With over 20 years as head coach for the Texas A&M softball program Hall of Famer Jo Evans has accumulated over 1,100 wins. She was kind enough to do an interview with us recently.
(CSN)-Over your years of coaching, what have you noticed are the biggest changes in the sport?
(Coach Jo Evans)-The distance for pitchers, three feet farther back. Helmets, they didn’t wear helmets. The ball, the equipment. The bats just so much livelier and lighter. Those are the obvious changes. Then just athletes are bigger, stronger, faster, a lot more athletic, a lot more conditioned when they get to college and especially in college. The other thing is video, a lot of video. Obviously television, so many young athletes are getting the opportunity to see what it looks like for young women to be playing the game and to play at a high level and kind of imitating that athleticism and those skills.
(CSN)-Is there one piece of advice related to softball or life in general that you pass along to all of your players?
(Coach Jo Evans)-I think a big thing is you really have to get comfortable with the fact that you are going to be uncomfortable. That you are going to be learning things that feel unnatural to you or uncomfortable to you in your training. You have to be able to be OK with that. You have to recognize that you will get comfortable but it’s going to take some time. You’re going to have lots of what you see as failure. You are going to have to figure out how to deal with failure until you can actually experience success. You’re going to learn a lot about people. Most of what you are going to learn is going to come from when people are facing challenges, when things don’t go their way. You’re going to learn a lot about yourself when things don’t go your way. Then you get to decide who you want to be, if you don’t like it, challenge yourself to do it differently or feel differently about it.
(CSN)-Who do you see is going to step up with pitching, besides Samantha Show?
(Coach Jo Evans)-Certainly Trinity Harrington. I think she has a great drop ball, good speed and really good movement. The key for her is to be healthy and stay healthy. I think Lexi Smith can help us, the transfer from Temple JC. She spins the ball well and very competitive. I think that competitiveness will come through on the field for us. Peyton McBride spins the ball really well, but doesn’t throw as hard as Samantha [Show] and Trinity [Harrington]. We got a real contrast in movement, in speed, and just velocity of pitches. I think they all complement each other really well.
(CSN)-Do you see your team as power hitters or more as speed?
(Coach Jo Evans)-I think we have a good mix actually. We’ve got a great number of our kids will hit double digit homeruns I think. You’ve got Keeli Milligan with speed and Kaitlyn Alderink with speed. Both of those kids are sophomores. Kelbi Fortenberry, a freshman, is right now faster than everybody else on our team. We are going to have a good mix of speed and also a good mix of power.
(CSN)-What does this year’s team need to accomplish to consider this coming season successful?
(Coach Jo Evans)-We need to make a run at the SEC title. I think our schedule bodes well for us. We have to stay healthy. If we don’t finish in the top third of the conference, I think that will be a frustration. Then when you look at finishing in the top third, then you have a chance at winning a national championship. It’s important for us to turn a corner and be able to compete at a higher level in the SEC.
Fun Interview Questions:
(CSN)-Do you have any secret talents?
(Coach Jo Evans)-I played the flute through junior high and high school, so that’s probably something people don’t know about me. That’s probably it.
(CSN)-What’s your favorite TV show?
(Coach Jo Evans)-I loved The Good Wife and now it’s ended so that’s sad for me. My very favorite, this is going to sound boring, is CBS This Morning show with Charles Oswald. He actually just retired, but anyway I love that show and think it’s a great show.
(CSN)-What musician was the last one you listened to?
(Coach Jo Evans)-I just went to First Friday and heard a bunch of different bands. Phil Pritchett was the last one.