First Academy junior Hannah Harper was a dual threat for the Royals softball team all year.
TFA junior Hannah Harper has been a dual threat for the Royals softball team this season — both at the plate and in the circle. As a pitcher and batter, she leads her team in every single category — including RBI, batting average, ERA and strikeouts. She will be playing at the University of West Florida in the fall of 2022.
When did you first get into softball?
My mom played through her childhood, and I started right when I could — about 5 years old. So my mom really got me into it. I tried other stuff before, but it didn’t really fit well, but when I started softball, I kind of just jumped right in.
What has kept you in the sport for so long?
It’s really something that I can’t get tired of, honestly. I tried basketball and other sports like that, and it just got boring at some point. I don’t know, softball is just interesting especially as a pitcher, which I also started when I was really young. You can kind of control the game almost, and you can make an impact on your team individually.
What is the most challenging part about pitching?
I’d say the most challenging part is it feels like — a lot of the time — the game is really riding on you to perform well. It could have an impact on some people’s mental health, but if you’ve been doing it for a while, you get used to it.
How do you push through a rough patch?
The thing that I normally do — especially with hitting — is you just have to keep practicing and practicing more than you have been. Usually, slumps end up happening when you haven’t been practicing as hard or you haven’t been going every day to hit and pitch. I’ve found that going every day just to practice and get out of it really helps.
As a pitcher, you play in just about every single game. How do you prepare yourself — physically and mentally — to go through that kind of a grinding schedule?
Physically, it’s a lot of stretching. We do the TENS unit here at TFA, which really helps — it shocks your arm. Mentally, I think about the game — honestly — all day, every game we have. I think about it all day, and I come to the locker room, and we play games as a team and just bond a little bit. It makes me feel better about going into the game.
Most pitchers are not particularly good hitters, but you lead the team in just about every hitting category. What is your approach to hitting that has helped you?
My coaches have been telling me this forever — especially my travel coach: “Pitchers think; batters react.” When I’m pitching, of course I have to think about what I’m throwing to the batter and everything. But when I’m hitting, I just kind of look for the one I want and take it.
Is there a highlight moment for you during your time at TFA?
I’d say Montverde this year was probably a big game for us, because TFA has never beaten Montverde before. We just went into it super strong, and we ended up pulling out a win. It was just big for the team, and it was a big turning point — we ended up having a better season after that.
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