It was in 2003 that J.B. Slimp founded the Texas Blaze Fastpitch Club. Soon after, Slimp’s club was one of the top Select programs in Texas. Today, the Round Rock-based club is one of the premier softball programs in America.
Slimp serves as head coach of the Texas Blaze 18U Gold team. This summer, Salado High School junior Malory Schattle was one of 15 members on this ultra-prestigious squad.
“We had a lot of success this summer and played in three of the top tournaments in the nation,” Slimp said. “All 15 of our kids are very talented — they’re each committed to a Division I school — and Malory was never out of our starting lineup.
“Malory is an amazing outfielder — her arm is ridiculous. She’s a fantastic shortstop, too. She’s a very consistent hitter and you have to keep in mind we’re facing some of the toughest pitching in America.
“Malory doesn’t strike out. That’s a huge plus for a coach: I know Malory will always put the bat on the ball. She’s a total team player, her teammates love her and I feel very blessed to be able to coach her.”
This spring, just a sophomore, Schattle earned KDH All-Area Offensive Most Valuable Player honors. In 151 at-bats, she had 75 RBIs and 10 home runs. She had an on-base percentage of .645 and batted .591. She was, of course, a major component in Salado reaching the Elite Eight for the first time in school history.
“Simply put,” Slimp said, “Malory had an excellent summer for us, too. And, yes, she is a great offensive player. She’s solid and can hit with power. But I can also say for certain that, on defense, she has one of the greatest arms to ever come through this pro-
Schattle enjoyed her season of summer ball.
“You learn the virtue of teamwork playing for this team,” Schattle said. “You don’t see any of your summer teammates during the school year and then, out of the blue, you’re put together in the summer and you must blend as a team quickly. We did that and had a lot of fun and a lot of success.”
Slimp has a strong recall of when he first watched Schattle play.
“It’s an interesting and funny story,” he said. “I watched Malory play in some tournament when she was in seventh grade and I said to one of my assistant coaches, ‘Now there is a girl that will one day be good enough to play on the Blaze.’ Then, a few years later, I saw a ‘skills video’ of this great player and I’m watching it and I’m very impressed. And then I checked the name on the video and it was Malory Schattle. And that’s really how she ended up joining us.”
Schattle has already committed to play softball for the Texas Longhorns.
“Like I said, we had 15 committed Division I athletes on this team this summer, including five that will be going to play for Texas — and Malory is of course one of those five — so, yes, this is one talented team,” Slimp said. “And Malory certainly showed everyone she belongs at this level. She knows how to keep an even demeanor which is so critical to being a great softball player.”
Schattle batted in the No. 6 position this summer.
“There were a lot of tough pitchers we faced so, once in a while, I went into a slump,” Schattle said. “But I’d quickly figure out a way to get out of that slump by getting on some way — a hit here or there or even getting hit by a pitch.”
Next week, Schattle will begin volleyball practice for Salado. And by January, she’ll be putting her softball spikes back on.
“I know we lost some key softball players to graduation,” she said. “And we’re also moving up from 2A to 4A. But I’m already looking forward to it. I know we have some solid kids that will be moving up to varsity.
“We’ll be ready to go. We’ll be ready.”
Contact Allan Mandell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7566 and read his column at KDHPressbox.com