Hannah Beloved’s best game of the season was not her favorite game.
Beloved’s softball coach at Mead, Joel Shawen, and rival coach Joe Stanton both raved after Beloved pitched a three-hitter and struck out 11 in a 2-0 loss to Central Valley at last week’s District 8 4A title game.
But Beloved said her season highlight came the week before, when her sophomore sister, Tessa, just promoted from junior varsity, entered midway through a game against Rogers and served as Hannah’s catcher.
“It made my whole season,” Beloved said. … “Then she got up to bat and doubled. That was probably my best memory of the season.”
Beloved, a four-year starter, is entering her final days with the players she considers family. Beloved is expected to start when Mead (15-7) plays host Richland at noon Saturday in a loser-out game of the 4A regional at Columbia Playfield. District champ CV (16-3) will meet Walla Walla in a winner-to-state game at the same time and site.
Mead must win twice to advance to next weekend’s state tournament at Merkel Sports Complex in Spokane. The Panthers last played at state in 2005.
CV needs one win in two games for a return trip to state.
Beloved and sophomore Kylie Bremner have shared mound duties this spring for the Panthers. Both sport 7-3 records in league and postseason play.
“We complement each other very nicely and I love her to death,” Beloved said of Bremner. … “With both of us pitching, it’s the best combination we can do in order to win. … There’s not really that much of a difference besides a little different movement on the ball.”
Beloved started playing softball when she was 10 years old and always wanted to pitch. She credits longtime pitching coach Steve Fountain with helping her hone her craft, especially her top offering, a curveball on the outside corner.
“I always try to keep (batters) on their toes and keep them guessing,” Beloved said.
Beloved played the last two years with the Spokane Diamonds, but she plans to skip softball this summer for the first time in eight years. She has a part-time job as a waitress at Mamma Mia’s Ristorante & Pizzeria and just bought her first car, a Nissan Infiniti.
Beloved plans to attend Spokane Falls Community College in the fall and play for coach Janet Skaife’s Sasquatch next spring. Her goal after two years at SFCC is to transfer to Eastern Washington and study to become an elementary school teacher.
She gets her love for children from her mother, Patty, who cares for teachers’ kids out of the family home. Her dad, Don, teaches at Mead High and coaches freshman football. He was formerly the girls golf coach, but resigned three years ago so he could watch Hannah’s games.
The family’s surname raises some eyebrows from time to time, but Hannah has developed the perfect response.
“People ask me, ‘Is that really your last name?’ Yes it is. It’s a cool last name. I embraced it. I was born with it, so I might as well stick with it.”