Seguin High School seniors and lifelong friends Whitney Wendel (left) and Jessi Herbold (right) finalized their commitments to play softball and volleyball, respectively, for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi together during a signing ceremony and reception Wednesday morning in the Goldie Harris Gym foyer.
(Seguin) – Signing a National Letter of Intent with an NCAA Division I athletic program is a thrilling moment in its own right, but when your best friend sits next to you and commits to the same school, the feeling of excitement goes off the charts.
Seguin High School seniors Whitney Wendel and Jessi Herbold shared that experience Wednesday morning in the Goldie Harris Gym foyer when Wendel signed to play softball and Herbold finalized her volleyball commitment to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
Wendel was the first to commit to the Islanders, and says Herbold’s decision to do likewise was icing on the cake.
“She was stuck between TLU and Texas A&M-Corpus, and I was like, I’m not going to tell you what to do, but…Corpus,” Wendel said. “It’s one of the greatest feelings ever to have my best friend right next to me signing that letter of intent.”
Herbold echoed Wendel’s sentiments, and says a number of circumstances aligned to put both athletes on the same road to Corpus Christi.
“We always thought we were going to go separate ways,” Herbold said. “We knew were going to stay best friends, but like, it just kind of sort of happened, and we were both like wow, it’s actually happening. We’re going to the same college.”
Herbold, a 6’4” middle blocker, was an All-District performer on the Seguin volleyball team that advanced to the 5A Region IV championship match last fall. She led the Matadors with 95 blocks and also recorded 268 kills during the 2016 season.
A number of factors beyond her friendship with Wendel made A&M-Corpus Christi an attractive choice for Herbold.
“When I went to visit it, I saw the campus, how it’s right on the beach, and I love the beach,” Herbold said. “I don’t always get to go whenever I want, because we live so far away, but it was really pretty, and then the coaches were just so welcoming, and they told me how they coach the team and how successful the team has been, they made me really like – that’s what I want.”
Seguin head volleyball coach Kristi Stanley says an unyielding work ethic has been as important in Herbold’s success as her size and athleticism, and believes the improvement curve will continue on the upswing at the college level.
“As soon as she came in, she was 100 percent every single day, no matter how she felt, not matter what other conditions were going on,” Stanley noted. “She’s just absolutely one of the most hardest working kids, and she’s going to continue to grow. Her senior year, she was remarkable in the strides that she had from the year before in reading the ball and being able to penetrate more on her block, and she was just absolutely huge at the net, and I know that she’s going to continue to grow and just has that much more to offer.”
Wendel has been a four-year varsity starter in the Seguin softball program, playing catcher as a freshman, junior, and senior, as well as left field as a sophomore. She earned All-District accolades in each of her first three seasons, and had one of the most prolific offensive campaigns in school history as a junior in 2016, leading the Mats in batting average (.483), home runs (8), RBIs (41) and doubles (13). Wendel weighed multiple school options, but chose A&M-Corpus Christi after making a connection with Islanders assistant coach Stephanie Peace.
“My other option was Schreiner, and I got along with the coach really well, but I went to the A&M-Corpus camp, and Coach Peace and I clicked like that,” Wendel said. “Our personalities are just so similar, and we linked automatically, and I went to another camp, and they offered me. I was like, you know what, it just feels right. A&M Corpus is for me.”
Seguin head softball coach John Garcia says Wendel’s skill set is ready made for the college game.
“She’s got the swing, she’s got the mechanics, she’s got the tools to be successful,” Garcia said. “It’ll be a transition going from the high school game to the college game for her, especially Division I, but it’s going to be one that she’s going to make smoothly.”
The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi volleyball team, coached by Steve Greene, won the Southland Conference championship last season with perfect 16-0 conference mark, qualified for the NCAA Tournament, and went 24-8 overall. The A&M-Corpus Christi softball team, coached by Blake Miller, is 5-15 this season.