Hannah Granger makes impact at plate

Matt Greenstein

Last season, then-junior Hannah Granger had just 27 hits.

This season, the utility player has already surpassed that total with 30 in 22 games, and her increased role as a lineup regular has helped lead the team to an 18-4 start.

“She put together a good fall and put together a good winter,” head coach Jessica Allister said. “We were pretty sure [we were going to start her] before we got going. She’s made it impossible for me not to start her.”

Granger currently leads the team with a .508 batting average, and her new role has brought an increase in responsibility.

“No matter where you are on the field during games or during practice, you have a responsibility to the team to play your part,” Granger said. “I think knowing my part this year is more on the end of getting into the box and taking my hacks. I’m proud that I’m able to do that.”

The senior is glad her Minnesota teammates and coaches trusted her with a bigger role, but it didn’t come without work.

“She shows up every day ready to get better,” Allister said. “The biggest difference this year is that she’s been able to have a consistent approach in the box.”

Before this season, Granger said she lacked confidence in the batter’s box.

However, learning to trust herself has paid off.

“Knowing that I did all the work and I’m ready to be in the box and I’m ready to help out my team [is] more my mindset now. With every pitch, I have an opportunity to change the game for the better,” she said.

Coming into her final season at Minnesota, Granger was motivated to make it count.

“I think really it was just a sense of urgency this season [that helped me improve], knowing that it was my last season to be a part of this team and take us up another level,” Granger said.

Senior Kaitlyn Richardson and Granger have played together on the Gophers for four years, and Richardson said her teammate’s progression has been immeasurable.

“It’s pretty apparent that she’s made huge strides her four years here. She’s never stopped working hard. It’s easy to, if you’re not playing every game, to check out,” Richardson said. “She wanted to be a role player and wanted to be a key person on the field. Over the years, you could just see that she has been working on her swing. It’s great to see that it’s all paying off.”

The two seniors are tied for the team lead in hits and are the Gophers’ top two in runs batted in.

“She’s been a steady force in the middle of the lineup,” Allister said of Granger. “She’s come up with some big hits in some big situations, and she’s that player that really gives those players around her confidence.”

While Granger’s performance levels and confidence have fluctuated throughout her career, Richardson’s perception of her fellow senior never wavered.

“She’s always been [about] the team and [not about] herself,” Richardson said. “I think that’s been huge for the team, and I think that kind of changes everybody else’s mindset.”