Earlier this month, sophomore infielder Hannah Bach became the first Pittsburgh Panthers softball player that I met in-person. While I’ve done nearly a dozen Q&As with players and coaches over the last two years, having a chance to actually speak to someone was a nice change of pace. Even in text form, it’s evident how passionate the players are about their sport and the Pitt program.
So it wasn’t a surprise that Hannah conveyed the same sentiments as we spoke. What did standout was her desire to take a big step forward as a Panther next season.
It’s absolutely not unusual for a player to want to be on the field and in the lineup, they’re competitors after all. Still, it’s something as spectators that we often take for granted.
Given our conversation and Bach’s answers below, my guess is that she’ll be contributing in a major way sooner rather than later. Hannah is so much more than just a baserunner and she’s ready to prove that in 2020.
Q1: With this being your first summer as a collegiate player, what are you plans to expand your game before your sophomore season?
“With it being my first summer not playing travel ball, I have found myself with a lot of time to train and prepare for next season. Speed has always been my biggest asset and I have been dedicating time to improving my strength, jumps and sprints. My main goal for the summer though is to learn how to slap, with help from Coach J [Jillian Van Wagnen]. I believe this addition will really help my team and improve our gameplay in 2020.”
Q2: There’s definitely going to be a lot of change next season with eight seniors graduating, how do you see yourself fitting into the lineup?
“Losing eight seniors opens the door for the newcomers and allows returners to find the spot that suits them best. As a utility I am comfortable all over the diamond, but my role will be middle-infield. Even though I was recruited as a catcher, I am comfortable and confident at shortstop. On the offensive side, I have been working hard to advance my game past just bunting, and I’m hoping to come into the next season confident on both sides of the plate.”
Q3: Given your speed on the bags, as well as several other players, do you envision being able to bunt or slap more next season to put more pressure on opposing defenses?
“Yes! This side of the game has become so important in softball and I know we have plans to implement it in our gameplay. I believe we can capitalize on our team’s speed with more stolen bases and bunts. Personally, I want to lead the ACC in stolen bases. As I said before, Coach J has been working with me on slapping, as a way to utilize my speed even more.”
Q4: Do you have any plans to visit some of your teammates this summer? Do you guys stay in touch?
“I wish! We have girls from all over the country that I would LOVE to visit. The local girls still get together and some of us even have summer classes together! Our team is a family, so we can’t stand spending time apart.”