Athlete of the Week: Hansis has Lady Chiefs in title hunt

nmbsoft-hansisThere’s a new attitude on the North Myrtle Beach High softball team, and much of it stems from starting pitcher Taylor Hansis.

The junior righthander has helped the Lady Chiefs to a 13-1 record and first place in the Region 7-3A standings, a position they haven’t found themselves in for nearly a decade.

Not coincidentally, that’s about the same time Hansis and many of her Lady Chief teammates were starting to throw the ball around on the local rec diamond. Now it’s their time to shine.

“I’ve been playing (varsity) since the seventh grade and we haven’t been in first place in a long time,” said Hansis, who was voted the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week. “Our team gets along so well. We’ve got great chemistry and we’ve been playing together for a long time in (rec and) travel ball. I think we’re finally just coming together.”

Hansis prefers to spread the praise around to her teammates, but her pitching has made their jobs much easier. Sporting a 0.70 ERA, the Lady Chiefs often need only to score one or two runs to get a win. Second-year coach James Graves has made a big difference too. “He believes in us,” Hansis said.

That’s exactly what the Lady Chiefs needed when Graves took over the program last year. He was struck by the amount of talent on the team, especially his ace pitcher, but noticed a lack of expectations that had prevented the program from accomplishing bigger and better things.

“I told them, ‘We have been playing well enough to stay in every game, now we need to finish,’ ” Graves said. “We need to act like we’ve been there before, and we are now. As long as they keep playing with confidence and the kids keep working hard, good things are going to happen.”

And they already have. The Lady Chiefs claimed two key region wins last week over St. James and Socastee – two teams that have dominated the league in recent years. Hansis also pitched a four-hitter to shutout Georgetown 1-0 and keep NMB a perfect 5-0 in region play.

“Taylor is such a good kid, smart academically and just as sweet as she can be,” Graves said. “As good as she is as a pitcher, she’s probably a better person. Even though she’s just a junior she is one of our leaders and all the girls look up to her.  As a coach, that’s the kind of kids you want on your team.”

Although Hansis is getting a lot of individual attention, she just wants  to help her team win.

“We’ve been to the playoffs in the past but we haven’t won the region so that’s definitely one of our goals,” she said. “We want to go as far as we can in the playoffs and hopefully win state before I leave. I still have one more year but I want to do it this season with this team. I believe we can do it.”

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