Hull Named Schutt Sports/NFCA National Player of the Year, First in Program History
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Freshman Hanna Hull continues to break records and make history in her first campaign, earning Schutt Sports/NFCA National Player of the Year honors on Friday morning.
Earlier this week at OGE Energy Field at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, the Chesterfield, Va., native earned NCAA Championship Most Outstanding Player honors for leading the (54-3) Marlins to their first Division III softball national championship.
Hull reset most of the school and conference record books this season with an impressive 32-3 season, which save her post an ERA of 0.51, while striking out 372 batters and registering five saves.
Hull broke the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) record for ERA in a season, previously held by Roanoke's Erin Smith who recorded a 0.53 mark in 2002. She also topped the win mark held by another Roanoke pitcher, Kelly Higbie. The Maroon hurler won 30 games in 2012.
Hanna completely obliterated the ODAC single-season strikeout record, previously held by Virginia Wesleyan's Brittaney Brown who whiffed 218 batters in 210. Hull sits only 209 strikeouts away from the all-time career mark of 581 held by Brown with three years still to play.
Hull also pitched 16 shutouts on the year, well beyond the previous ODAC record of nine set by Lisa Rhodes of Bridgewater College in 2007.
Her five saves also tie her with four other players, including VWU's Mary Shipp in 2014, for the single-season league mark in that category as well.
Hull set school marks for season ERA and strikeouts, and had a program-best 19 strikeouts in a two-hitter against Bridgewater on April 22. In 41 appearances (32 starts), she tallied nine three-hitters, nine two-hitters, five one-hitters and no-hit William Peace on March 7.
"I'm unbelievably proud of this young woman," Virginia Wesleyan head coach Brandon Elliott said. "Not because of all the accolades, but because of the humility and grace she possesses."
"She's a tireless worker, unselfish, a perfectionist, a competitor and the ultimate teammate. We knew she had God-given ability and talent, but she became successful at the highest level of our game because of her trust in the process and the extraordinary efforts and knowledge from Jim Inzana, our pitching coach. Her maturity is also a direct reflection of Kasey Newcomb, our senior in the bullpen and the drive of Alana Peters and Courtney Wright alongside her. We talk about outloving each other and there is no better example than that in our bullpen under Coach Inzana's leadership."
"Her strength lies within her humility and genuine love for pitching," Inzana added. "She is a consummate professional in every aspect and a joy to work with."
Hull pitched her best on the national stage, throwing seven shutouts in the NCAA Tournament. She only allowed runs in one of her 11 appearances, a loss to 2016 national champion, Texas-Tyler. For the tournament, she went 8-1 with a 0.44 ERA while striking out 97 batters in 63 innings.
Hull received first team NFCA All-America and Schutt Sports/NFCA Division III National Freshman of the Year honors at last Wednesday's NCAA Championship Banquet. Her 6-0 victory over Illinois Wesleyan last Saturday at the NCAA Championship set a record for most wins by an Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) pitcher in a season and made the Marlins the first ODAC school with a 50-win campaign.
In addition to her NCAA Championship honor, Hull was selected as the Most Outstanding Player of the ODAC Tournament, the NCAA Regional and NCAA Super Regional. She previously was honored as the ODAC Pitcher and Rookie of the Year, and was a three-time recipient of the Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division III National Pitcher of the Week award this season (March 1, March 8 and April 12).
Of the 10 finalists for this year's Schutt Sports/NFCA Division III National Player of the Year, nine were selected as first team NFCA All-Americans, with Texas Lutheran pitcher Maitlin Raycroft registering second team All-America status behind first team selections Hull and Lindsey Thayer of NCAA runner-up St. John Fisher. The other seven finalists were Hull's Virginia Wesleyan teammate Cassetty Howerin, a junior first baseman, Salisbury junior outfielder LeAnne Collins, East Texas Baptist sophomore second baseman Linzie Lewis, Averett senior infielder Jessica Long, Texas-Tyler senior outfielder Kaylee Prather, Kean senior infielder Emily Sabo and Luther junior shortstop Anna Strien.
Howerin, Long and Thayer were all in the initial watch list group of 50 at the start of the season and remained on the list through cuts to 25 and 10 finalists, respectively. The list was a collaborative effort between the NFCA's All-America Committee and Division III head coaches.
University of Texas at Tyler pitcher Kelsie Batten was the inaugural winner of the Schutt Sports/NFCA Division III National Player of the Year award last season, after earning her fourth-straight NFCA All-America honor and recording 118 career wins, just four short of the all-time Division III record of 124 posted by Coast Guard's Hayley Feindel from 2009-12.