When a player is named to her conference’s all-rookie team as a freshman and follows that up with first team all-conference status as a sophomore, it’s hard to find room for improvement.
Terren Hall has done just that, however, while getting off to a fast start in her junior season with the University of Maine softball team.
While most of the Black Bears were adjusting to new positions, alternate spots in the lineup or different roles, the third baseman from Bucksport was Maine’s hottest hitter right out of the box.
“I came into the season really confident this year,” said Hall, who’s leading the team with a .404 batting average. “I worked all offseason on being really aggressive and going after a lot of first pitches.
“I feel as a hitter the first strike is always the best one because once they get ahead of you, they can control the situation better. I’m making them pitch to me.”
This weekend, Hall will be making the Binghamton University Bearcats pitch to her as Maine takes a 2-1 America East conference mark into a three-game, home-opening series at Kessock Field in Orono. The 13-20 Bears will play a 1 p.m. doubleheader Saturday and an 11 a.m. game on Sunday.
Hall leads the Bears — literally — into the series with a team-high seven home runs, 33 RBIs and a .670 slugging percentage. Not bad, considering the kinesiology and physical education major isn’t even trying to swing for the fences this season.
“Last year, she struggled a bit trying to hit for power at times, but she adjusted,” said Maine head coach Deb Smith. “She’s also improved mentally and definitely has a better mental approach at the plate, putting herself in more advantageous situations.”
As a result of her hitting approach and the job the hitters are doing in front of her, Hall is getting more good pitches to hit and opportunities to move runners along without feeling pressure to do it all herself.
“This year, being in the number 3 spot, I’m not expected to score them so much as getting on base and scoring,” Hall explained. “I’ve been working a lot on inside pitches and getting my hands around quicker. I got jammed inside a lot last year, but this year, I’m more powerful inside and getting around on them better.”
The daughter of longtime coach and UMaine assistant Terry Hall, Hall is no slouch when it comes to offseason work and conditioning.
“She has an inherent natural ability to understand the strategy and mental aspects of the game and I definitely see her getting into coaching someday,” said Smith. “Terren is the epitome of hard work. She worked her butt off this summer and fall.”
This past offseason, Hall focused on her overall quickness by improving her footwork, thereby increasing her range at third base, and increasing her hand speed, thereby increasing her bat speed as well.
Her steady improvement over the last 2½ seasons makes it difficult for Smith to highlight a specific strength.
“This is going to sound like a copout, but I think it’s her consistency that is her biggest strength,” Smith said. “Terren has improved every year in different areas because she has extremely high expectations.
“She’s improved so much, but still wants to be challenged and become better and better.”