STANDISH –  In that moment, with the state championship game on the line, Hannah Hill believed.

With runners on second and third and nobody out, the Fryeburg Academy senior knew a second straight state title hung in the balance. Her face displayed a steely resolve, but it was the faith that she had not only in herself but also in her teammates that enabled her and her Raiders to weather the storm.

“That’s when you get tested,” said Hill. “You have to honestly see where you can place yourself. I had to dig really deep. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to strike every batter in the game out. I knew they were going to get some bunts down. That’s when we know we have Tanya (Randall) crashing and Desiree (Ramsay) comes in sometimes. There are so many aspects of our team that gives me confidence that I know that nothing is too difficult to overcome. That was a hard situation. That really made us all work hard, but that also made us bounce back.”

Hill and her Raiders escaped that threat in the fifth inning in the Class B state championship game. Medomak Valley was able to get the tying run but no more. Fryeburg ultimately won the game in the eighth inning. Hill sparked the game-winning rally with a one-out single and scored the winning run. She also didn’t allow a Medomak Valley hit or baserunner after the Panthers tied the game, putting down 12 straight batters. She finished with 15 strikeouts, including two critical ones in the fifth, and allowed just two hits.

“I don’t think any human being couldn’t be nervous in a situation like that,” said Hill. “But I knew my team was behind me, and I knew what they’re capable of doing. I’ve seen them make some incredible plays. That makes me a little more mentally strong.”

Hill has won just about every individual softball award that there is in Maine but accepts each one with grace and humility. She’s respectful of the honor bestowed on her, but is deliberate in expressing her gratitude to her teammates.

Hill is this year’s Sun Journal Softball Player of the Year. That
recognition joins a litany of accolades. She was also Maine’s Gatorade
Player of the Year for the second year in a row, Western B’s
top player and earned the Miss Maine Softball award.

“Every time I get on the field, I play for my team, with my team, and I love my team,” she said. “I’m honored every time I get an individual award, but it is so nice to get an award like (the state championship) and share it with my combined team because there’s no way we could have won the game without them.”

Hill helped turn her Fryeburg into one of the state’s finest in the last two years, but she knows that the players around her have made her better. The Raiders feed off Hill, but in turn, she feeds off them.

“I think the biggest thing for Hannah is offensively, she’s improved drastically,” said Fryeburg coach Fred Apt. “She’s such a confident hitter, and that confidence spreads to her teammates.”

Hill hit for a .516 average this season and finished with 33 hits, 23 RBI and a slugging percentage of .844. Those numbers were significantly higher than last year when Hill was still one of the club’s top hitters.

On the mound, it was hard to surpass the numbers she put up last year. She went 19-1 with a 0.26 ERA. She allowed just five earned runs and struck out 276. She had four no-hitters and 13 shutouts.

This year, she went 19-1 again and a 0.46 ERA. She gave up nine earned runs and struck out 231. She finished with three no-hitters and 12 shutouts.

“She’s a smarter pitcher,” said Apt. “Her love for the game always helps her evolve into a better player each and every time we take the field. Her teammates see that, and I know that’s huge.”

Hill finished with a career record of 64-12 and a 0.57 ERA. She had 661 strike outs, 10 no-hitters and 37 shutouts. Offensively, she had a .433 average and drove in 62 runs.

Hill says last year’s experiences only helped prepare her for her senior season. She worked hard on her physical conditioning during the offseason. She improve her agility and strength and was closer to the midseason condition she craved. Most importantly, she said, she prepared herself mentally.

“I was a little more solid in what I needed to do especially going to the previous state championship,” said Hill, who will attend Seton Hall on a full scholarship. “That meant a lot. I knew what I had to do to get there. I knew I had to have the team behind me, and I knew I had to have confidence in my pitching also. It was a different mentality entering the school year. I felt strong pitching but not much stronger than last year.”

Apt says Hill is the kind of player that doesn’t need constant instruction. She’s determined enough on her own to make herself better. Still, she accepts it and utilizes what she learns from each opportunity. Her desire to improve only makes those around her better.

“She just wants to get better all the time,” said Apt. “Whatever we want to do, she’s there. She listens, and she takes whatever she needs out of everything people tell her.”

It is a committment that Apt says runs through his entire team. In addition to Hill, the Raiders lose four other seniors – Ellen Head, Heather Tripp, Randall and Ramsay. It is a group that has challenged each other and lifted the program to new levels.

“They’re just special kids,” said Apt. “They always want to work. If it’s raining, they want to practice and they’re asking ‘Coach, are we going to practice?’ They want to be there and they want to be together. They want to learn the life’s lessons that we talk about other than softball. They’re just a neat group of kids.”

Hill has been the key ingredient and beneficiary of that common bond. Hill has pushed herself and striven for the heights of her sport but has pushed her team. The players around her have responded with similar dedication and an ability to make Hill better.

“As a little girl, I loved softball,” said Hill. “I loved playing with my team. I watched some of the high school games. I was like ‘I want to play in high school.’ When I was little I was like ‘I can’t wait to play in high school.’ Then as middle school came along, I was like ‘I want to go to college.’ I just kept setting that bar for myself. That helped make me work a little bit harder. There was always something to push for.”

C – Heather Tripp, Fryeburg, Sr.

1B – Kayla Cummings, Edward Little, Jr.

2B – Melissa Taylor, Buckfield, Jr.

SS – Kayla Merrill, Telstar, Soph.

3B – Whitney Mills, Telstar, Sr.

OF – Brylie Walker, Fryeburg, Jr.

OF – T. J. Cowin, Telstar, Jr.

OF – Alyssa Levesque, Edward Little, Sr.

P – Hannah Hill, Fryeburg, Sr.

P – Laura Getchell, Gray-New Gloucester, Jr.

P – Candace Hall, Telstar, Sr.

Second Team

C – Becca Roberts, Oak Hill, Sr.

1B – Erynne Landry, St. Dom’s, Sr.

2B – Emily Boivin, Jay, Sr.

SS – Mary Lewis, St. Dom’s, Sr.

3B – Netta Shank, Jay, Jr.

OF – LeAnn Abbott, Buckfield, Sr.

OF – Mary Caron, St. Dom’s, Fr.

OF – Rachel Fullerton, Mt. Abram, Sr.

P – Reen Kahl, Monmouth, Fr.

P – Kristy Jurczak, Oxford Hills, Sr.

P – Megan Gauger, Oxford Hills, Sr.


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