by Aaron Burns
When Lake Norman Charter catcher Hanna Hasker left Hopewell last year, she had no idea what to expect in terms of school or her softball career.
As it turns out, she’s found herself in the right place at the right time.
Knights coach Kyle Pierce made Hasker – a sophomore – a team captain early in the season, and she took advantage of the chance to become a vocal leader for Lake Norman Charter.
“I played varsity and JV ball at Hopewell, but I feel more bonded and close to the girls here,” Hasker said. “I like the small-school environment and I try to step up and help out however I can with the team.”
Heading into an April 25 game against Queen’s Grant Stallions, Hasker has done more than her part in the box score as well as in the dugout. Her 16 hits pace the Knights and her .485 batting average ranks second this spring. Her individual success is all relative to the team’s performance, she said. It also speaks to how well the team gels when they’re under pressure.
In the Knights’ third game of the season, a road game against East Lincoln, Hasker said she thought the team took a major step forward when she called for them to huddle – just like in a football game – behind the pitcher’s circle to discuss their strategy. With the team on the same page, Lake Norman Charter rebounded from a deficit in that game and won, 14-13.
“We were struggling with communication, and we had people come through, play together, and we came back to win,” Hasker said.
When asked what she tells her teammates when they huddle, she said she’s never harsh; just serious enough to get her point across, which is usually enough to get her teammates to meet whatever challenge they’re facing.
According to Pierce, having a star defensive catcher – who also can hit and play third base – for another two years is an encouraging sign for a program on the rise. Pierce said on April 25, the Knights were 9-2.
Hasker said the key to enjoying softball is finding equal ground between being serious and a leader, as well as having fun with the game. Whenever Hasker is at the plate at a Knights’ home game (they play at North Mecklenburg Park) she gets plenty of attention from fans and family members in the stands. She’s also not afraid to cop a smile when she hears her friends call out to her when she steps into the batter’s box. Laughing at a joke five seconds before she has a fastball coming at her clearly doesn’t faze Hasker in the least.
“It’s a game and you gotta’ have fun with it,” she said. “At the same time, you’ve got to have a balance of jokes and seriousness. Negativity doesn’t help anyone.”
Hasker – who has played softball since she was five on a co-ed tee-ball team – pointed out that her primary goal for the rest of the season is to not lose another game. Pierce said he doesn’t mind seeing Hasker on the field directing her teammates from behind the plate, or laughing as she walks up to the plate. Hasker knows when to turn it on, and when to loosen up.
“She has a great attitude about the game, and she brings a positive feeling to the team,” Pierce said.
“When it’s time to get serious, she does it.”