If Pleasant Hope’s Catlin Evans wins the 1 Award for her outstanding softball season in 2012, you can bet that her fellow seniors will be at the top of her “thank you” list. This is because Catlin might not have even been playing softball if it wasn’t for the persistent efforts of her teammates to get her to give the sport a try in the 5th grade.
“Kari Hillenberg would tell me every day to come play softball, and I was like “no way”. My dad and my older sisters raised me to be a basketball player,” Evans said. “My friends just kept begging me to play and I finally gave in and listened.”
Eight years and a state title later, Catlin’s teammates convincing her to give this softball thing a try might be the most important persuasion in the history of Pleasant Hope.
As soon as she had committed, Catlin and her teammates started to set goals. Goals set by middle school kids can usually be taken with a grain of salt, but the Pirates were dead serious about theirs.
“We all got together and made a vow when we were in middle school,” Evans said. “We were going to win Coach Jim Flora a state championship, no matter what.”
When the girls finally arrived to PHHS, they didn’t wait to achieve this goal. Taken under the wings of the seniors on the team, Catlin and her freshman teammates were encouraged to step up and make an impact right off of the bat. With an infield composed entirely of freshman, the Pirates already made a trip to state.
“It was the perfect season, I remember everything,” Evans said.
Then the girls fell victim to the classic sophomore slump the next year. While this was a painfully stark contrast to their freshman season, it ultimately ended up serving as a useful motivational tool.
“That woke us up,” Evans said. “We realized we weren’t as good as we thought we were. Coach Flora knew how to use the lesson learned that season to make us mad and work harder.”
The motivation worked. The Pirates went undefeated their junior season until the state championship when they ran into a red hot Palmyra team. Still, Evans and her teammates were pleased with how they bounced back from their sophomore year and couldn’t wait to give it one final shot in 2012.
“We took everything to heart, we worked on everything. We lost the state championship, but we knew we were ready to win it our senior year,” said Evans.
The 2012 season got off to a bumpy start, but Caitlin and her fellow seniors addressed the problem early with every member of the team.
“We knew it was our last season, so the seniors came together,” Evans said. “But we needed everyone to buy in. We went to the younger players and said “we want it for you guys too”, and then we all buckled down as a team. That meant a lot to me.”
The Pirates dominated from that point on, with Evans posting a .409 batting average with 3 home runs, 18 RBI, 23 stolen bases and a .555 on-base percentage. The team captured its first state title and Evans was awarded with First-Team All-State honors as a catcher. The town embraced the Pirates for their outstanding efforts.
“It sounded like we were in a concert when we won,” Evans said. “The little girls in the elementary school looked up to us, and now they have started playing summer ball. It is great to know that the future classes are already preparing to carry on the tradition now that we are done.”
Evans will continue her career at Central Methodist in the fall. She knows that it will be more competitive than high school, but she is up for the challenge. Naturally, she has her goals set high.
“I’ve never really had to fight for a spot like I am going to have to do at CMU,” said Evans. “It will be different, but I am looking forward to it. I want to win a national title.”
Getting to know Catlin Evans
Favorite team? St. Louis Cardinals
Pregame superstitions? Never pray before a game Most disliked athlete? LeBron James
Favorite movie? Big Jake or McClintock
Favorite musical artist? Easton Corbin Favorite actor? John Wayne Favorite athletic memory? Going to state freshmen year and winning state senior year Song on your iPod you are ashamed of? Not ashamed of any song on my iPod Hidden talent? I box
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