Although the MSU softball team always is known for having a decent hitting team, senior shortstop Lindsey Hansen and junior catcher Brett Williams are going above and beyond.
Combining for 26 total home runs in 39 games this season — Hansen with 14 and Williams with 12 — the pair are the top home run tandem in the Big Ten. Hansen also ranks first in MSU program history in single-season home runs and in career home runs at 36.
“It shows that if you’re willing to put in the time, you will get better, and it will pay off,” head coach Jacquie Joseph said. “Don’t make the mistake in thinking that these kids are just genetically gifted and that’s it.
“Are they genetically gifted? Probably, but … it takes a lot of factors to be a great hitter, and these kids have really put in the time to perfect the craft.”
Leading the Spartans (21-18 overall, 3-7 Big Ten), Hansen maintains a .420 batting average and a .857 slugging percentage, while Williams is right behind her at .380 and .815, respectively, keeping them highly ranked.
Additionally, the duo currently sits third and fourth in the Big Ten in RBIs, with Williams at 47 and Hansen at 43.
“I’m just thinking that if they’re on (base), I’m going to try and hit them in,” Hansen said. “I’m going to do whatever I can to move the runners or to score them or to get myself in scoring position.”
Remaining consistent for MSU, junior outfielder Lori Padilla said she rarely sees both Hansen and Williams having an off day. The two compliment and balance each other out, so if one struggles, the other steps up.
“Usually when we have (Hansen) or (Williams) coming up, the entire dugout, everyone — their spirits are lifted, and they’re really holding on tight for something good to happen,” Padilla said. “They have a big role.”
Hansen and Williams sit third and fifth at the top of the batting order and are among a solid group of six leading off. Joseph said she’s relaxed when they step up to the plate, and she does everything possible to ensure they get their cuts.
“I have 100 percent confidence in that we’re going to have a quality at-bat and they’re going to get their licks,” she said. “There’s no doubt in my mind. Now it’s not going to happen every time, but it’s just I know we’re not going to get cheated.”
Hansen said she and Williams bring an adrenaline rush to the team and always are looking to jump-start the lineup. If just one gets a hit, the Spartans are able to build momentum off of it.
Both being right-handed batters, they also adjust themselves according to what kind of pitches the other receives.
“I definitely pay a lot of attention to (Hansen’s) at-bats because she’s our first righty before me,” Williams said. “Usually pitchers pitch differently to righties and lefties, so seeing (her) at-bats and seeing what they’re pitching to her (helps me).”
Padilla — who bats second — said Hansen and Williams like to step up in high-pressure situations, and they frequently find themselves at the plate with two outs or runners on base.
“Being right in front of (Hansen), my whole mindset is just to get on base and to be what we call a table-setter for her,” Padilla said. “(She) can do more damage when we have someone on base.”
Complementing each other, the Spartans said Williams is a vocal leader while she tries to carry the team. Hansen is known more for leading by example by putting in extra hours or making risky moves.
Hansen is fifth in the Big Ten in stolen bases with 15.
“She’s Barry Bonds minus the steroids, minus the cheating,” Joseph said. “Who hits that many home runs and steals that many bases? Who does that?”
Whether it’s at-bat or on the field, Joseph said the two have valuable leadership roles on the team, and they’re in the process of leaving their mark on the Spartan program.
“(Hansen’s) going to make me work hard to think how many players are better than Lindsey Hansen when she leaves here,” Joseph said. “There aren’t going to be that many … (and Williams) is right there, too.”
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