Tape-measure homer shows Hampton softball slugger’s eye-popping power

Saturday, May 8, 2021 | 9:01 AM

Hampton’s Hannah Bradfield hit six home runs in a four-game stretch in late April, but only one of them left nearly everybody shocked.

When the senior shortstop drove a ball over the 10-foot outfield fence 225 feet from home plate during a 9-3 senior night victory over visiting Knoch on April 22, the reactions ranged from surprise to amazement.

It was the first over-the-fence home run at Hampton Community Park for Bradfield, a four-year starter who said she had “never been close” to clearing the imposing outfield wall before.

“I knew it was really hard to do and, honestly, I didn’t even think it went over (the fence) when I hit it,” she said. “I thought it hit the bottom. … but then (the ball) disappeared. I thought, ‘Oh, that went over.’”

Hampton softball coach Ron Fedell estimates there have been “only 10 or 11 balls” hit over the fence at Hampton Community Park during his 22 seasons at the school. He said only a couple of them were to right field, where the left-handed hitting Bradfield drove her memorable home run.

“When it was hit, I thought it had a chance,” Fedell said. “But they are tough to hit out there.

“Hannah was shocked. She had a big look of surprise on her face, and the kids all went crazy. I don’t think any of these kids had ever seen a ball get hit out because they are so far and few between.”

The rare blast highlighted a remarkable surge for Bradfield, who helped the Talbots shake off a slow start by hitting .611 (11 of 18) with six home runs, two triples and 17 RBIs during a 4-1 stretch from April 19-26.

She hit a grand slam in a 17-16 loss to Mt. Lebanon on April 19 and added two home runs in a 10-5 win over Mars the next day. She followed that with two home runs, including the over-the-fence drive, and six RBIs against Knoch and, one day later, ripped a leadoff home run in an 11-4 Section 3-5A win over Fox Chapel.

Led by Bradfield’s hot streak, Hampton (5-3, 7-6) has clinched its third consecutive appearance in the WPIAL playoffs, scheduled to start March 17.

“Everything was connecting,” Bradfield said, “and it was the right time to happen for us.”

Bradfield, who homered with seven RBIs in a 19-9 win over Mars on May 5, is batting .500 (23 of 46) with nine home runs, two triples and 30 RBIs for the season.

Hampton will need Bradfield to stay hot at the plate. Freshman Charlotte Lomb was hit on her pitching hand by a line drive in an 8-7 loss to Shaler on April 28 and required eight stitches. Fedell said he is hopeful Lomb — who has improved steadily in her first season — can return for the playoffs, but in the meantime, sophomore Addy Maguire or junior Shannon Shaughnessy will take over on the mound.

The 5-foot-4 Bradfield started playing T-ball at “age 4 or 5” and, although right-handed, she discovered early on she had more power batting lefty.

“She’s kind of ambidextrous,” said her dad, Tony.

Said Melissa Bradfield, who coaches her daughter’s Pittsburgh Power travel team, “I noticed she was a much stronger hitter on her left side than her right side. We just decided to stick with the left side. It was the better thing for her.”

Bradfield is also adept in the classroom. She is a straight-A student who carries a 4.3 GPA. Although she had at least one small-college offer to play softball, she will attend Pitt and major in bioengineering with plans to impact fields such as prosthetics and heart monitors.

So, in her final year of competitive softball — and with the pandemic wiping out her junior season — Bradfield is continuing to swing for the fences.

“I thought it would be really cool to play in college, and in middle school and early high school I thought I could do both,” she said. “But the past two years I was like, ‘OK. I really need to sit down and think. What should I do?’ I had to be a little bit more realistic. With my major, I knew I needed to spend more time focusing on that than softball.”


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