Q&A: Spring Grove slugger reflects on 100 career hits
For the past three seasons, Spring Grove senior Hayley Norton has been among the best softball players in the YAIAA. Before her senior season, Norton changed her college commitment from University of Pittsburgh to St. Francis University.
Now, a more relaxed Norton has been swinging away and leading the Rockets to victories over Gettysburg and New Oxford. In the win over the Colonials, Norton reached the 100 career hits plateau that she had her sights set on before the season started. She wasn't nervous about the at bat, she said, but she did take some advice from her father before stepping up to the plate.
Oh, and there was a celebratory cookie cake afterward.
Norton recently spoke with GameTimePA.com, reflecting on her career milestone.
Q So, how did the big hit happen? Was it a bloop single? A deep home run? Double to the gap?
A It was a line drive double right over the third baseman's head.
Q Once you got to 99 hits, did you start getting nervous when you walked up to the plate?
A No, I wasn't nervous at all. Every time I get into the box I forget everything, and I only want to hit. It didn't dawn on me that I got my 100th until I was standing on second. Then I made a 100 with my hands and started laughing with my teammates.
Q What was going through your head in that at bat?
A My dad came up to me before that at bat and told me I needed to keep my hands up and back more. I had them so close to my midline that I wasn't getting any separation and that's why I was hitting soft ground balls. So I was just thinking about keeping my hands back and tight. The ball jumped off the bat after that.
Q I heard there was a cake? Where'd that come from?
A (Laughter) It was a cookie cake. My teammate and her mom had them done and they surprised me on the bus with them. I was so happy and I had no clue they did this. They were colored like softballs, and had red laces and everything. One said, "Congratulations on the 100 Hayley!" It was awesome.
Q Is there one specific hit among the 100 in your career that really stands out in your mind?
A Of course. It was April 20, 2012. It was my freshman year and we were on Dallastown's field. They don't have a fence there. There's just a long field that drops into a parking lot 300 feet away. I think it was my first or second at bat, but I was facing Kelsey Collins and she threw a meatball right down the middle. I saw it and I hit it. What happened is called a 'blackout swing.' Everything worked perfectly together and my mechanics were sound. I didn't even feel the ball leave my bat. But that ball sailed. I mean it went all the way over that hill and into the parking lot. I've never hit a ball that far and I haven't still to this day.
Q Now that you've reached this milestone, what's the next goal?
A Just to have fun with my team and continue to see how many hits I'm able to get. I want to keep winning and possibly take a division title.
Q Favorite field/park in the league to play in?
A Is it cliche to say ours? Although I hate how the sun sets right in our faces, there's no place like home. I'm so used to our field and I absolutely love it. There are so many memories on that field.
Q Who is the toughest pitcher in the league to hit against?
A Last year it was my good friend, 'TR' (Taylor Rohrbaugh). However, I'm not so sure this year. Many senior pitchers graduated and we haven't played a lot of teams yet. I'm just excited to compete against Dallastown and their pitcher, Jaelynn Harbold. I joined a new travel team and that's where most of them are.
Q What's your favorite pitch to see when you're standing at the plate?
A I love any pitch that I think I can get my hands on and let it fly. However, if I had to choose, I'd say one that is middle-out or middle-high. I love the ones I can keep my hands above.
Q How much more relaxed have you been on the field this year after switching college commitments?
A I have been so much more relaxed. There isn't the pressure that I felt before. I feel like I'm more relaxed and happy. I love it. I absolutely cannot wait to start my college career at Saint Francis.