By Nathan DiCamillo
“Hannah Gardner is maybe the most consistent player I have ever coached. She brings her best effort every day,” Head Softball Coach Ritchie Richardson said.
“She is not only one of the finest players to ever wear the uniform here at ONU but also one of the finest players in the history of the NAIA. She recently became the NAIA’s all-time leader in RBIs.”
With a background spotted with records and awards, senior softball player Hannah Gardner has kept the standard of excellence in her final year at ONU as she broke the NAIA RBI career record on March 13, according to ONU marketing.
Having “finished the 2013 season leading the team in most offensive statistical categories,” according to ONU marketing, Gardner is performing well with a team that already has over thirty wins this 2014 season and just two losses.
“This is a fun year because we have a lot of returning players. We are all matured. We all know our roles. We are really cohesive—we gel as a team. Everybody gets each other pumped up and we get rallying,” Gardner said.
“We just feed off each other. Everyone does their jobs and excels…It shows on the field.”
Gardner believes her team will also remain consistent in the future, even as she and four other seniors graduate this year.
“The juniors right now who will be seniors next year—they’re very strong. They’re very talented and keep getting better,” Gardner said. “Hopefully with that and good leadership the freshman will be developed quickly.
“We all had a rough time as a freshman. The upperclassmen get you into gear and show you how to do it.”
Gardner credits determination as her key to success. After getting through her freshman year, she learned to schedule herself.
Gardner credits her team’s success to her teammates’ talent and her coach’s knowledge.
“[Richardson] brings in really good athletes. They’re always very talented. His knowledge in the game just makes us that much smarter and better. With the combination of good talent and him, it’s a very good program,” Gardner said.
Gardner came to ONU because of Richardson’s competitiveness and his knowledge of softball.
“When I met him and took the tour, I knew we could have a winning team and that he could make me a better person and a better player,” Gardner said.
Despite her busy schedule, being at ONU helped Gardner to get “out of [her] shell,” finding the people at ONU to be “very kind.”
Gardner, who has played softball since she the age of 12, plans on going to grad school and coaching softball somewhere after ONU.