someone who helped implement Edwards ’ philosophy and who was the face of the program.
As Hanner went, the Eagles went.
Senior Avery Hodge (375 digs) was exceptional defensively, a key addition to the program since arriving her junior year.
A pair of precocious freshmen in Bayleigh Minor (254 kills, 65 blocks ) and Layne Bulow (243 kills, 86 aces, 264 digs) were impressive in their play, contributing to a State Championship, while assuring the future remains remarkably bright.
“I really can’t believe it,” Edwards said. “I’m just in awe, and I’m just so happy to have done it with this group.“
FBCA ENJOYED A SUCCESSFUL YEAR ON THE CROSS COUNTRY COURSE.
The Eagles’ girls finished sixth as a team at the TAPPS Cross Country State Championships in Waco with a total score of 206 points. Sophomore Kyra Whitman (17th, 13:30.0) and freshman Sidney Arnold (23rd, 13:48.3) finished in the Top 25 individually at State.
Junior Wilson Whiles led the FBCA boys’ contingency at State. He finished 74th individually with a time of 20:27.8 in the 5K.
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