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Hackerd makes immediate impact for Panthers

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HACKERD: Former Frankfort High School standout Carson Hackerd batted over .300 for the Panthers in her freshman season at Ohio Dominican.
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FITTING IN: Ohio Dominican freshman Carson Hackerd throws the ball in from foul territory in left field. Hackerd filled a need in the outfield and as a left-handed batter in the Panthers’ lineup.
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FRESHMAN YEAR: Carson Hackerd played in 44 games as a freshman and made immediate contributions despite batting nagging injuries.

By AARON KENNEDY - akennedy@ftimes.com

A former standout softball player at Frankfort High School, Carson Hackerd provided the Division II Ohio Dominican Panthers a boost as a freshman at the private college located in Columbus, Ohio.

Despite being limited by a nagging finger injury, Hackerd batted .308 with nine doubles, 20 RBIs, 19 runs scored and five stolen bases in 44 games and 125 plate appearances. Meanwhile, she had a .976 fielding average with just one error all season while playing mainly in the outfield.

Perhaps Hackerd’s best softball was played when she batted .317 through 24 games in April. In the Great Midwest Athletic Conference Tournament, Hackerd has two hits in each of the Panthers’ first four games and finished the tournament with a .500 average (8-for-16) with five RBIs through five games.

“I don’t know what it was that clicked,” Hackerd said of her late-season streak. “Coach preaches timely hits all season. I think my big thing was getting on base any way I can.

“We went into extra innings in each game of the tournament. In the first game, I came up with two outs and a runner on second base. I typically would never swing at the first pitch, but I did it and pulled it down the first base line and tied the game for us to take it into extra innings. That was a definitely a confidence booster.”

Ohio Dominican head softball coach Marcella Vanlandingham was pleased with what Hacked was able to bring to the table in her first season with the Panthers.

“I think the biggest thing she brought was her experience and competiveness,” Vanlandingham said. “She did everything we hoped for her to do as a freshman. She came in and filled a void we had in the outfield and brought a good left-handed bat to our lineup. I see her continually improving and getting better. She will have more significant contributions in her future.

“As a freshman, she gave us a person who could put the ball in play consistently and make plays consistently on defense,” Vanlandingham added.

“She had a good year, overall, and this experience will just make her a better player.”

Hackerd missed 12 of 56 total games this year due to a finger injury suffered in a win versus the University of Indianapolis and, when she came back, she had to play the remainder of the season with a splint on her finger.

“I broke my finger on my glove hand going for a ball, so I decided to play the waiting game and let the break heal until it was stable,” Hackerd said. “I drove home a couple times for different opinions, but I had to wait it out. I was eventually able to play and figured things out.

“I had surgery a week-and-a-half after I got home,” she added. “I went to the doctor the day after I went home. I am almost two months out, which is exciting. Therapy is going welly well.”

Coach Vanlandingham was impressed with how much Hackerd was able to contribute despite the broken index finger.

“She was a little bit stymied this year because of some injures she had to battle through,” Vanlandingham said. “She was never 100 percent healthy. Once she is 100 percent healthy, she will really develop. Even injured, she was able to produce and fill voids that had filled this year. She is a competitor and knows the game very well. Those are all things you like to see in freshmen.

“She has tremendous upside,” she added. “Her best softball is still ahead of her. We are looking forward to the next three years. She will definitely develop and get better as we go.”

The Panthers finished their season 35-21 overall and 18-6 in the GMAC.

“We took a big step in the right direction,” Hackerd said. “We did go in a 19-game win streak which made school history. We had strong pitchers, and our bats really came through when they needed to.”

Hackerd says she is really excited about her sophomore year – and playing healthy.

“Especially since I know that I am capable of doing once I am 100 percent,” she said. “I am excited to see what I can do at the plate. We did lose some speed in middle infield, but we have girls who will step up. We didn’t lose pitching, so we are excited about that.”