WALES — The line drive up the middle hit Lauren Hall squarely on the shin and knocked her over.
With her pitcher down and out momentarily, Oak Hill coach Julie Boucher knew she had a reserve pitcher that could step in.
She also knew she wouldn’t need her. Boucher fully expected Hall to get back up and fire as hard as she had before.
Hall did get up, and helped hurl her Raiders to an extra-inning victory over Gardiner last week.
“She’s a toughie,” Boucher said of her junior pitcher. “Lauren wouldn’t have it. I never even thought about (pulling her out). I knew Kortni (Michaud) was available, but that we wouldn’t need her.”
Hall is a battler. Opposing teams not only have to contend with her arm but with her heart. She brings a never-say-die spirit to the Raiders. When she gets in a jam, she battles harder. When she gets knocked down, she gets right back up. She’ll bring a competitive drive in all that she does and won’t let any obstacle get in her way – not even a line drive off her leg.
“It ached a little,” said Hall. “I knew I had to suck it up and deal with it.”
Hall has been a driving force for a Raider team that started the year 8-0. They’re now 12-2 and a contender in Western B. Hall has been a significant factor in Oak Hill’s success. She’s been putting up impressive numbers all season, both on the mound and at the plate.
“I’m definitely throwing a lot more strikes,” said Hall. “I’m definitely more confident on the mound. I’ve improved in all aspects. My hitting has gone up, too.”
Hall has allowed just 18 earned runs and struck out 108 in 100 innings this season. She’s walked just eight and has an earned run average of 1.26. At the plate, she’s hitting .522. She’s scored 11 runs, driven in 16 and drilled six doubles and two home runs — both out of the park. That’s with the opposition pitching around her.
“It’s amazing,” said Hall of her success this year. “I’m very proud of myself. I’m so excited to see what’s going to happen next year.”
As much as her stats are important for the Raider’s success, her passion and competitiveness are driving forces as well. Hall isn’t afraid to be a catalyst for her team. She leads by example, but isn’t afraid to push the squad either.
“She’s taking on a big role this year,” said Boucher. “She’s really stepped it up. She’s a true captain. She digs deep and puts the pressure on you to do your best. That’s a huge difference this year. She takes out that drive and teaches them how to play well and you know that she can’t do the job by herself. She needs a defense behind her that’s going to play solid or else. That’s the kind of pitcher I want. I want someone that will say, ‘You need to step it up now because I’m doing my work on the mound and now it’s your turn.'”
That is a different Hall from last year. A year ago, she was a sophomore taking on the varsity pitching duties by herself. She was worried about getting hurt and still developing belief in herself and faith in the team behind her. This year, she is much more confident and has greater confidence in her defense. That allows her to be even more competitive and unrelenting in how she plays.
“I cannot look at defeat,” she says. “I hate defeat. I have to battle even if my finger’s bleeding.”
When Hall has had to dig deep and pitch her way out, it typically brings out the best in her.
“All the times we’ve had the bases loaded and had one out and I came through and got the outs, last year, I don’t think I could have done that,” said Hall. “They probably would have been crushing them.”
It is a tone she has set for herself and for her team. The Raiders have proved a bit tougher this year and resilient with some hard-fought victories in a challenging KVAC B field.
“When you see one person working hard, you realize that you have to do that as well,” said Boucher. “If everyone on the field is thinking that way, it makes her job easier.”