When one door closes: Robinson commits to A&M-Corpus Christi

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Caleigh Robinson celebrates after hitting a big homer against Rockwall in the regional quarterfinals back in May. (Photo courtesy of BHS Tiger Media)

Sports have unique ways of circling coaches and athletes around to cross paths.
In early 2019, Belton Tigers first baseman Caleigh Robinson made a verbal commitment to NJCAA’s Angelina College in Lufkin.
Robinson had one of her best seasons in her four years at Belton.
In 42 games, she hit .443, launching 11 homers and batted in a school-record 63 runs.
She has been playing select softball this summer, getting ready for the fall season.
And what happened next is something that every athlete recruited dreads: a coaching change at the school they are attending or are preparing to attend.
This is what happened to Robinson over the course of this summer.
Mark and Barbi Mattson departed Angelina to be the head coach and assistant coach respectively at Valley City State University in North Dakota, just months after guiding the Roadrunners to a national runner-up finish at the NJCAA National Tournament.
Robinson continued to go through select ball, while she and her family dealt with tons of questions on Caleigh’s future. The scholarship wouldn’t change, but the uncertainty of other things put Robinson in a tough position of deciding to seek an opportunity elsewhere.
That opportunity came in a big way. Division I Texas A&M-Corpus Christi made a big splash with two hires of their own: former TC head coach Kristen Zaleski and TC assistant coach Paige Williams.
“Well, my coaches that were supposed to coach me at Angelina got in contact with the new assistant, Coach (Justin) Lewis and had talked about me,” Robinson said. “He expressed interest in me and then I reached out and started talking to him and Coach Z as the summer continued. It was all a pretty quick and recent opportunity and when I visited campus I immediately fell in love with the atmosphere and everything.”
Robinson was made a scholarship offer and gladly accepted it, which gave Belton head coach Matt Blackburn another Division I player from the 2019 class. Avery Drake and Madison Cotton are both Division I commits that are heading to Houston Baptist.
“I’m very excited for Caleigh,” Belton softball head coach Matt Blackburn said. “The opportunity to get to play for a division 1 program and not to have to go through the recruiting process after playing junior college ball is huge. I think Caleigh will be a great fit with Coach Zaleski and for Corpus.”
“Honestly, it’s like a relief in a way,” Robinson said. “Not that there is anything wrong with going the JUCO route. Tons of amazing players start there and work their way up, but it takes stress off knowing I don’t have to worry about going through the whole recruiting process again in two years.”
Former Belton catcher and 2019 Belton Wall of Honor member Bethany Edwards is in the same conference as a redshirt freshman at Lamar. Former Belton pitching standout Sidney Holman-Mansell, who previously pitched at Abilene Christian, is currently at Baylor, along with former Tiger second/third baseman and TC national champion infielder Kaitlyn Jones.
She graduated Belton after four successful years which garnered her All-State nods from the Texas Sports Writers Association and Texas Girls Coaches Association.
In 146 career games, Robinson hit .453 with 24 home runs, a school-record 176 runs batted in, had 181 hits (second all-time), scored 122 run, had a school-record 49 doubles, was second all-time in walks with 72, and also second all-time with 25 hit-by-pitches. She also was tied for second all-time with a .555 on-base percentage with Avery Drake, a thousandth of a percentage point behind recent University of Texas graduate Bekah Alcozer for the all-time mark.