Hahnville alum Haydel inducted into Nicholls’ Hall of Fame

When Hahnville captured the Class 5A state softball championship in 2011, it was Hannah Haydel in the pitcher’s circle, striking out Denham Springs’ final batter to seal the victory.

Only one year earlier, Haydel allowed the tying and winning runs in the 2010 state championship game. In hindsight, that she bounced back would come as little surprise to anyone who has followed her pitching career – the Nicholls State alum proved to be as mentally tough a competitor as there is, and its that mental side of the game that she loved the most about her sport.

“I never had the height of the typical pitcher, but I had the mentality for it,” Haydel recalled of her early days in the circle. “I loved those one on one challenges, the mental battle between you and each batter, tuning out everything besides your coach, your team and what you needed to do out there.”

Her approach led her to find great success at the college level – she became the Southland Conference Pitcher of the Year in 2016, was the Colonels’ first 20-game winner since 1998 and earned numerous other honors and accolades.

Make that one more this month: Haydel was inducted into the Nicholls State Athletics Hall of Fame on Nov. 11, prior to Nicholls’ football game against Lamar.

It’s exciting – so many of my teammates from college, high school and even travel ball were texting me congratulations. It made me feel pretty special,” Haydel said. “Some of my old teammates from college were going to the game to cheer me on. You know with adult life, people lose touch, but then something like this happens and they’re right there for you again. It just tells you how much those days meant to all of us.”

Haydel was the ace of the Colonel softball pitching staff in her four seasons and helped turn around the program. She graduated ranking in the Top 10 of the program career lists with 51 wins, 392 strikeouts, five saves, and a 2.73 ERA.

After earning All-Southland honorable mention twice, Haydel emerged as the Southland’s top pitcher in her senior season, earning SLC Pitcher of the Year, All-Southland First Team, and NFCA All-Region. She was a four-time LSWA Pitcher of the Week, three-time SLC Pitcher of the Week, and was the first Colonel to win 20 games since 1998. She was also a standout in the classroom, garnering Southland All-Academic twice.

“Everything really started clicking in my junior and senior year,” said Haydel. “I felt very confident in what I was doing and was seasoned as a pitcher. I had so much support from my team that really helped out. Looking back, it really was a special time.”

Haydel said those relationships with her teammates are what she cherishes most, calling them lifelong bonds.

“From living with some of my teammates to having them in my wedding … it’s friendships I’ll keep forever,” Haydel said.

Of course, she also loved the competition.

“You’re reading the batter’s body language,” Haydel said. “You understand what your catcher is thinking, even if you’re not talking, and she can read me too. Those parts of the game are the biggest challenges, and it’s what really started to click for me in my last two years of playing.”

At Hahnville, Haydel was part of a run that saw the Tigers go to three consecutive state championship games.

It was a special time for the program fueled by an exceptional group of players under then-head coach Kenneth Vial.

“I think we all had the same goal in mind,” Haydel said. “We all played travel ball together and we had that same competitive mentality. A lot of us ended up going to play at the college level and I got to play against a lot of those former teammates.”

These were the times the former Tigers needed no scouting report.

“We grew up together and we knew each others’ quirks already,” she said. “It’s fun and challenging. You want to get ‘em and beat ‘em. There’s that competitive side of it, but it’s also great having them on the other side.”

Since her playing days, Haydel earned her master’s degree in speech pathology and currently works as a speech pathologist and rehab director.

She may no longer take the field, but her legacy as a Colonel is cemented.

“There were so many awesome experiences, things I’ll keep with me forever,” Haydel said.

 

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