The Adairsville High School softball team improved from three wins in 2013, 10 wins in 2014 to 15 wins in 2015, including a state playoff appearance.
Senior Hannah Knapp was part of the turnaround for the Lady Tigers, and she was rewarded for her hard work over her career at Adairsville when she signed last week to play at Southern Alabama Community College.
“I really like the atmosphere and I liked the team,” Knapp said of her college decision. “I got to practice with them, and I really liked the coach. It’s a really small town like Adairsville, so it’s really not much of a change for me. They just made me feel so welcome.”
“I’m real excited,” Adairsville head coach Kandace Bruno said of Knapp’s signing. “It’s something that she’s talked abut since she got here. She worked hard and it’s really exciting to see all her hard work pay off.”
Knapp was recruited to Alabama Southern based on her performance during a camp over the summer. Knapp hit well during a scrimmage at the camp with Alabama Southern head coach Brooke Powell in attendance, leading to an offer.
“I really liked a school in Alabama called Montevallo. I went to a camp there in the beginning of August. That’s where coach Powell saw me. She contacted me a few weeks later and I went on a visit there after the high school season, and I just felt like it was God’s plan for me to go there,” Knapp said. “We were on little teams and we played games against each other. My first game, I went 3-for-3 and I had a few RBIs. I hit really well.”
Knapp also hit well in important situations during the high school season for the Lady Tigers. In the decisive Game 3 of Adairsville’s first-round playoff series at Franklin County, Knapp hit an important two-out, two-run double in the fourth inning to bring the Lady Tigers within one run. Knapp came around to score on the next at bat to tie the score. Adairsville would lose the game, but the team only lost by two runs in Game 3 to nearly upset a No. 1 seed in the state tournament.
While batting in the No. 2 spot in the Adairsville lineup, Knapp recorded at least one RBI in six consecutive region tournament and state playoff games.
“I think I was really excited,” Knapp said of her performance in the playoffs. “Coach Bruno and [assistant coach Danielle] Abernathy have done a lot for me, and the least I could have done was play my heart out for them and for my town, do the best I could do to help my team win.”
Reaching the state playoffs and nearly upsetting a No. 1 seed was a major development for Adairsville after the team went 3-19 in Knapp’s first year starting as a sophomore.
“My sophomore year, we didn’t have that great of a season. We had a losing season. To go from a losing season my sophomore year to going to the first round of state my senior year, that was a big accomplishment for us,” Knapp said. “It’s crazy to think there was only four upperclassmen [on the team in 2015]. I’m just glad to be a part of that.”
Bruno said Knapp played a key role in the program’s quick turnaround.
“She’s always really had an effect, whether it be at the plate, in the dugout or in the field,” Bruno said of Knapp. “She always filled the role that needed to be filled. It’s hard to find players like that that are willing to accept any role, whatever it is. She’s selfless and she wanted to win, and she was willing to do whatever it took to win.”
Knapp’s versatility also was important for the Lady Tigers. She played mostly in the outfield her first two years before filling in a need at third base her senior season.
“She came in as a freshman. We had some outfielders before her, but she worked hard and was a starter for us her sophomore, junior and senior years,” Bruno said of Knapp’s career. “She’s just a hard worker, a good kid to be around. She keeps you laughing and she actually was pretty pivotal for us this year because, when we were having some difficulties at some positions, she stepped up and filled the spot when needed. That was huge for us. She’s just a good kid all around.”
Knapp said she will play outfield for Alabama Southern, a NJCAA program and a member of the Alabama Community College Conference. The school is located in Monroeville, Alabama. Knapp hopes to eventually continue her career at a four-year institution after her two years at Alabama Southern.
She also is hoping to pursue a career in special education.
“I’m actually doing an internship at the elementary school and the middle school right now,” Knapp said. “At the elementary school, I work with a second-grade class. In the middle, I work with a seventh-grade class. It’s really shown me a lot, and I just love to work with kids. I want to be an elementary school special ed teacher. The teachers that I’ve worked with have shown me a lot and shown me that that’s really what I want to do.”