Power hitting and the ability to call an effective game behind home plate have become expected results for Portage junior catcher Haley Hodges.
She scored the game-winning run Thursday against Crown Point off a wild pitch in the bottom of the seventh inning. It might not be a normal experience for Hodges, but it was just another way the junior has made a crucial play for the Times No. 3 Indians (13-5).
"It's not something I do a lot," Hodges admitted. "I like to say that I'm not slow. It's kind of fun to do something unexpected.
"Every game is new, and I just keep looking to get better and better."
On offense, Hodges, a three-year starter and captain, might be one of the best hitters in the area. She's hitting .481 this season — 447 in the highly competitive Duneland Athletic Conference — with four home runs, three triples, six doubles and 21 RBIs. She also has a .942 slugging percentage and .526 on-base percentage. She's had at least one hit in 15 of the 17 games she's played this season, striking out only three times.
"She's doing a phenomenal job for us; I couldn't be prouder of her," Portage head coach Lisa Hayes said. "She didn't have a good game at the plate against Crown Point (0-for-4), but she ended up getting hit by a pitch and coming through for us. She's always trying to do her best for the team."
Hayes is an Indiana Hall of Famer and former catcher, and she has no issue handing the responsibility of calling pitches to Hodges.
"I felt like I could call the game better than a coaching sitting on the side; you could see where a batter is standing and where the pitches are landing," Hayes said. "I have complete faith in her to call a good game."
Hodges works with two freshmen, Kiley Jones and Kaitlin Doud, plus junior Heather Zengler. Doud and Zengler have tossed no-hitters this season, while Jones has a one-hitter and two two-hitters.
"I kind of know what to expect from Heather," said Hodges, who plays travel ball with Zengler in the offseason. "Even though the other two were freshmen, they've both been doing this for a while.
"I just try to be honest with all of them. I just want to try to help them get through it."