“Being #softballstrong means never giving up no matter what it is. It could be a project in school, or an at bat in the final inning of the championship game…but no matter what, you stay tough, pull through, and be #softballstrong.”
Ringor: Tell us how you got started in softball!
Hayley: Well, I was 4 when I started. My dad was coaching my T-ball team and then I kind of just stuck with it from there.
R: Has your dad continued to coach you throughout your career?
H: No, just in the beginning. Once I switched to travel, he stopped.
R: When did it click that softball was the sport for you?
H: Probably when I first started playing. I really liked it from the start and wanted to keep playing it all the way through instead of other sports. I really enjoy baserunning and getting the catcher mad (laughs).
R: (Laughs) Are you fast?
H: Yeah, but I think I am more of a smart base runner than fast.
R: What team(s) do you play for?
H: I play for the Maryland Wagners. It’s 14U. I am 13.
R: So you are not in high school yet, but do you plan on continuing to play in high school?
H: Yeah, I hope to.
R: That’s awesome! We are rooting for you! What number do you wear?
H: 13, but the number I would like to have is 3.
R: What is the significance of 3?
H: Ever since I was little, I wanted to be 3. I got it and I stuck with it until I joined a team where someone already had it.
R: Hopefully you will get the chance to wear 3 again soon! What position(s) do you play?
H: I am a middle infielder and third, also a little bit of outfield.
R: Which one is your favorite?
H: I would say second base. My coach in 10U travel, my very first year, put me at second and I started liking it then.
R: Is there a position that you haven’t tried, that you would try and play if you got the chance?
H: Well, considering my height, I don’t think I would be a very good first baseman (laughs), but I am not sure.
R: In what ways do you encourage or uplift your teammates, other than by softball cheers?
H: Well, let’s say there is someone on deck, I will pull them aside and say, “You got this”… “Imagine yourself getting a hit”. Sometimes just one-on-one prepping, or like, screaming out “Here we go!”
R: That’s great! Now, let’s talk slumps. Everyone gets into one every now and then. How do you get out of one?
H: Well, it’s very hard sometimes, but I always try to stay positive. Let’s say it’s a hitting slump…I’m up to bat, I can’t be thinking how I got a bad hit last time or the last couple times…I gotta be imagining having a good hit every time.
R: Is there anybody, whether it’s a coach, parent, or teammate that you heavily rely on during slumps.
H: My hitting coach…I always talk to her about that stuff and she has helped me a lot. She can’t always make it to my games and stuff, but when I see her I always talk to her about it.
R: That is awesome that you have her to talk that out with!
H: Yeah, I also do fielding lessons with her too. Her name is Megan Smith, she went to JMU.
R: Tell Megan she is doing a great job! Which do you prefer, hitting and running bases, or playing defense?
H: I would probably say defense because I have always worked hard to be a good fielder and make it one of my sound places. I just love turning double plays or diving and getting somebody out.
R: What about your most impactful softball moment? Can you describe it?
H: Probably when I was in a very long slump, like almost a complete full spring season a few years ago… I had lost any will to be happy and that’s awful, but then I was up to bat one time and I got a really good hit. It kind of started the momentum again and towards the end of the season I got better. That was a big, impactful at-bat.
R: Wow! Momentum can change everything. How important do you think momentum is in the game of softball?
H: Very important! You gotta stay positive. People say hitting is contagious and if you start with one hit, it keeps going. For yourself, once you get a hit, you create the momentum by being positive and thinking, “Oh! I can do this again!”
R: What is one thing this off-season that you have been focusing on for this upcoming season?
H: Well, I have been working on getting stronger with my throw because I just started playing third base this year, so I want to get my arm strength up. For hitting, because I am not necessarily a power hitter and I am more for base hits and line drives, I want to work on getting the ball out there more. Because I feel like I have it in me.
R: How do you mentally and emotionally prepare for games?
H: Well, on the car ride there I definitely jam to my music really loud. I get pumped up! I make sure to stay focused on my warm up and not goof around. I already start thinking about the game and what I am going to do to be successful. I definitely visualize a lot.
R: What are some of the songs on your pump up playlist that you would recommend?
H: Well, I like “Who made who” by ACDC. “Lose yourself” by Eminem. “You can’t stop me” by Andy Mineo.
R: Are you thinking about playing in college?
H: Yes, I would like to play in college. I’m starting to look around a bit, but looking at both education and softball, because I can’t just base my decision on softball.
R: Absolutely! Do you know what you would like to study?
H: I want to major in Physics.
R: Wow! Why Physics?
H: Ever since second grade I have loved astronomy and space and I would study it on my own. We don’t really learn it in science now, but I want to be able to do it when I am older.
R: That sounds great! What would you say makes a great teammate and a great coach.
H: A great coach is someone who doesn’t sugarcoat. If they are straight up with me, I like that. I want them to tell me how I can get better, not just what I am doing wrong. For a great teammate, I like some who knows how to help their teammates when it’s tough. When I strike out, I am already telling myself to stay positive, so I don’t like all my teammates coming up to me telling me that everything is okay and it will get better. I just need a minute to myself to think about it. So teammates that understand that and how I operate, give me a little space, but then still encourage.
R: Are you looking for those qualities in your future college program?
H: Yes, I also want to have a relationship and bond with my coach. I would want someone that I can talk to about anything, not just softball.
R: What do you like to do for fun outside of softball?
H: I love to hang out with my friends. I like to run. I want to maybe do cross-country in high school and try it.
R: What is your favorite subject in school?
H: English! And it never used to be! I used to not like English at all, but my teacher, Miss Sheridan, changed it for me. She focuses more one-on-one with students and makes it more fun.
R: What is your favorite movie?
H: Field of Dreams!
R: That’s a great one!
H: Yeah, I love it when he is playing catch with his dad in the end.
R: Do you have any goals you want to accomplish in your lifetime?
H: I want to go to a D1 college and make varsity next year, but besides softball, I want to become a well-known physicist.
R: Softball wise, can you describe yourself in three words?
H: Tough. Independent. Smart
R: What about your everyday side of you?
H: Humorous. Kind. Crazy.
R: After your softball career is over, how do you want to be remembered?
H: I want to people to remember me not because of my skill, but me as whole. For how I carry a team. I want to be a leader on a team.
R: What are some aspects of a leader that you possess right now or would like to continue to develop?
H: The way I interact with my teammates…I make sure that we all get things done.
R: Who is your biggest supporter?
H: My dad and my hitting coach. My dad is not pushy, but always gives me good advice and he gives me my space. At the same time, though, he knows what I need to hear. My hitting coach and I have become really close over the years and she always helps me with softball and stuff.
R: Can you describe the lessons that you have learned in softball and how they have carried over into your everyday life?
H: Softball has taught me a lot about how to stay positive. Whenever something gets me down in life, I just imagine good things happening. It has helped me be focused in school and stay on top of everything.
R: What has been the biggest challenge you have had to overcome in softball so far?
H: The struggle was when I first started travel ball and I was a player who hadn’t done much. That might be a little broad, but I remember starting travel and I would be sitting all the time and I didn’t even know what I was doing, but I had to work hard and eventually I made it to where I am now.
R: Well, we are very proud of you! What advice would you give to younger players who might be going through that same struggle that you went through?
H: I would say, it doesn’t have to be big, but always work on softball everyday while you are younger. Pretty soon it will become habit and you will be working every day and you’ll get better.
R: What does being #softballstrong mean to you?
H: Being #softballstrong means never giving up no matter what it is. It could be a project in school, or an at bat in the final inning of the championship game…but no matter what, you stay tough, pull through, and be #softballstrong.
R: That is a great answer! What pair of Ringors do you wear right now?
H: I wear the Bandit! I like them a lot! They are lighter, which is great when I run the bases. I am normally heavy on my heels when I walk and even run sometimes, so they help me with quickness.
R: We love to hear it! Last question, would you like to give a shout out to anybody or say thank you?
H: I want to say thank you to my parents. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here. Thank you to all my coaches I’ve had over the years. All of them, in a little and big ways, have changed my life.