LHS v Salado softball

Salado's Jenna Calder bats against Lampasas on March 22, 2016.

Gabe Wolf | Herald

Jenna Calder could not wait any longer.

Despite having her senior season approaching, Salado’s four-year letterman catcher did not want to enter her final campaign with any worries.

So, instead of waiting to see what the future may hold, Calder recently committed to Mary Hardin-Baylor, and she has no regrets.

More importantly, she has no stress.

“I definitely wanted to sign early,” Calder said, “so that I could know everything is good, and I can just play.

“I’m always overthinking things, so now, I don’t have to worry so much about impressing everyone. All I have to do now is work on myself.”

Calder is not the only person excited about the early commitment.

After years together, Salado head coach Kory Craddick believes his standout’s decision will also pay dividends for the Lady Eagles.

“Jenna definitely needs this,” he said, “because she does put a little too much pressure on herself at times, wanting to impress everyone and be the one to come up with a big hit or big throw-out.

“This is going to let her be a little more calm, relaxed and, hopefully, more successful.”

As a freshman, Calder helped the Lady Eagles post a 32-9 overall record and advance to the Region III-2A finals before landing on the all-district team as an honorable mention.

One year later, Calder was an all-district first-team selection before being placed on the second team as a junior.

Although her skills are impressive, Craddick believes the Crusaders are attracted to Calder for reasons other than the obvious.

“She’s a homegrown talent from around the area,” he said, “and she excels both in the classroom and at softball, so those three things right there are things most programs really want.

“Plus, her work ethic is second to none. … She does everything she can to help herself become better, and she is very, very intelligent, so anything she sets her mind to, she is going to achieve. That’s something college coaches always look for.”

Admittedly, Calder was initially drawn to Mary Hardin-Baylor because of its coaching staff after attending numerous camps directed by Crusaders head coach Larry Hennig. Additionally, Crusaders assistant coach Melissa Maler is a former catcher at Baylor, giving Calder a vital source of information specific to her position.

But location played a role as well.

“I really wanted to stay close to home,” she said. “That was a big thing for me — to stay close to my family.”

Mary Hardin-Baylor is coming off a 20-21 season that ended with its 15th postseason appearance, and the Crusaders are predicted to finish fourth in the American Southwest Conference preseason poll.

Salado opens its season Feb. 14 at Clifton, and while Calder will enter the game with no anxiety about her future, she still has lofty expectations for the team.

“I’m setting the bar pretty high,” Calder said. “We’re going to be young, so we are going to have to work though some things, but we have some really good talent coming up, so I think we will be just fine.”

Contact Clay Whittington at clayw@kdhnews.com

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