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Every time Hannah Coulter steps into the pitcher’s circle, she gets that same jolt of adrenaline, the kind that lets her know that she is just where she needs to be.
It’s what she wanted to do ever since she was little. She took her first pitching lesson at the age of 9.
“I’ve just always wanted to pitch,” Hannah said. “I like the aspect that you always have the ball. I lose focus pretty easily, so I would be lost if I wasn’t involved as much as I am.”
All of her hard work paid off at a young age. By the time she was in sixth grade, she was playing softball for the Washington County Commanderettes. The next year she was pitching for the varsity team.
By eighth grade, Hannah had already maintained control as the team’s main pitcher.
Her head coach — and father — Paul Coulter estimates that she has pitched “all but a dozen or so games” in the past five years.
“The team is really going to miss her pitching next season,” Paul said.
Hannah was born and raised in Washington County and liked the community’s close-knit bond. She also felt that attitude leaked over into softball.
“Growing up, I just always liked how it was a team sport,” she said. “If you messed up, somebody’s there to pick you up. You’re all there together.”
That mentality hasn’t changed for Hannah in her high school career.
And, having played on the team for so long, she was already a veteran on the team by the time she was in 10th grade, according to Paul.
“She’s been a leader on this team for the past three seasons,” he said.
Hannah feels that her leadership abilities blossomed during her senior season, though.
“In the past, there really hasn’t been a lot of leadership,” she said. “This year, we’re really close as a team, and we’re all a lot alike. That helps us out on the field.”
However, this past fall, the start to Hannah’s senior season looked in jeopardy.
After having shoulder surgery in October to repair a bicep tendon, she went through therapy all offseason long to make sure she didn’t miss the beginning of her final year at WC.
“I had three months of physical therapy, and that was kind of tough,” she said. “My doctor always told me that I would always be able to play. I was really more worried that I wouldn’t be able to pitch or be able to pitch the way I could before the surgery.”
While she was able to make it back by the opening game, her fears had come true to some extent. She wasn’t the same pitcher.
“I’m still not back to where I was,” Hannah said. “My fastball isn’t as fast, my dropball isn’t as accurate as it used to be, but I can still pitch and I started on time. I’m happy with that.”
Paul has been one of her biggest supporters throughout the process, both on and off the field.
“She’s done very well,” he said. “I’m really proud of how hard she has worked to come back.”
With graduation only a few days away, Hannah’s plans after WCHS are set. She’ll be attending Eastern Kentucky University in the fall in hopes of becoming a preschool and/or special education teacher.
“I love young kids,” she said. “I have patience for them, a lot more than I do for older kids. I couldn’t be a middle school teacher or a high school teacher. I would go insane.”
Next year, with Hannah gone, WC will miss their primary starting pitcher from the past five years.
But that will be especially true for Paul, for reasons that go beyond softball.
“It’s just been a real blessing to be there with her while she was playing,” he said. “I love sports, and she just happened to love softball. It’s something the two of us can do together. She’s the main reason I’m coaching varsity right now.”