A dream seasonPublished 7:02pm Saturday, July 27, 2013
It started with a nightmare, but Haley Hutchins was able to turn this year into a dream season.
After sustaining a frayed labrum and a small tear in her rotator cuff in the fall the Washington sophomore leftfielder was able to recover just in time to play in the Pam Pack’s season opener and didn’t miss a beat as she led the team or ranked near the top of every offensive statistically category.
Batting in the two spot, Hutchins not only set the table but cleaned it off as she hit .487 with six doubles, five triples, four home runs and 28 RBIs to help guide the Pam Pack to 20-5 record and the fourth round of the NCHSAA 3-A playoffs.
“She had close to one of the highest batting averages I’ve ever had,” Washington’s sixth-year coach Doug Whitehead said. “She had an .865 slugging percentage, which I think Babe Ruth had a six-something for his career. I know that’s a career versus one season but if you look at the 36 hits she had 15 of them were extra-base hits.
“She led us in batting average, was second on the team in number of hits, first in walks (19) and had a .634 on-base percentage. Her 28 RBIs was second on the team and she was tied for first in most home runs.
“She ran away with it in triples. She had five and I only had one other player that had one. All in all she had a very productive year.”
That effort led Hutchins to be named the Washington Daily News Position Player of the Year.
It was a year that was almost in jeopardy after Hutchins sustained a shoulder injury that led to her having to go under the knife on Oct. 8. The expected recovery time was four months barring any setbacks, which was right around the time softball season was scheduled to start.
Hutchins, who was a WDN All-Area first-teamer as a freshman, said the injury may have been a blessing in disguise as it forced her to shift her preseason focus from pitching to hitting.
“When I was out with my shoulder surgery and doing physical therapy for my arm I was only able to bat,” Hutchins said. “So that was kind of a pivotal point where I spent a lot of time on repetition and trying to get my mechanics straight.”
Despite the extra work on the fundamentals, Hutchins said she began the season not really knowing what to expect.
“I didn’t really go into the year thinking I want so-and-so stats, I was just kind of going into it thinking, ‘I hope I really do well this season,’” Hutchins said. “And things just kind of fell into place.”
Hutchins also attributed her boost in stats to her work on rotational hitting and a more aggressive approach in the batter’s box.
“When I go up to bat I don’t think too much about how it’s all going to fall into place,” Hutchins said. “My mom (Pam Pack assistant coach Wendy Godley) always tells me to be aggressive because if you don’t swing at the first strike you’re going to be in a hole and then you’re not going to do well … When I went up there and started doing that I started to actually be more successful and I was kicking myself for not listening to her before then.”
On the base paths Hutchins was equally menacing as she was one of the team’s top base stealers.
“She’s got speed and she’s got power,” Whitehead said. “… She’s got excellent speed and excellent sliding skills and she’s an excellent base runner. It gets in a pitcher’s mind when you have a fast runner and that’s going to help your next batter.”