Senior Spotlight: Catcher Hannah Christner was a hit for Yough softball

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Friday, May 29, 2020 | 11:01 AM


Editor’s note: Each day, Trib HSSN will spotlight WPIAL spring athletes whose senior years were cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.

Softball teams coached by Art “Dutch” Harvey are expected to bring air-tight defense to the field every game.

Harvey, the coach at Yough, expects nothing less than error-free play.

So when Hannah Christner was called upon to enter a game during her freshman season, she became a little frazzled.

“I was terrified of Dutch and to play on the field,” said Christner, a catcher.

But it’s not what the now-senior did or didn’t do on the field that mattered that day against Elizabeth Forward. The magic happened when she picked up a bat.

“I was sitting on the bench watching the game when Dutch called time and called me out to hit for one of my former teammates,” Christner said. “I don’t think I have ever got ready and ran on the field so fast in my entire life.”

The plot thickened.

“Dutch grabbed my mask and told me to hit it over the fence,” Christner said. “No later than he said that, I crushed the first pitch over and my heart was racing the entire time.”

That is one of lasting memories Christner will take with her as she departs the Cougars program, sans a final season that was scratched away by covid-19.

Christner, who does not plan to play softball in college, would have been the only four-year starter for this senior class at Yough. She batted .340 last season with 11 RBIs and nine runs scored.

How have you been dealing with not having a final softball season?

It’s disappointing to not get my senior year, but I try to just focus on all that lies ahead for me.

What makes a good catcher?

The will to be the best. You have to give all of your time and devotion to training on and off the clock.

What will you tell your kids about living in the coronavirus era?

Never take anything for granted because it can all change in the snap of your fingers.

Why do you wear No. 11?

When I was younger I played baseball, and my number was always 1, but when I started playing softball that number was always taken so I chose number 11 because that’s double the ones — double the player I was going to be. I wanted to be No. 1 in everything I did.

Is Cougar Mountain really a mountain?

No, it’s not really a mountain, but it sure does feel like one when you’re climbing it with a bag of catcher’s gear.

Who is the best pitcher you have caught?

Kierra Waywood (of Yough).

Who is the toughest pitcher you have hit against?

Definitely (Belle Vernon’s) Bailey Parshall.

Were you looking forward to playing for coach Dutch Harvey again?

Yes … I was happy to hear it when he decided to come back and coach. Dutch is one of best coaches I’ve played for in my softball career.

Have you ever done a bat flip after a home run?

No, but I have popped the chain a couple times.

What is the best flavor of sunflower seeds?

Ranch, by far.

Could you envision what it would be like to play in front of no fans?

Yes, I could see it. There would be no distractions.

Who has the best pizza in Herminie?

J-Jay’s Pizza would be my No. 1 pick.

Favorite breakfast cereal?

Cheerios. I don’t eat sugar cereals because I’m already too sweet.

What is the best between-innings song to warm up to?

“Beast Mode.”

Were you planning to go to any concerts this summer?

No, concerts aren’t really my thing.

Favorite quarantine meal?

Potato soup is my favorite food by a long shot. I would eat it every day of quarantine if I could.

Are you related to anyone famous?

No, but they wish they could be lucky enough to be related to me.

Do you have any secret or unique talents or hobbies?

I like to paint in my free time.

Do you play other sports?

No, softball is a full-time job.

What would you do with $1 million?

Buy a Lamborghini.

Who is the most inspirational person in your life?

I can’t just pick one. Both of my parents are very inspirational. My dad has worked harder than anyone I know to give me the best life I could ever have, and my mother is very talented. I hope to one day be just as amazing as both of them.

You are not going to play college softball?

No, I am going to focus on my career in the hospital.

Any interesting stories about anything that has happened in your life?

My life was pretty much all softball, and my best memories and stories are all based around the people who have made me the person I am today. I just want to thank Dutch for being a amazing coach and my parents for always taking me from game to game. I would also like to thank every girl that I have had the privilege to call my teammate.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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