High-SchoolSoftball: Texas Impact Gold

Andrea Hawkins: Roll Tide

June, 11, 2012
Andrea Hawkins just finished her senior season at Bay City (Texas), and she also plays for Texas Impact Gold. The center fielder has signed to play at Alabama. She will blog for ESPNHS throughout the 2012 season.

Andrea Hawkins Texas Impact Gold
ESPNHSAndrea Hawkins
I just want to start off with a big Roll Tide Roll!

Ever since I was a child, I've always loved watching softball. During my freshman year, while I was visiting different colleges, Alabama really caught my attention -- I knew this college was something special.

Now everyone knows.

Ever since Alabama made it to the World Series, I could just picture the Tide winning the first SEC national championship. I came home every day that week and hopped on the couch ready to watch the games. When Alabama won the game that put it in the championship series, I knew I had to get together all my close friends to come over to watch with me. Even though I was away at freshman orientation in Alabama last Monday and Tuesday for the first two games, I still found a way to find a TV and watch the games with a lot of new friends I had just met.

The championship game was most exciting to me. I woke up Wednesday morning with the game on my mind. It felt like time was dragging! What made it even worse was the weather delay. All kinds of thoughts were going through my head. I wondered how the weather was going to impact the teams. Will they be pumped up? Since it was late, are they going to be tired? And then, finally, the game began.

My friend's dad invited my family over to eat and to watch the game. My emotions were all over the place. I sat on the edge of my seat the entire game. I would jump up and down and do a little dance every time a great play was made or Jackie Traina struck someone out.

Alabama made an amazing comeback in the fourth inning and it pumped me up even more. The only thing I was thinking was I hope I have the opportunity to experience this excitement next year.

In the seventh inning, my heart was racing. I didn't know what to think, but I had faith in my team. As soon as Jackie struck out the last batter, I jumped and screamed for joy!

It's such a blessing to know that I will be a part of such an amazing program. I can't wait to get back to Alabama in August to start this next chapter of my life.

Roll Tide!

Read the previous installment of Andrea’s blog – secrets of a slap hitter -- here.

Andrea Hawkins: Secrets of a slap hitter

May, 1, 2012
Andrea Hawkins is a senior center fielder for Bay City (Texas) and Texas Impact Gold. She has signed to play at Alabama. She will blog for ESPNHS throughout the 2012 season.

Andrea Hawkins Texas Impact Gold
ESPNHSAndrea Hawkins
Being versatile is a big plus in softball today. I am a slapper, and my objective is to put the ball in play. I start in the left-handed batter’s box, run toward the pitcher and make contact with the ball moving toward me. My goal is to hit the ball to the left side of the infield, utilize my speed to get on base and to put pressure on the defense.

Being able to read the defense allows me to determine if I am going to slap, bunt or swing away, and that keeps the defense guessing.

When I come up to bat, I usually show bunt the first pitch to see how the second baseman moves. I look to see how fast she gets to first base, or if she breaks early. The shortstop might even break to second base. If I see this, I know I can fake bunt, slap and get on first safely.

If I see the defense playing back close to the bases, I lay down a bunt and beat the throw to first base.

If the field is hard, I slap the ball into the ground to get a high bounce.

If the defense is playing in, I can pop it over the infielders' heads as a blooper shot.

A slapper's goal is to put the ball in play, get on base, then steal a base to get into scoring position and score on the next base hit.

When I come up to bat later in the game, the defense thinks I can't hit a long ball and they will be playing shallow. When you see this, feel free to swing away and drive the ball over their heads. They will not be expecting it. After they see you swing away, they will not know whether to play you shallow or deep.

All of this takes a lot of practice, a lot of discipline at the plate and getting to know how the defense works. But as you can tell, being a triple threat is a tremendous advantage. It keeps the defense guessing and increases your chances of getting on base.

Read the previous installment of Andrea’s blog -- on the importance of swagger -- here.

Andrea Hawkins: Bring swagger to the plate

March, 26, 2012
Andrea Hawkins is a senior center fielder for Bay City (Texas) and Texas Impact Gold. She has signed to play at Alabama. She will blog for ESPNHS throughout the 2012 season.

Andrea Hawkins Texas Impact Gold
ESPNHSAndrea Hawkins
Ever since my freshman year, I've adopted some pregame rituals. Before every game, I wear the same shirt while I am warming up. I usually stretch after the team does its normal warm-up routine, and the same person stretches me every time.

My at-bat ritual is also the same every time -- it gets me calm and focused. I do two dry swings and draw a cross right in front of the plate. Then I stare the pitcher right in her eyes. I walk up to the plate and OWN it. I want to be the one who is intimidating to everyone on the field.

You have to have swagger. This means you walk onto the field with 100 percent confidence, and nobody is going to break that. As a slap hitter, I always keep the defense on its toes because they never know what I am going to do -- slap, bunt or hit away.

Having pregame rituals will get you mentally prepared for each game.

Read the previous installment of Andrea’s blog – on setting preseason goals – here.

Andrea Hawkins: Start fresh, aim high

March, 12, 2012
Andrea Hawkins is a senior center fielder for Bay City (Texas) and Texas Impact Gold. She has signed to play at Alabama. This is her first blog post for ESPNHS.

Andrea Hawkins Texas Impact Gold
ESPNHSAndrea Hawkins
Last year's softball season was very interesting. I knew we were an awesome team, and it was unbelievable how close we became as a team, which helped us play as one. We worked very hard and put in lots of extra work. Our team ended up going three rounds in the playoffs and losing in the last inning by one run to the team that won the state championship. Talk about devastating!

So this year we know we are going to have to come out with a bang. We got lots of recognition for our previous accomplishments, so everyone is expecting a lot from us this year.

As a senior, I feel I have the responsibility of being a leader and setting an example for the younger players. When I work hard, it makes them work 10 times harder. We have a great group of girls this year who are willing to put in the work to get us to the playoffs.

My goals for the season are to get my batting average up to .800 and to have 50 stolen bases. These are very high goals, but I know I can do it.

My advice to younger players is to take advantage of your free time by getting some reps in hitting or fielding. High school softball can be a fun learning experience, so make sure you always come on the field with a purpose and determination. This is our motto this year because we are determined to make it farther than we did last year.