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Athlete of the week: Hammond puts Spartans among region's best
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West Hall pitcher Emily Hammond’s eight-strikeout shutout performance against Flowery Branch on Thursday was nothing shocking for Lady Spartan opponents. She has been stumping hitters all season long.

The junior has a 5-3 record and a 0.92 ERA for West Hall (10-5, 4-0 Region 7-AAA) and has not only helped the Lady Spartans remain undefeated in region 7-AAA, but also make them one of the best pitching teams in the league, with an average of only one run allowed per game.

“I feel like I’ve played pretty well this year,” Hammond said. “I’ve been working really hard to improve my pitching, and it’s showing.”

One of Hammond’s finer moments this season was a seven-strikeout perfect game (in three innings) against Johnson on Aug. 19.

“The perfect game felt really good,” Hammond said. “It showed that all the hard work was paying off.”

As a result, Hammond has become West Hall’s go-to pitcher. Along with Thursday’s performance, she also helped in blanking Gainesville last Tuesday, bringing her earned run average between the two games to a very comfortable number: zero.

“Emily gives us a chance to win every game,” West Hall coach Warren Sellers said. “Overall she’s a great athlete.”

While not a power pitcher, Hammond uses off-speed pitches and pinpoint accuracy to throw off hitters. Her curveball averages in the high 50s, while her changeup, her favorite pitch, registers in the low 30s.

“She changes speeds a lot, and her curveball is pretty darn crazy,” said Bailey Soucie, Hammond’s catcher. “She had trouble hitting her spots at first, but she’s better now.”

Hammond has been more than just a standout pitcher for the Lady Spartans. She has also earned respect at the plate, where she is batting .400 on the season. She hit a two-run homer against Gainesville last Tuesday.

“When she’s on, she’s has good power,” Sellers said. “She can take outside pitches to all fields.”

According to Hammond, the secret to her success has been the amount of time she spends in the weight room. As a point guard on the basketball team, and a sprinter on the track team, gaining strength has become an important value to her. She lifts year around with assistant softball coach and strength training coach Glenn Preston.

“She’s very strong for her size,” Sellers said of Hammond, who stands at 5-feet-5. “She works really hard in the weight room.”

But the pressure of being West Hall’s star pitcher, along with her other endeavors, has not kept Hammond from enjoying every trip to the circle.

“I enjoy softball the most,” she said.
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