All Saints sends three athletes to next level

Committing their collegiate futures on Thursday at the Bruce G. Brookshire Family Student Athletic Center were (from left) pitcher Owen Harris (Briar Cliff University), volleyball player Katrina Kastmo (Mary Hardin-Baylor) and catcher Chandler Hammond (The Citadel). (Victor Texcucano | Tyler Morning Telegraph)

When Katrina Kastmo joined the All Saints volleyball team as a freshman, she had some pretty big shoes to fill: those of her all-everything sister, Alisia, who had just left to play for Texas A&M.

Four years later, Katrina has left her own mark on the Lady Trojans program, capped by securing her future at Mary Hardin-Baylor next fall.

Kastmo secured her future along with Trojans baseball players Chandler Hammond (The Citadel) and Owen Harris (Briar Cliff University) on Thursday at the Bruce G. Brookshire Family Student Athletic Center.

Kastmo started her Lady Trojans career by earning District Newcomer of the Year honors as a freshman. She was second-team all state as a sophomore before earning first-team all-state honors her junior and senior years. Kastmo, who averaged 21.5 kills per match as a senior, is a two-time selection on the All-East Texas volleyball team.

"Katrina is one of those players that you look back on and say I'm glad I had the chance to coach somebody with that much God-given talent," All Saints coach Bryan Winegeart said. "Especially being a first-year coach, it was nice to have somebody like Katrina that I could lean on."

Kastmo follows in her sister's footsteps by heading to Central Texas. Kastmo had planned on going NCAA Division II, but after visiting the Division III school's campus in Belton, her mind was made up.

"I couldn't imagine anything better and at that point I was like, I don't care what level it is, I just love the school," Kastmo said.

Like Kastmo, Hammond is following in the footsteps of an older sibling. Hammond's brother played football at NCAA Division I The Citadel, which led him to the South Carolina university.

Hammond, a catcher who batted .400, was named first-team all state the last two seasons. Trojans coach Jerry Courtney praised his backstop's leadership qualities.

"A lot of things that happen in our baseball program rolled right, in the offseason and the in-season, was because of his leadership," Courtney said.

Hammond credited his coach for his growth in that area.

"I've learned a lot from coach Courtney about being a leader," Hammond said. "He's taught me how to control how I do it, not as much being loud, it's saying stuff at the right time and knowing what to say."

Hammond will hope to compete for the starting job after the Bulldogs' last catcher was drafted and went pro.

Harris also hopes to secure playing time in his first year at Briar Cliff, an NAIA school located in Sioux City, Iowa. That he's playing in college comes down to an incident in seventh grade.

Back then he was throwing a bullpen session when Courtney left him alone for a few minutes.

The Trojans coach came back to find Harris throwing side arm.

"What in the heck are you doing?" Courtney asked, receiving a non-committal response. "If you're going to do that, I'm going to show you the right way to do it."

Harris then worked to perfect his craft and became a true submarine pitcher. That in turn helped him get noticed at the next level.

"I think it played in a lot because I don't have the God-given traits of a really good athlete," Harris said. "I have to do things other people don't do to stand out. Being able to throw submarine separates me from everybody else."

Harris, a four-year letterman, sported a 1.37 ERA as a senior. A lot of his success came down to having a coach with experience throwing the unorthodox style.

"He always knew what to tell me to fix it," Harris said of Courtney, who was a submarine pitcher in high school and college. "It was really easy to succeed with somebody who knew what they were talking about."

Harris was about to commit to a school near Chicago before he visited the Iowa school, which prompted his commitment to the Chargers.

"Owen was one of those guys that was always interested in making himself better," Courtney said. "While the playing careers of some guys are over, Owen has developed an opportunity for himself by being able to do something that not a lot of guys can do."

Notes: Kastmo and Harris are planning to major in business while Hammond is undecided. … The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, is located in Charleston. Hammond lived in South Carolina before moving to Tyler. … Katrina said Alisia may pursue a professional volleyball career in Europe.

 
 

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