I am out there to win’

On the field, sophomore utility player Mandy Hill is an outstanding talent for the Viking softball team. She is a versatile player that teases hitters with her amazing array of pitches and dominates opposing pitching with her ability to consistently drive the ball out of the park with authority. Her four home runs and 20 RBIs this season illustrate that between the white lines she is certainly all business. However, once she is off the field she is just like any college student.

“Off the field I am loud, outgoing and funny, but on the field I have my game face on and I am serious,” Hill said. “There is no messing around because I am out there to win. I have played like this ever since I was a kid.”

The life of a college softball player is demanding considering the number of hours spent practicing, preparing for opponents and traveling all over the country for tournaments almost every weekend. So, while it may be difficult to fit other activities into this grueling schedule this softball star does it with ease.

“When I am not playing softball I am usually hanging out with my roommate or catcher Jennie Shollenberger,” Hill said. “Jennie and I hang out all the time and we usually go shopping. Shopping is a main thing but we also go out to movies and dinner a lot. I also try to fit homework in there too but it is tough.”

While softball may be her present focus, Hill has a game plan that does not involve a bat or ball for her future after college.

“My major is criminal justice, so I hoping to end up being a criminal investigator or detective, but I am not really sure,” Hill said. “I’m really not into the blood and gory stuff but I want to figure out who did it. It is also like sports because if you figure out who did it you win.”

She may have her future planed and her present is obviously set, but one event in her past almost made her current situation as a collegiate softball player seemingly impossible.

“I started playing softball when I was five years old and I haven’t had a minute off since. I was always a pitcher and played first base,” Hill said. “I broke both bones in my leg playing soccer right before softball season started, so I missed half the season and I couldn’t do anything with my leg. I didn’t think that I was going to be able to come back at all.”

This injury occurred when she was 14, but she battled back by training hard so that she could play the game that she loves.

“I had to work out my arms and my other leg. I had to put a lot of work into it and I didn’t know if it was going to be worth it, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to handle it. That was a huge thing I had to overcome.”

It took many hours of hard work and dedication to battle back from the broken leg that cost her half a season of softball and potentially longer, but Hill put in the work and soon returned to her dominate form. She also received a boost from her parents through positive influence during the healing process, just as they had throughout her life.

“My mom and dad were both my softball coaches and they really have a great influence on my life. They made me who I am and made me go out and work for what I wanted,” Hill said. “My dad caught for me, so he would always give me tips. I still look to him now during games if I am struggling because he knows everything about my pitches and he has been working with me from day one.”

Another key to recuperating from her leg injury was working out with a familiar former coach, which just so happened to be her father.

“My dad made me train harder, he just wouldn’t let me give up. We just went out and practiced all the time,” Hill said. “I would pitch off of my knee and I would have one knee down and the other on a bucket so that I could still try to hit. There was no rest. I had to keep on working.”

It is apparent that Hill has completely recovered from the injury that struck prior to her high school years, as she has now established herself as a force on the field at the collegiate ranks. It looks as though she is reaping the benefits of all of her hard work when she was younger.

While many witness her on field antics, striking out the side or smashing a grand slam, and assume that is her only contribution to the team, Hill feels that she brings a different facet to her team.

“I would say that I am there for someone to talk to and go to. If someone is having a hard time I am there to make them smile or laugh, pretty much as a stress reliever,” Hill said. “When I am on the field I am there to show people that this is the game now and we need to focus because I am out there to win. I am there if they need me.”

So far this season Hill has definitely been there for her teammates on the field. She is performing well on the mound with a 1.83 ERA and 73 strikeouts already this season and she is abusing opposing pitchers with her ability to hit for average and power. She is truly a multidimensional talent on the field, but that is a given.

Her most significant contribution to her team may be her ability to abruptly change her mentality from her cheerful off the field personality to her determined to win attitude on the field. This way the Vikings get the best of both worlds, while opposing teams have to face her desire to win from the plate and the mound.