Hansen transforms from 'hidden gem' to bonafide star
Before the 2009 season, MSU softball head coach Jacquie Joseph was dealt a card she never had faced before: The first transfer in her 15 years as head coach.
Joseph lost her shortstop and was put in the position of having to figure out who would quarterback the infield.
Luckily for Joseph, she had found a hidden gem in the Florida panhandle.
MSU softball team vs. Northwestern
Time 3 p.m, 5:30 p.m.
Place Old College Field
Outlook The Spartans (18-21 overall, 4-6 Big Ten) host Northwestern (18-18, 4-5) in a midweek doubleheader.
Source: MSU Athletic Communications
Lindsey Hansen came to MSU from Valparaiso, Fla., intending to play third base, but with the departure of the starting shortstop, Hansen, then a sophomore, stepped in and didn’t miss a beat.
“I never questioned that Lindsey couldn’t do it,” Joseph said. “It just was a little bit out of position at first. Lindsey had played shortstop in high school and club ball but at the time I recruited her, I thought she’d play third base, maybe second because she has great range, but she has a gun of an arm.
“When we lost the kid, I knew that Lindsey would slide right in there; it’s just a question of maturing mentally to be able to handle the responsibility of shortstop.”
As a sophomore, Hansen started all 49 games and led the Spartans in doubles, triples, RBIs, home runs, runs scored and total bases.
Now a junior, Hansen has picked up where she left off. She leads the Big Ten in doubles (16), is second in total bases (92) and is fifth in hits (48).
“I’m just really staying focused and trying to see every ball that comes in,” Hansen said. “If I keep my eye on it as much as I can, putting it in play isn’t that tough for me.”
Coming to MSU wasn’t a hard decision for Hansen. A two-sport athlete at Niceville High School, Hansen only was recruited for softball by a few small southern schools.
“I thought Lindsey would have all the tools and I thought it was (great) to get her because no one knew about her,” Joseph said.
“She was kind of hidden in the panhandle. She didn’t get a lot of looks because of where her club team was from, but I was thrilled to get her and I thought she had a huge upside because of her physicality and the tools.”
Hansen is one of five Spartans from Florida and said coming to East Lansing to play for Joseph was an easy decision.
“I liked the campus. I like the surroundings and the coaches obviously make it fun and that’s the main deciding factor of why you want to go to a school,” Hansen said.
The biggest adjustment to MSU was the snowy winters that don’t exist in Florida.
“It was very, very cold,” Hansen said, joking about her first Michigan winter. “I didn’t even have a North Face jacket until I got up here. I was like, ‘I guess I need a big jacket like that to survive,’ so that’s when I got my first big warm jacket.”
Along with her development at the plate, Hansen has taken on more of a leadership role in the field.
“She is the person I look to to calm me down and inspire me because she always has good things to say and she definitely is the leader on the field,” senior pitcher and fellow Floridian Kelly Confer said.
With only one senior on the team, Confer said Hansen naturally took on more of a leadership role by playing shortstop.
“She’s definitely blossomed,” Confer said. “She’s turned into a mature athlete, as well as a person. Just being able to watch her grow and get better each year she’s been here, which has been a good thing to see because she’s definitely one heck of a ballplayer.”
Joseph said if the Spartans (18-21 overall, 4-6 Big Ten) are able to work their way into the top half of the Big Ten standings, Hansen should have a great chance to be named an All-American.
MSU hopes to rise in the standings Wednesday when it plays a doubleheader against Northwestern (18-18, 4-5) at Old College Field. The first game begins at 3 p.m.
“Lindsey has a great work ethic and has worked very hard at improving her game,” Joseph said. “Mentally, it takes a lot of maturity to be able to handle the pressure of leading your team in hitting and being a shortstop. It’s a lot of responsibility and the road at times has been rocky but it’s really starting to pay off for her now.”