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Off the field experience pushing Hollingshead, ETBU Tigers

By Nathan Hague
Feb. 17, 2017 at 4 a.m.

ETBU's Kaitlyn Hollingshead connects for a hit gainst UT Tyler in Tyler.

ETBU's Kaitlyn Hollingshead has spent a lot of time on the softball field where many memories stand out, like as a freshman, when her team won on back-to-back walk off homers in Super Regionals or last year when she hit two home runs against UT-Dallas.

However, her favorite memory on the softball field occurred when she and her Tiger teammates were on a mission trip in Costa Rica and has less to do with the game itself.

"I did get to share my testimony which was amazing," Hollingshead said. "I had never shared my testimony before. People always ask, 'what's your favorite moment on the field,' and that was by far my best moment on the field. We weren't even playing softball but that was my favorite moment on the softball field. It was after the second game we played against the national team and that was just amazing to get to share the love of Christ through your sport. You're doing what you love but you're also glorifying God at the same time so it was just like, overwhelmingly filled with joy."

Hollingshead said the trip helped the Tigers develop team chemistry.

"We have a really big team so we were all kind of nervous," she said. "We have 28 girls that had to bond and that's hard sometimes but in Costa Rica, we got to know each other. We got people who we don't usually hang out with. We did Bible studies before Costa Rica and we still do team Bible studies where we really get to know our teammates and stuff like that."

Perhaps that team chemistry is one that has led to the Tigers' early success as they now hold a record of 5-0.

"Team chemistry, especially for a girls team is really important," she said. "It doesn't necessarily happen at the beginning of the season. It doesn't necessarily happen before the season but there's always some point every season where our team just clicks. It's like, 'OK we're not going to lose.' Our freshmen year, in those two games with those back-to-back home runs, we were down in both of those games. We had the confidence in each other. We had the team chemistry. We had the confidence, like, 'Alright, we're going to get it done.' When that happens, it makes playing softball so much fun. It's just working right and it's like a machine. It's flowing and doing what it's supposed to do and it really makes the game enjoyable.

"We just have a really solid lineup up and down," Hollingshead added. "We have kids who can hit the ball and we've also added a lot of speed to our team this year which is something that we've lacked in the last few years. It's exciting. We can do a lot more because of the speed that we have on our team. We can play a lot more small ball, move runners move around and then let some of our bigger hitters get up and knock some runs in. That's really been a big asset to our team this year."

Hollingshead herself made a big change as she switched positions from shortstop to third base.

"I played shortstop the last three years," Hollingshead said. "Jessica Bowden graduated last year and she played third base last year and did a great job. Really this year we needed somebody to fill that hole so we got another couple freshmen coming in, Emily Hitt and Madison Prince, they play middle infield and they're really talented freshmen. They can cover that pretty well and I moved over to third base to cover that hole. It wasn't really a surprise. It was definitely an adjustment though. I didn't realize how hard it would be to adjust but I'm getting there."

As a senior, Hollingshead knows others will look to her for leadership.

"I definitely try to lead by example, like 'do as I do', kind of leader," she said. "I'm always trying to work hard on the field, be excited. Our whole program is about energy and excitement and just trying to keep that up. I try to be a positive role model on the field."

In ETBU's first five games so far, Hollingshead has six hits, six RBI and two home runs, which makes her nickname, "Bomber" seem all the more fitting.

"That happened my freshman year," Hollingshead said. "A lot of it was because I played for the Texas Bombers. I think it was Mallory Westbrook that called me Bomber. We had a camp before we came to school and I was wearing my Bombers jersey and when I got here, she goes, 'Oh you're Bomber girl right?' I was like, 'Yeah that's me.' So it kind of stuck."

She hopes to repeat another experience from her freshman year.

"I think for us seniors, we all want to end where we started off our freshman year," she said. "We went to the national championship our freshman year and that's where we want to end up but we're taking it game-by-game and series-by-series. Every week we want to build off what we did in the last series. We had our home opener and there were a lot of good things but there was a lot of stuff we had to work on so we worked on it and we improved on it the next week at Belhaven. We improved on the things we needed to improve on but we saw some other things we needed to improve on. This week, our goal is to improve on those things and when we play LeToruneau, hopefully we do those things better. Every week we're trying to get better and build on what we learned."

ETBU is slated to play host to LeTourneau in a three-game series with first pitch being tonight at 6 p.m. The two teams will resume play Saturday at noon with the final game to follow.

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