Fort Bend Christian Academy
Avery Hodge has yet to step onto Fort Bend Christian Academy's campus as a senior, and she still boasts an impressively decorated high school resume.
The Eagles' star infielder was one of four Texans named to the 2021 USA Softball U-18 junior women's national team on June 25. It is the second time Hodge will compete for her country. In 2019, she was picked for the 2019 USA Softball U-17 women's national team.
Hodge and others went through a rigorous two-day tryout last week that consisted of skill evaluation in the morning and scrimmaging from the afternoon through late night of the first day, followed by a full day of scrimmaging on day two.
"It's an honor to have people look at me and see that I have what it takes to be playing on the team," Hodge said. "People on the (selection) committee have been in our shoes, so they know what it's like. It just means a lot to know that we were good enough."
@USASoftballJWNT @WBSC Meet the athletes representing the U.S. as a member of the 2021 #USASoftball U-18 JWNT ⤵️ https://t.co/lUZtbFDYEr— USA Softball (@USA Softball)1624654679.0
Hodge hit .762 with 48 RBIs, eight home runs and 48 runs scored in leading Fort Bend Christian Academy to an undefeated district title and a state semifinal appearance last season. She did not strike out in 63 at-bats.
The Oklahoma commit has quick hands, great athleticism and terrific speed. Her bat speed and quickness on the bases puts pressure on defenses. Hodge is one of four players selected to the U-18 JWNT that has international experience.
In Colombia in 2019, she hit .400 with a .679 on-base percentage, 13 runs scored, five RBIs and 11 walks to one strikeout for the U-17 team.
Hodge said that initial stint will be a boon. The international experience can be an overwhelming one, she said, with other teams not speaking English and unusual sights like outdoor airports.
"I just have a lot more confidence in myself," she said. "I'm older. I have more experience. I still feel the nerves, just because I'm one of the younger ones on the team. But there's some college players on the team, so I have people to look up to."
The U-18 JWNT will compete at the World Baseball Softball Confederation U-18 World Cup in Lima, Peru from August 28-September 5, and the Junior Pan American Games in Barranquilla, Columbia from November 25-December 5.
"When I go to OU, we're going to play with a lot of people watching," Hodge said. "And starting now, by being a part of these teams, this is where I can learn about being on a bigger stage and how to present myself and to get comfortable around that kind of stuff."
Hodge has a couple more goals to cross off as her senior season with the Eagles looms.
"I just want to continue preparing myself for college. I want to start as a freshman," she said. "I'm pretty good at slap-hitting and short game, but when it comes to hitting, I struggle a bit. I want to work on that. For the team, I want to go back to the state championship and hopefully win it this time."