Forgive McDonald County softball coach Tray Shaddox if he was feeling a little selfish and happy when his senior pitcher, Kali Hodson, signed a letter of intent to continue her softball career at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin.
“I’m selfishly glad that she ended up pretty close to home so I could come watcher her play and keep up with her,” Shaddox said.
Hodson, who has earned multiple all-conference and all-district selections, turned away such programs as Pittsburg State, Northern Oklahoma-Tahlequah, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M and others to join coach Bill Gray’s Lady Lions. Hodson will likely see plenty of time on the mound for MSSU, though her ability to swing the bat and play defense could see her playing both ways.
“When I talked to (Coach Gray) I let him know she would be a tremendous asset at the plate and can play the outfield, run balls down in the gaps, and play first base, as well. I think she can help them out in a lot of different places.”
Hodson dominated the competition on the mound this season to the tune of a 20-3 record with a 0.82 ERA, 109 strikeouts and 20 walks in 128 innings. Opponents only hit a combined .197 against her.
“She really improved on her walk total,” Shaddox said. “Last year her walk total went down considerably and her control stood out. She’s a great girl, worked hard. I think that was the thing that made her such a good pitcher, she just worked hard all of the time.
“We’re going to miss her tremendously next year.”
While she’s often noted for her pitching, Hodson was no slouch at the plate. She set a new school record for home runs this season with six. Three players previously shared the record with five homers apiece, but Hodson now stands alone. She also led the team in RBIs with 33 this season. She finished third on the team with a .437 batting average with nine doubles, a triple, the aforementioned six homers, a .479 on base percentage and a .770 slugging percentage while also contributing on defense.
In other words, she’ll be able to help a talented Lady Lions squad that went 26-24 in 2013.
“She was just an all-around great player,” Shaddox said. “She worked hard. I just really felt like Kali was the best pitcher in the area. That’s just the kind of player she was. She just wanted to be on the mound all the time.”