Sam Houston State volleyball junior Breanna Homer is still hitting as much this spring as she did during the season in the fall. And she’s doing it without even touching a volleyball.
Homer is living up to her last name this spring, playing on the softball team. This is the first time Homer has been a dual athlete in her three years in college and she’s already leading the softball team in home runs and runs batted in. She ranks among the top four home run hitters in the Southland Conference.
“Towards the end of volleyball season I really felt the urge to go out and try softball,” Homer said. “You only get one chance at this. You’re only in college for four years so go out and do it. It’s a challenge being a two-sport athlete but its fun as well. You learn how to balance classes, sports and practice. But it’s great. I love it.”
The season took some adjustment for Homer. After starting the season off hitless in six games going 0-for-18, she has turned things around. She now boasts a .362 batting average, .638 slugging percent and has hit safely in 20 of her last 23 games. That includes a nine-game hitting streak in mid-March that included a 4-for-4 performance against Northwestern State.
“It took a long time,” Homer said. “My mentality was just to relax. I was so uptight at the beginning of the season. I wanted to do so much and try so hard. I just started to relax and play the game and everything started coming together. I’m enjoying being with my teammates.”
SHSU softball head coach Bob Brock said Homer has been a tremendous addition to his team in her first year since high school over two years ago.
“When she first approached us about coming out for softball, we were excited because we knew what a power hitter she was in high school,” Brock said. “Her Dad told me early on that he used to try and discourage her from swinging at first pitches. But that’s something we encourage… A couple of her first big hits were on first pitches and her Dad said after that it was okay.”
SHSU volleyball head coach Brenda Gray was encouraging when Homer approached her about playing softball. Gray’s daughter Tayler played softball for the Bearkats along with volleyball for two seasons when she was at SHSU. Two-sport athletes are rare on today’s intercollegiate landscape.
“I think you realize you grow up and you realize opportunities you could have,” Gray said. “Don’t give up on something you might want to do. If [playing softball] was something [Breanna] always wanted to do, I would never deny an athlete from that opportunity.”
And even though Gray is without Homer during spring tournaments, she still motivates and keeps up with Homer’s success on the diamond.
“I’m very close to my players and will always be,” Gray said. “They just mean a great deal to me. I just want her to know we’re supportive of her even if we can’t be at the games. We’re just excited for her.”
Sam Houston has two home Southland Conference series remaining on their 2016 schedule. The Bearkats play host to Houston Baptist Friday and Saturday, April 15 and 16 and Incarnate Word on Friday and Saturday, April 29-30. Each day’s action at the Bearkat Softball Complex begins at 3 p.m.
The top six teams in the final regular season standings (with the exception of Abilene Christian and Incarnate Word) advance to the Southland Conference tournament in Lake Charles, May 11-14, where the league’s automatic berth in the NCAA tournament will be on the line.
“That’s the goal. We all know what potential we have,” Homer said. “We’re working hard to get to our potential and it’s starting to show.”
The Kats also play a home doubleheader versus nationally ranked Texas A&M on Tuesday April 20 at 4:30 p.m.
Typical of both the softball and volleyball programs, Homer is a top student as well. The junior Health major owns a 3.34 overall grade point average (GPA). Softball and volleyball stand as two of the nine Sam Houston intercollegiate teams that posted team grade point averages above 3.00 during the 2015 fall semester. The performance paved the way to a department record high overall athletic GPA of 3.22.
Building Champions results in more than winning games, it involves creating well-rounded student-athletes. To do this, resources such as the SHSU Learning Enhancement Center and the department's tutoring programs are important tools in assisting Kat student-athletes accomplish their goals in the classroom and in life. Support the Bearkat Champions Academic Fund to directly impact the future of more than 400 student-athletes at the BEARKAT CHAMPIONS ACADEMIC FUND link.