By Tony Adams, Sports Editor
The Belton Lady Tigers have had an outstanding lineage of catchers over the past several seasons.
Bethany Edwards is quickly and furiously rising to the top of the list of all-time backstopping greats for Belton.
Currently in the midst of a torrid eight-game hitting streak, Edwards may very well be on the best tear in Belton history over six-game span. She has 25 plate appearances, 22 at-bats, 18 runs scored, 16 hits, five doubles, seven home runs, 22 runs batted in and hitting .727.
It was a shame that the 2-of-4 performance against Killeen last Friday dropped her district batting average from .720 to .690 in nine games (20-of-29, 8 homers, 26 runs batted in, on-base percentage of .722). Those numbers are mind-numbing. For the season, Edwards is hitting .431 (35-of-64), with the team-leads in home runs (10), runs batted in (36), runs scored (34), second on the team in walks with 11 (Meredith Lusby has 12) and has an on-base percentage of .519.
Her offensive numbers were great in her freshman season, as she hit .418 (33-of-79) with two home runs and 29 runs batted in. She was only one of three players who played all 28 games in 2015 (Edwards, Sidney Holman, Kaitlyn Jones, Bekah Alcozer).
But the one thing that is overlooked the most is her work behind the plate, backstopping for the most dominant pitcher in the area today in Holman. Blessed with great catchers during her time in Belton, Holman has had great catchers in Edwards, Shelby Hitt. Add in solid part-time catchers in Sydney Andrews and Kacey Schescke and you have a corral of backstoppers that can get the job done every night. Catchers usually end up in the shadows of no-hitters and perfect games. But much in the way Hitt stood out during the processes of perfection, Edwards is standing out as well. Edwards is just a sophomore, but is fast approaching all-time great status.
Her work ethic this past off-season with former Tiger baseball standout Seth Alcozer has been a key to her season. She has shifted her catching stance to a more upright position, which allows her to easier frame pitches on the corners. It has led to strikeouts that may not normally be called, but that persuasive framing and selling is a unique part of Edwards’ defense.
“My mechanics have gotten to where I want them to be, so I feel very good about that,” Edwards said. “It feels good to contribute more to the team than before. I feel better athletically at my position.”
Having started 19 of Holman’s 22 starts, she caught all three perfect games last week and all nine District 12-6A games this season. She was been behind the plate for Holman’s school-record breaking single-season strikeout mark last Friday against Killeen. Each time Holman has thrown a shutout this season, Edwards has been the catcher.
She set the Lady Tigers’ single-season home run record of 10 on Friday night, held in triplicate by Amber Peters (2011), Alyson Bishoff (2014) and Skylar Stewart (2014). She is on pace to Bishoff’s single-season runs batted in record of 49 (she is at 36 after 23 games). Had it not been for a case of the flu on the first day of the CenTex Hit-and-Run Tournament, Edwards may be over 40 runs batted in already.
“Earlier in the season, I felt I lacked a lot of confidence,” Edwards said. “Mostly because of the preseason tournaments, I wasn’t hitting the way that I know I could. Now I believe my mental approach is where I want it to be. It helps a lot.”