When deciding on which college to attend, freshmen athletes base their decisions off past successes and well-established programs. For one softball player, the decision to join Texas State’s decorated softball program was a no-brainer.
Tara Oltmann, freshman second baseman and infielder, said the environment at Texas State won her over with the help of a welcoming coaching staff and team.
“I went to a lot of camps and got to tour Texas State’s campus and I just really loved the atmosphere,” Oltmann said. “The facilities were great, and the coaches seemed very approachable. The players seemed very cool as well.”
The Giddings, Texas, native’s choice in programs proved to be the right one. Oltmann got her taste of championship gold in her first year when the Bobcats pulled out a Sun Belt Conference Championship win.
“Being a part of a successful program was definitely very exciting,” Oltmann said. “I know they recently had success in the past, so just to be a part of that meant even more. The fact we were able to win both in the regular season and conference tournament meant (a lot).”
Oltmann’s first year of college softball was full of learning experiences, and it brought a large change in lifestyle and realization that failures would be an an unavoidable part of the journey.
“Probably the most important thing I learned this season, especially at this level, is that I’m going to fail more than I succeed,” Oltmann said. “Back in high school, you were probably the number one player on your team. Here in college, you’re not always going to do as good as you hoped.”
Within her first year with the team, Oltmann finished top five in several offensive categories. She tied for second in hits (47), taking fourth in home runs, and third in RBIs (34).
Much of what Oltmann learned this season came from the veteran players who helped raise her confidence.
“The seniors would always try to help me get to where I wanted to go,” Oltmann said. “If I had any questions during practice they were always eager to answer them, and they always wanted me to reach my fullest potential. Sometimes they’d see more positive qualities in me than I would.”
Oltmann knows the exit of this year’s esteemed senior class will leave the team with a large hole to fill. Whether it be herself or another player, they’ll need to up their game to a new level.
“I don’t know if I’ll be playing Ariel Ortiz’s position next year, or what coach has planned, but I know whoever has to fill those roles will have to be great defensive players,” Oltmann said.
Before joining Texas State, Oltmann played on the Texas Blaze 18U Gold team, part of the Texas Blaze Fastpitch Club, a youth softball organization.
Oltmann’s former coach with the Texas Blaze, John Carpenter, noticed firsthand the freshman’s ability to plan ahead and stand out, as well as hold her ground as a member of the successful team.
“Tara is determined, focused, and intentional,” Carpenter said. “She works on ‘purpose with a plan,’ and thinks through the process.”
During Oltmann’s time under Carpenter, the coach took notice of the second baseman’s level of maturity and ability to translate her raw emotion on the diamond.
“She has maturity unlike many I’ve seen,” Carpenter said. “She is the ultimate teammate. She is selfless in all aspects of life. Tara loves people deeply and transfers that love to the dirt.”
With a championship win in her first season with the Bobcats, the rookie has high expectations for her second year. Oltmann is aiming for the goal of reaching the NCAA Softball World Series.
“Now that I have one year of college ball under my belt, I know what to expect,” Oltmann said. “Now that we won both regular season and tournament, I expect us to be in the same position that we were in this year, and take a run at the NCAA tournament.”