Every member of University’s softball team looks forward to spending this weekend in Lacey, but Hannah Wesselman has an extra reason to embrace the road trip.
Wesselman, U-Hi’s senior first baseman, will be playing in the city of her future college, Saint Martin’s University. Saints softball coach Rick Noren plans to be in attendance.
“(Noren) seems pretty interested, for the most part,” Wesselman said of her prospects to play for the Saints. “I think I have a good shot if I keep my swings going and keep my batting average up.”
The Titans (18-6) will open the State 3A tournament at noon today against Meadowdale, in a rematch of last year’s game for third and fourth places that Meadowdale won 7-2.
The Greater Spokane League’s other state entrant, Shadle Park (16-9), opens at 9 a.m. against Mountain View of Vancouver.
U-Hi qualified for state by besting Shadle 12-3 at Saturday’s 3A regional. Wesselman homered to dead-center field to give the Titans a 6-0 lead in the third inning, and added a shot to left-center to lead off the seventh. She also went 2 for 4 in the title game, won by Kamiakin 12-11 with three runs in the bottom of the seventh.
The regional power show was reminiscent of last year, when Wesselman hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh to give the Titans a 3-0 win over Kamiakin in the title game.
“They were both personal victories for me,” Wesselman said. “Last year was more exciting, but they both helped get the team going.”
Wesselman’s sister Hailey also played for Titans coach Jon Schuh before playing at Franciscan (Ohio) University.
“Both had wonderful senior years,” Schuh said. “Hannah’s sister had one of the best state tournaments we’ve ever had any kid have. I think she was like 14 for 16, just incredible. I said to Hannah, ‘I don’t want to put any pressure on you …’ ”
Wesselman, a two-year varsity member, was U-Hi’s designated player last year before taking over at first base while Alex Douglas recovered from an injury. Douglas became the Titans’ pitcher this year, opening up first base for Wesselman.
“I’ve always played first base, so it was just kind of getting back into it,” Wesselman said.
“The thing with Hannah is she’s been Steady Eddie all the way through the season, probably more than anybody else,” Schuh said. “She’s been pretty consistent all the way through. It’s kind of a testament to how she is. She doesn’t ride the roller coaster, doesn’t have too many ups, too many downs.”
Wesselman had a chance to play at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon, but the community and academics at Saint Martin’s won her over. Once interested in pharmacology, she’s leaning toward education after working on a senior project that focused on teaching biology.
This summer, she’ll work for the Spokane Indians and play some pickup softball to prepare for the Saints’ camp in July.
The Titans’ other seniors are shortstop Taylor Morales, a four-year varsity player who also homered against Shadle at the regional, and catcher Lacey Awbery, three years on varsity.
“You’d think after 15 or 16 years of saying goodbye to kids that it would be easier or you’d be callous to the situation, but I’m not,” Schuh said. “It’s always hard. I dread when I know we’ve played our last game.”