BY DENNIS SILVA II | DENSILVA2@GMAIL.COM
On the first day of what promises to be a different and adaptive school year for Katy ISD because of drastic accommodations due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19, Katy High slugger Olivia McFadden showed she’s got no problem with change.
McFadden, the Tigers’ Class of 2021 hard-hitting third baseman and 2019 state champion, decommitted from UTSA and verbally committed to Purdue on Wednesday. On Oct. 12 of last year, McFadden verbally committed to the Roadrunners, noting the coaching staff’s genuine interest in her personal development, on and off the field, as well as the program’s commitment to improving athletic performance through sport science and technology.
But McFadden started entertaining the prospect of playing at Purdue when the coaching staff reached out to her travel ball coach to express interest a couple of weeks ago.
“I initially didn’t think they were serious because most schools were finished recruiting for (the class of) 2021 and focused on 2022s,” McFadden said.
After talking with Purdue, McFadden realized the interest was not random. The Boilermakers had been watching her for a while.
“It was probably the hardest decision I’ve ever made because I have so much respect for the coaching staff at UTSA,” McFadden said. “However, when I’m finished playing softball, I walk away with a degree from Purdue that sets me up for a successful life after softball. In addition, their facilities are second to none and the opportunity to play in the Big 10 is pretty sweet.”
Indeed, playing in a Power 5 conference was an opportunity too sweet to pass up.
“The talent is elevated,” McFadden said. “I didn’t spend the last 10 years of my life grinding in this sport and sacrificing birthday parties and sleepovers to only run from competition now. I’m built for this and I can’t wait. So now I’ll get a chance to sharpen my tools against some of the best the sport has to offer and I’m excited about that challenge.”
The Tigers’ 2020 season was abruptly canceled after 12 games due to COVID-19. In her junior season in 2019, helping lead Katy to its second state championship in five years, McFadden hit .367 with 41 RBIs and 11 home runs to go with a .435 on-base percentage and .827 slugging percentage.
“The seniors that graduated last year deserved a better send-off than that,” McFadden said. “But this team is committed to getting back to Austin this year. Nothing would be sweeter than going out with a bang. We have some talented freshmen coming in and returners that are ready to carry on the Tiger tradition and make this season special.”
McFadden said she continues to work tirelessly on improving her softball IQ, understanding situations and how teams pitch her. She’s worked on adjustments during at-bats to put her in better counts. Defensively, she has improved her arm strength and increased her range, spending most of the summer in the weight room.
“I want to become more consistent,” she said. “It feels good to put this behind me and get back to stressing over normal stuff and focusing on the unfinished business we have on the dirt this season. If we can stay healthy and execute, I like our chances of doing something special this season.”