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The Battalion

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‘A teammate that everybody wants to have’

Senior+outfielder+Kelbi+Fortenberry+and+junior+pitcher%2Foutfielder%26%23160%3BMakinzy+Herzog+were+teammates+on+their+high+school+select+softball+team+and+have+been+friends+since.
Photo by Kaylee Cogbill

Senior outfielder Kelbi Fortenberry and junior pitcher/outfielder Makinzy Herzog were teammates on their high school select softball team and have been friends since.

Despite coming from a family of Aggies, Texas A&M softball junior Makinzy Herzog did not follow in the footsteps of her parents and older sister. Instead, she began her collegiate career in the Sunshine State, wearing Florida State’s garnet and gold.
Herzog’s debut season as a Seminole included starting in 52 of the 55 games she saw action in. The numbers she recorded — 48 hits, 26 RBI and 58 strikeouts — led to her being named to the 2019 All-ACC Freshman Team.
Even with her freshman year success, Herzog entered the transfer portal after deciding she wanted to be closer to her family and hometown of Missouri City, Texas.
A&M head coach Jo Evans said she had watched Herzog develop as a player since she was in middle school and was familiar with her family, having recruited Herzog’s older sister Morgan.
While she was disappointed when Florida State claimed Herzog out of high school, Evans said she jumped at the second opportunity to add her name to A&M’s roster.
“We were just waiting and anticipating that release and wanted to get her the second she was in the [transfer] portal. We didn’t hesitate one bit,” Evans said. “We were beyond excited that she wanted to come to A&M. She’s a phenomenal athlete.”
Prior to becoming an Aggie herself, Herzog said she was familiar with the university and several members of A&M’s softball team.
“I actually knew quite a few people on this team from playing travel ball growing up,” Herzog said. “All in all, they weren’t the reason I came here, but it was a good feeling that I knew people when I came in.”
Senior outfielder Kelbi Fortenberry is among those Herzog knew prior to transferring to A&M.
The two played on the same select team in high school and stayed in contact their freshman year, despite living 800 miles apart. Although she would jokingly tell Herzog to come to A&M, Fortenberry said she never tried to convince her friend to join her in Aggieland.
Nonetheless, Fortenberry said she was excited for the pair to wear the same jersey again.
“I was so happy,” Fortenberry said. “I told her I might cry.”
In addition to knowing a few of her new teammates, Herzog also found a familiar face in A&M assistant coach Craig Snider. Snider was a member of Florida State’s coaching staff during Herzog’s freshman season and, at the same time as Herzog, moved to College Station to join A&M’s softball program.
Though she was new to the team, Fortenberry said Herzog had a lot to offer the Aggies, including insight regarding their new assistant coach.
“She got a lot of experience in being around those players that had won a national championship at Florida State,” Fortenberry said. “She kind of showed us the ropes of how Coach Snider works and his coaching style for hitting. It was great.”
Herzog contributes to the team on the field as a pitcher, outfielder and hitter. In her first season as an Aggie, she served as the team’s leadoff batter, recording a team-high .415 batting average, 29 runs, 34 hits, six home runs and 67 total bases.
“As a pitcher, she’s got a great presence on the mound, is highly skilled and has developed into a top-tier caliber pitcher,” Evans said. “The other thing she’s really phenomenal at is hitting. The kid can hit home runs, she can beat out an infield single, runs well and hits left-handed — just about everything you want in a hitter.”
Had COVID-19 not interrupted the season, Evans said she has no doubt Herzog would have been an All-American in 2020.
Herzog’s teammates recognize and respect her talent and productivity as well. Sophomore pitcher Ashley Daugherty said she’s proud of everything her roommate and best friend has accomplished thus far.
“I think each one of us respect Makinzy immensely just for her work ethic and obviously the numbers and what she does on the field,” Daugherty said.
Herzog’s ability to contribute to the team in a variety of ways makes her a valuable player that Evans desires to have in the game at all times. However, utilizing Herzog’s talent as much as possible without compromising her health is something the coaches and athletic training staff have to carefully balance.
“Our No. 1 priority is to make sure she’s in the lineup, and in order to do that, we have to make sure she’s healthy,” Evans said. “[In] practices, we’re careful about how much wear and tear we put on her body, how many reps she’s taking in the outfield, all the running and pitching on her arm.”
Although it’s tough, Herzog said she enjoys playing all three of her positions and sticks to a strict practice schedule each week.
“I have bullpens about three times a week, but in order to rest my arm, I won’t always throw overhand in the outfield,” Herzog said. “Sometimes I’ll take off from a few of the outfield drills to save my legs a little. We do pretty good about balancing it all out.”
Evans said Herzog’s ability to balance three positions is a testament to her work ethic and commitment to the game. However, her praise for Herzog extended far beyond the field.
“She doesn’t show a ton of emotion, she kind of keeps her nose to the grind and does her job,” Evans said. “She has fun playing, there’s no question about it, and she’s a great teammate. She’s a leader in the way she plays the game and in her work ethic.”
Daugherty spoke highly of Herzog’s athletic abilities and leadership as well.
“When I think of Makinzy, I think of someone that leads by example,” Daugherty said. “She’s probably one of the most selfless and humble teammates I’ve ever had. She’s willing to give her all to the team, and she doesn’t expect any recognition in return. I think each one of us respects Makinzy immensely for her work ethic and what she does on the field, but more so, just as a teammate. She’s a teammate that everybody wants to have.”

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  • Sophomore Pitcher/Outfielder Makinzy Herzog swings in the first inning against the UTA Mavericks.

  • Junior pitcher Makinzy Herzog recorded a team-best 0.82 ERA in 2020.

    Courtesy of Craig Bisacre, Texas A&M Athletics
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