Jeannette pitcher looking to the future
Nicole Hall has a serious case of “senioritis.”
The Jeannette High School starting pitcher is ready for the next step and she started down that path this week by signing her letter of intent to play softball at Carlow University.
Hall has been playing softball since she was very young and has pitched a lot of that time. She intends to stay on the mound in college, but she will also play first base and will continue to be a hitter. That's something that's important to her, she would miss hitting too much if she became a pitching-only player.
“With hitting, something different can happen every time. Playing defense is OK, but scoring a run is something totally different,” said Hall.
This summer, Hall plans to take some time off —she's been playing on travel softball teams most of her life and decided to spend more time at home during her last summer before college.
It's the first time she won't play for coach Jimmy Hoffner and the Nitros team, but she needed to take a break before moving on to the next level.
“I'm leaving high school and going to college and I'd have a hard time missing my friends' graduation parties and getting ready for college (if I played travel ball this summer),” she said.
Hall plans to study nursing in the fall and, because it's such a demanding major, she briefly considered not playing softball at college. But she's going to give it a try and the school has given her a $12,000 academic scholarship and a $5,000 softball scholarship.
She is excited to attend Carlow because she will have the opportunity to job shadow at all of the Pittsburgh hospitals nearby. Hall said a lot of her family members are nurses and that got her interested in the career and lately she's been thinking more about becoming a nurse anesthetist.
It means she'll work for a year in critical care after college graduation and then return to Carlow to get a master's degree. She knows she's on the right path because she watched a full knee replacement while job shadowing and she loved it.
“It was really cool, I'm so excited.”
She has her fall schedule and is set for an August orientation and “I'm ready to be done. It's excitement for what's next. To be on my own and experience everything.”
In the meantime, she and her high school teammates doing really well —straight out of the gate the Lady Jays started the season undefeated in section play and sit atop the Section 3A standings.
“We're playing really well as a team,” said Hall. “All the girls can hit, not just the first five up to bat. Everyone in the lineup can hit.”
Zac Karas, the team's new head coach, previously held the assistant's position and is a math teacher at the high school, so he has some experience working with these girls. The truly new face this year is Erica Bartholow, who is in her first year as assistant coach and pitching coach who played for Gannon University.
“We work really well together,” Hall said. “It's nice to have a coach who played recently.”
The team of Karas and Bartholow, Hall said, is working out well.
“They're really good at talking to us and telling us what they want us to do,” she said.
Hall said the team gets along very well and everyone likes their coaches.
“We just mesh really well. If someone can fix something, everyone can talk about it. It's really open and it lets us give our opinions. It's just amazing we can all hit.”
Hall said it's been a great start to her final season in Jeannette and she wants to go out with a bang. She and Sarah Pitzer, another senior, are co-captains and are enjoying the role of helping the younger players.
Hall is also enjoying the last year of sort of being the “big fish in the small pond and to be able to finish the senior year with a winning team is so exciting. And it's with my closest friends. This is the way I pictured it.”
She is thankful for her parents, Roy and Patty Hall.
“My mom has been a motivator in my high school career and always pushed me. My dad pushes me to be a leader and a motivator, he's been a coach for 29 years and I always want to be like my dad,” she said.
“Thank you to my teammates, in my most important year of my life it's important to have a team you can lean on. And thank you to the coaches who take time out of their lies and have the heart for the game, which makes it nice, too.”
Kristie Linden is an editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-838-5154.