Victoria Advocate AdvoSports

Shiner senior more than just a teammate
Saturday, March 7, 2015
by Antonio Morales, Victoria Advocate Sports Article   |   Shiner Softball   |   Shiner Comanche Sports Home Page

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Shiner senior catcher Tamara Hajek fields a pitch during practice Saturday in Shiner. Hajek is one of two seniors for the Lady Comanches and coach Steven Cerny jokingly calls her the "Mama Tam" because she likes to make sure her teammates are taken care of.
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all photos by Yi Lee, Victoria Advocate
SHINER - It's not her job, but she'll make sure the bus is loaded with all the proper equipment for road games.

She also knows the specific bat her teammates prefer.

She has the extra glove ready when a teammate forgets theirs.

These are the tendencies that earned Tamara Hajek the nickname "Mama Tam" at Shiner.

"If (a player) ever needs anything, they head to her," said junior pitcher/first baseman Cece Darilek.

Hajek always goes out of her way to make sure everyone is taken care of off the diamond. She's providing her team all the support she can while she's on it, too.

The senior catcher was first team all-district and all-academic last season, and this season she's followed up that effort by piling up a .583 batting average with two home runs, four doubles, nine RBIs and 16 runs for the Comanches, who are off to a 6-1 start to the season.

"She's got the whole package," Shiner coach Steven Cerny said. "She has a great work ethic, she takes everything serious and she's a great leader."

Cerny admits Hajek isn't too much of a vocal leader. But it's not too hard for people to follow the lead with a willpower like Hajek's.

Hajek, who says she grew up working and just flat-out enjoys it, has held a job since she was in the seventh grade.

She has worked as a cashier and a bagger at a local grocery store, and held an office job at Jahn Refrigeration in Yoakum.

"If she's not doing sports ...," said Claudine Hajek, Tamara's mother. "She's usually working."

Currently, Hajek is working as a ranch hand for a local doctor in Shiner, where she takes care of cows and show horses by making sure they're fed and groomed properly.

That could be considered a side job to the work she's putting in on the field.

As a senior, there's been added responsibilities for Hajek this season.

Last season, Hajek could have been found in the leadoff-spot in the batting order. Now she's batting batting third, the spot usually reserved for the team's best hitter.

"She can give you the RBI pop you need," said Cerny, who explained his reasoning for the move. "We wanted her to have the opportunity to drive in runs."

Her RBI numbers show she's been plenty capable of that so far.

Hajek is playing catcher this season, which is what she played a year ago.

"I've played a different position every year," Hajek said. "This is the first year I've actually got to stay in the position I played last year. I actually like being a catcher because I get to see the field."

The senior played third base and pitched some her freshman year. As a sophomore, she migrated to second base and then moved to catcher her junior year.

The Comanches are a young team, so that's where Hajek's prior experiences have value.

If somebody doesn't know where to position themselves at second base, she can point them in the right direction.

If the third baseman doesn't understand the defense, Hajek will do her best to make sure they learn it.

"She knows the game," Cerny said. "Her attention to detail is what makes her so good. She has an answer for everything.

"Before last year, she had played different positions (every season). She knows everything that's going on."

Hajek doesn't get too high or low with her emotions, according to Cerny, who believes that helps her with her consistency.

The coach thinks emotional players tend to be more inconsistent because they have a more extreme range of highs and lows.

Failure may do some damage to a teenage athlete, but Hajek's approach to it is pretty simple.

"You have to learn from your errors and mistakes," she said. "I mean, if you're aggressive at the plate, that's always good whether you do something good or if you strike out. You have to have the same approach every time, you have another chance on every play."

Shiner was ranked No. 3 in Class 2A in the Texas Girls Coaches Association softball poll earlier this week.

Hajek, who will attend Sam Houston State and major in nutrition and kinesiology, said she or the team hasn't really paid mind to those rankings. The team that sat atop those rankings was Weimar, which has been a thorn in the Comanches' side the past two postseasons.

Those consecutive setbacks in the regional final have robbed Hajek of what she thinks this year's team has the potential to do, which is make it all the way to state.

To reach those goals this season, Shiner's road will probably go through the Wildcats.

If her team is really following the lead of "Mama Tam," and a rematch with Weimar were to surface in the postseason, then they'll make sure to keep taking their swings at them.

More Photos
all photos by Yi Lee, Victoria Advocate
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Shiner High School softball starting catcher Tamara Hajek's helmet and bat hang in the dugout of the Shiner softball field. Taylor Hajek, left, pitches to her sister Tamara Hajek, a senior at Shiner, during a hitting practice Saturday in Shiner. Tamara Hajek gets ready for a practice drill demonstration on Saturday, March 7 in Shiner.
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Shiner senior Tamara Hajek hits a ball during Saturday's practice in Shiner. Shiner catcher Tamara Hajek, right, and her sister, Taylor, joke around while gathering gear at Saturday's practice. Shiner senior Tamara Hajek gets her gear ready for practice. Hajek is a senior starting catcher for Shiner High School softball team.

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