Hearld having big year as freshman for 17-1 Indian softball
By KLINT SPILLER
Hays High pitcher Hannah Hearld isn’t your typical, run-of-the-mill freshman.
Many freshmen struggle when they first play at the higher competition level of high school softball — but not Hearld. She hit the ground running.
Though Hearld said she was nervous before games early in the season, it hasn’t shown.
Hearld has been the Indians’ ace and best hitter this spring, sporting a 0.69 ERA and .603 batting average.
“(Nerves were) never something that affected her performance,” said fourth-year head coach Abby Maska. “She is able to get over those feelings or push them to the side and really pitch through any nerves that she’s had.”
Maska said she had known the team was going to be getting something special for several years now.
Hearld, who has played softball since she was a child, has competed on traveling teams and gone through extensive bullpen sessions with her father and coaches.
“I have played a lot of ball in the past before high school, so it’s not anything new,” Hearld said.
A few years ago, Maska said she got a glimpse of what was to come.
Hearld was waiting for the field after Hays High had finished practicing, and as girls were waiting for rides, Maska said Hearld pitched to some of the varsity players.
And she struck many of them out.
“It didn’t matter who she came up against,” Maska said. “She was able to work around them.”
Maska said Hearld’s control is what makes her such a dominating pitcher. Hearld, who is 11-1 this season, strikes out 6.7 batters per seven innings while walking just 1.7 batters per seven innings.
“I wouldn’t say she dominates with her speed, but she is very smart and places the ball well,” Maska said.
Sophomore Haley Wells has been Hearld’s catcher for the past six years, and Wells said Hearld’s cool demeanor in the circle this season is nothing new.
“She is never negative about her pitching,” Wells said. “She is never in a slump, and she’s always accurate.”
Wells said Hearld’s positive nature rubs off on the team as well.
“Even if she isn’t having a good day, she doesn’t get negative and she doesn’t get down on everybody,” Wells said. “Everybody follows her and her mood.”
However, those bad days are few and far between, so she doesn’t have much to be negative about.
The Hays High softball team is 17-1, and if the Indians sweep their doubleheader Tuesday at Garden City, then they’ll share the WAC championship with Great Bend.
And with the regional tournament and state on the horizon, the Indians have a lot more they want to accomplish. Maska has been giving Hearld the bulk of pitching this season to try to prepare her for later, so Hearld likely will be a big part of whatever Hays High accomplishes this year.
“Hannah is our ace,” Maska said. “She is going to be our go-to pitcher going into the postseason.”