Fresno State softball infielder Katelyn ‘Katie’ Castellón isn’t your typical athlete who sports headphones and blasts rap music before each game.
Instead the Lady Bulldogs’ shortstop – with an impressive .324 batting average – shuns high-energy music to achieve the best stats in her collegiate career.
“I’ll just listen to the most depressing music I can. I’ll listen to ‘The Latch’ by Sam Smith,” said Castellón with a grin on her face, “Before and after, that’s all I’ll listen to.
“I have a playlist of all my music, but my teammates don’t really like it because they say it’s too depressing.”
Baseball/softball dates back at least four generations for the Castellón family of Stockton.
Parents Steve and Marie Castellón were sweethearts at Stagg High School. He was a pitcher and shortstop on the varsity squad, while Marie was a pitcher and second baseman on the softball team. Steve’s family owned the Castellón’s 1 through 9, an adult softball team, for many years.
“From pitchers, all through nine, was all Castellons,” said Steve.
Marie’s mother, Rosie Haanstra, was a pitcher on her father’s slow-pitch softball team in the 1970s in Stockton. Rosie didn’t have the opportunity to play for her high school, Edison, because softball wasn’t offered. Marie’s sister was also a softball player.
“I was 14 and a freshman, he was 16 and a sophomore. That’s how he saw me,” remembers Marie.
Steve remembers the few words he said to Marie during a game.
“I told her to stay down. She missed a ground ball, and I told her to stay down,” adds Steve, a 1985 Stagg graduate who was once courted by the Chicago Cubs. A hamstring injury thwarted any hope of playing pro ball. He retired last year from his position as a correctional officer.
“That was the very first thing he said to me,” chimes Marie, who coached Katie through high school.
Steve and Marie attend every Lady Bulldogs’ home game and follow the team bus on the road. They have always been there their only daughter. Katie is the middle child to two brothers, also former baseball players. When Katie competed on a travel ball team at age 8, Marie was the assistant coach.
Regarding the travel ball investment, Marie said, “Probably a little bit more than paying for all four years here (at Fresno State). And my mom coached me all the way through. It just kind of ran in the family.”
“If I would’ve known where it would have taken us, I would have bought a motorhome,” jokes Steve. “It would have been paid for with all the hotels.”
The investment has gone a long way: Katie recently enjoyed her 22nd birthday with her friends, her teammates. She’s nearing graduation from Fresno State, but is unsure about whether to continue on her criminology degree or go into firefighting.
The St. Mary’s High (Stockton) 2014 graduate and Sac-Joaquín Section standout playfully admits too many visits to In-N-Out Burger for a No. 2-combo with a strawberry shake. She was also the 2014 TCAL (Tri-County Athletic League) Most Valuable Player, St. Mary’s Player of the Year, and an all-league selection.
In her 106 times plate appearances this season, she has homered 6 times (second with teammate Kayleigh Galván, No. 1 is Savannah McHellon, 12) for the 24-15 Bulldogs (7-2 in the Mountain West Conference). She’s riding a career-high batting average for the ’Dogs, while hitting 32 RBI.
She has an on-base percentage of .431 (as of April 9), a huge change from her first three seasons when she homered twice and knocked in 26 runs.
She’s literally counting down the games, but hopes the end isn’t too soon.
“I couldn’t tell you what I’m going to do after the month of May. I think about it off and on, I have 18 games, it’s scary,” she said.
“Well this senior year is my best year at the college level. I just went back to basics and keep everything simple,” said Castellón moments before tackling tons of homework and a day prior to last weekend’s 3-day homestand against Utah State.
Upon seeing Margie Wright Diamond for the first time, she was convinced where to begin her collegiate softball career.
“Coach Flores started to recruit me my senior year. Once I got here and saw the stadium, my jaw dropped instantly. I like the community that supports the softball program. It was between Sac (Sacramento State) and Fresno State, and this is where I wanted to play,” said Katie.
The Bulldogs swept all three games against visiting Utah State over last weekend and are on the road at San José State (April 20-22), and at Boise State (April 27-29). The next homestand is May 4-7 against UNLV.
For tickets, visit gobulldogs.com.