Robinson wins Lafayette Position Player of Year
Extra laundry detergent was always needed when it came time for Lafayette High softball coach Katie Moore or one of her assistants to wash Emily Robinson’s uniform.
There wasn’t a single game, in 2014, 2013 or any other year, where Robinson wasn’t sliding, diving and getting dirty. Her never-quit attitude and tremendous work ethic not only make the sophomore shortstop a team favorite, but a joy for Moore to coach even when she couldn’t slow her down.
“She never has a clean shirt, clean pants, never. No. Even in practice she gets dirty. As a coach, and I hate to say this, but we’re in the middle of the playoffs and we’re getting ready for the 4A North Half and you’ve got your shortstop diving in the hole during batting practice. I told her to stop hustling for a minute. Let’s not dive today,” Moore said. “I didn’t want to see her go down and it be a freak accident. But you can’t tell her to give me 70 percent. She is going to give you 100 percent all of the time and if she’s not, you better sit her down and ask her what her temperature is because there is something wrong with her.”
Such is the life of dealing with a talented, always hustling player like Robinson, who was named the Region 2-4A Offensive Player of the Year in 2014. Robinson, who was named MVP by her teammates as a freshman, finished the season with a .381 batting average and a team-high 37 RBIs. Robinson easily led the Lady Commodores, who finished the season with a 24-7 overall mark, with 20 doubles and while she didn’t record a home run, she was close a number of times.
“She hit the yellow out on the wall two or three times and we were just sick about it,” said Moore, who voted Robinson as her 2014 Citizen Position Player of the Year. “She is a game changer and momentum maker. Where Emily comes in batting in the three hole, if there are runners on, or if there’s not, I just know, and the team knows, she’s got the intensity up there. She’s wanting to hit. You just know she is thinking and working to have the best swing that she can. That’s the thing about her and why everybody has so much confidence in her. They know she is giving 110 percent all the time. She has the smoothest, most fundamentally sound swing on the team.”
Robinson was changed into more of a power hitter this year by design, Moore said. Instead of getting singles and having a better average, Moore wanted to see more extra base hits and RBIs, two areas that Robinson excelled in even if her average wasn’t as high as her freshman campaign.
“Last year we got singles and those hits that would just get in there, where as this year, we turned to her and had her focus on the big hits. The triples, the doubles, home runs. The thing that we had to work on the most with her this year is as good as her swing is, we had to tell her to trust in it and not force it,” Moore said. “We really worked on her swing to be more of a power hitter and a lot of times it was frustrating to her if the ball didn’t fall where she wanted it to like it did in the past.”
Extra work in the batting cage or on the field isn’t a problem for Robinson, who is already off playing summer travel softball. Her father, Patrick Robinson, is Lafayette High’s principal and he has been at the softball field countless times, during the season and off, in the effort to get better. (Bramlett Elementary librarian Connie Robinson is Katie’s mother.)
“I tell him all the time that he’s going to have to have shoulder surgery by next year because he throws so much to her. She brings him out here all hours of the day, all the time,” Moore said. “I know it was pouring down rain one Sunday and it had stopped and they were hitting in the facility and she was like ‘Can we go on the field now?’ His response was no. They are all the time in the yard and at home, she’s always playing. She also plays volleyball so she does mix in some other things so that she doesn’t burn herself out. I’m glad she does that.”
The key to success, from Robinson’s standpoint, was dragging her father up to field if she didn’t like how she practiced.
“If I need extra hitting or fielding, I just ask dad to come up here,” said Robinson, who admitted that softball was her life. “I started playing when I was 4. I’ve always played travel ball. We moved here from Jackson to Oxford when I was 4 and I don’t know what I would do without it.”
Another key to having a more powerful sophomore campaign at the plate was influence of hitting coach Greg Lewis.
“He’s been great. Coach Moore, they’ve always told me that if we don’t do enough, that we can always come up here, to just text her. I just felt like I needed to do more to help the team,” Robinson said. “My dad does ask me if I really need to come and do extra all the time because he doesn’t want me to get worn out with it. But I never feel that way. We’ve always thrown the ball around and sometimes I call Moesha (Phillips) and Avery (McCullough) up here sometimes when my dad couldn’t.”
The team-first approach is evident in the way Robinson carries herself on the field, Moore said, who used a quote from Florida State football coach Jimbo Fisher about Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston’s playing college baseball as a good example to live by.
“She is very conscious of what ”she is doing for the team, rather than ‘Did I get a hit?’ Let’s say she got a double with two outs but the next person got an out. Some kids’ mentality is I got a double, I did my part. That’s not her,” Moore said. “It doesn’t revolve around her. She will be the one that says ‘If I had done one more thing right.’ She’s very critical of herself on the field. I know one time she missed the hit-and-run (sign) and I’m sure she is still thinking about that hit-and-run. We’ve had a lot of mental sessions, talks about that. The Florida State coach said he liked that (Winston) played baseball because he knew what it’s like to fail because it helps him in his quarterback position. I sent that to her and I said ‘Do you see this is a game of failure, quit harping on the past so much.’”
Robinson has played several different positions during her career. She was a catcher at Oxford in the seventh grade and then a first baseman, third baseman, pitcher and now a shortstop. She said she liked them all.
“She just looked at me one time and said ‘Coach, just get me the ball. I don’t care what I play, I just want the ball.’ There was a time I needed her to pitch in a summer game last year and I told her to go warm up and she did. She does not care where you put her. She wants to get on the field and get dirty, and she is going to,” Moore said. “She’s very good defensively. Itawamba was the only team we worried about doing the short game on us a little bit. Emily just covers it, throws it. You just don’t get a hit off her.”
With so many seniors gone from the 2014 team, a bigger role is expected for Robinson as a junior.
“That sophomore class is going to have a lot roles next year. Between her and Hope Patton and Kylie Glass, they all play multiple positions and can, so it’s going to be toss up of what is needed,” said Moore, who was tinkering with the idea of a move from shortstop. “She is very strong at third and I liked her at third her freshman year. We moved her to shortstop after we went through stats in all games and looked at which balls where hit to third and short. Just the fact that her arm is very accurate, turning two and getting away with it quick, it worked better with her at short this year.”