SLN All-Area Player of the Year

Hribar hit 17 homers from leadoff spot

Kallista Hribar can’t hold back excitement as she rounds the bases after one of her 17 home runs. (Rick Benavides/SLN)

 

By Mike Ramczyk

sports@southernlakesnewspapers.com

Talk about a transitional year.

One season after advancing to the WIAA Division 1 state quarterfinals in Madison, the Union Grove softball squad began its state follow-up with an uphill climb.

Gone was longtime coach Ryan Boylen, and chemistry issues and in-fighting led to a slow start.

But the Lady Broncos persevered, and a late-season rally got them to the regional final, where they lost to eventual state runner-up Wilmot, 2-1.

Perhaps the biggest reason behind this improvement was the monstrous bat of senior catcher Kallista Hribar.

The lefty slugger smashed 17 home runs and hit well over .600 to earn first team all-state, first team all-county and first team all-conference honors.

Hribar hit multiple homers in three games, had six RBIs in a game and boasted an other-worldly 2.253 on-base-plus-slugging percentage (.691 OBP, 1.562 slugging).

Moved to the leadoff spot by new coach Tom Odell to maximize her at-bats, Hribar only finished with 31 RBIs, but she was unanimously voted the Racine County player of the year.

Her historic season can be attributed to a tireless offseason workout regimen, which included two hours of weight training per week.

Hribar, who has dabbled in wrestling, football, tae kwon doe and basketball in middle school growing up in Raymond, said this turned what used to be deep fly balls into home runs.

“My offseason workout was the difference this year,” said Hribar, who hit five home runs as a junior. “ Not having Boylen on the sideline telling me what I need to work on at every at-bat motivated me to hit the weights and make myself stronger.”

“Boylen helped me with the mental game and the critiques in my swing, and now it was my turn to put in the work.”

With a .983 fielding percentage behind the plate, Hribar also possesses a rocket arm and tons of speed on the base paths.

She will play for Lakewood Community College in Ohio this fall.

Southern Lakes Newspapers recently caught up with Hribar to discuss her historic success.

 

SLN: After advancing to state last year, how challenging was this year losing Coach Boylen and learning new chemistry with new players?

KH: Coach Boylen was a huge part of my softball career. I could say he made my mental game stronger, my hitting mechanics cleaner, and gave me that person to lean on. He was like my dad on the field.

Not seeing him at third base was hard enough. Brittany Moore and I have played together since I could remember, and this year was the first time not having her on the field with me. Just those people alone motivated me this year.

Yes we had a great run last year, but I can’t keep playing in the past. Union Grove is held to a high standard in softball, so the chemistry with the players is very crucial. I made a lot of strong bonds with all the players. The catcher for next year, Megan Baker, I feel like I took her under my wing and had to break her out of her shell and be loud, so she can be the leader on the field next year.

 

SLN: Personally, why did you have such a big year offensively?

KH: Last year I had a good year, five home runs. This year I went through training at Razor Sharp in Racine. A program called SPS. I have trained there since last October. My fly outs in the outfield last year are now home runs this year. The training always worked on quick feet and hitting the weights, which helped the velocity of my throws.

Hribar possesses a compact, explosive swing and can hit for power and average. (Rick Benavides/SLN)

SLN: I saw you can squat 205 pounds. Take me through your training regimen, and how much does lifting weights help?

KH: It was the SPS program two times a week for an intense hour. Working on improving my bench, my hand clean, and my squat.

 

SLN: What’s your approach at the plate? What does it take to hit for power?

KH: My approach at the plate sounds cliché, but I just don’t think. I can’t hear a thing when I am up to bat. Everything is just focused on a base hit. I will never go up to the plate thinking I need to hit a home run. All I need is a base hit. Thinking about getting a base hit will lead to solid contact and will lead to getting a home run. Thinking about hitting a home run will throw everything I learned out the window, and my mechanics will be a mess. When I am in the dugout, I look at when the pitcher is throwing her change up. Does she slow down? What is her go-to pitch on 3-2? All these little things help me.

I have never taken a hitting lesson, and I’ve always critiqued myself until the time I went to high school. Boylen helped me tweaked my swing just a little bit.

 

 

SLN: What was your favorite memory from the season?

KH: My favorite memory from the season is all the fun practices we would have. Ally McMillan and I would hit our chest every time we would make a good play during practice and then the rest of the team started doing it. Just the little things. Also, I enjoyed talking to Megan Baker while warming up the pitchers on game days.

 

SLN: Off the field, who has been your biggest inspiration? Where did your love of softball come from?

KH: I have always looked up to Coach Boylen and Coach Steph. Coach Boylen has given me so many talks about my mental game and my hitting, and if I just play my game I will be the player I was this season. If it wasn’t for the talks by him, I wouldn’t be the player I am today.

I always looked up to coach Steph since the day I met her. She has been the person I have leaned on in the dugout when I need a person to pick me up when I am down or had a bad play. I wouldn’t be able to play if it wasn’t for my parents there to support my every move, helping with college, and hauling me around to every game. They are the biggest inspiration anyone could ever have.

 

SLN: What are your plans for the rest of the summer and next school year?

KH: My summer plans are making a little extra money before college at the family business, Hribar Corporation. I am attending LakeLand Community College in Kirkland, Ohio next season. Where Lakeland takes me after my two years is a mystery, yet I’m excited for the future.

 

Meet Kallista Hribar

Softball is … something that has been a part of me since I was little. When softball is over that means the “real world” starts.

I am player of the year because … I put in the hardest work in the off season.

Favorite movie: “Lilo and Stitch”

Favorite song: “Drowning,” Kodak Black

Pregame ritual: I have to put my left sock on before right even before practice. Eyeblack is a must! Always have seeds.

Favorite Social Media: Twitter

Ideal hangout: Working out at Razor Sharp

In 10 years? I am going to be 28, so I really hope I have a steady job and income. Hopefully I have my life together.

If you could have dinner with one person dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Derek Jeter would be someone I would want to have dinner with because he is not only bomb at baseball, but seems like a guy that thinks of others before himself.

 

 

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