JOHN CURTIS - Daily Union Sports Editor
Shelbyville Daily Union
SHELBYVILLE, IL. —
One of the best contact hitters in recent Shelbyville Lady Ram softball history, Hannah Dudley signed with Lincoln Land College two years ago. Now,she has signed to move on to Benedictine University, Springfield.
"I am extremely excited to play for Benedictine," Dudley said. "Coach Crum is super cool and knows a lot about softball. It is a small school, like I'm used to, and my new teammates are nice. I'm also excited about some of my Loggers teammates going and of course Abbie (Watton-SHS '13 )."
Senior Hannah Dudley, the daughter of Todd and Billie Dudley of Shelbyville, signed from high school as a preferred walk-on with the Lincoln Land Loggers. Dudley was known as the quintessential #2 hitter at Shelbyville, and as a lead-off hitter, making contact and getting on base to jump start the amazing Ram run machine.
In 2010, Dudley hit .392 and had an on-base percentage of .470. She only struck out once in every 8.36 at bats. Despite being a contact hitter, Dudley had a home run, eight doubles and had a slugging percentage of .471.
After Dudley signed with Lincoln Land in February of 2011, she was part of the 2011 State Runner-up Lady Rams (33-8). The Ram dominating offense started with Dudley as the lead-off hitter all season. She hit .297 and employed a team-high 22 walks in her .408 on-base percentage.
Dudley got on base and then scored a team-3rd 33 runs. She was also adept at hitting doubles, 8 of her 38 hits. Due to the bottom of the order getting on base, Dudley also had ducks on the pond and delivered 20 RBIs. Despite being the lead-off hitter, she compiled a .359 slugging percentage.
Dudley's success with the State Runner-up Lady Ram program was appreciated by Dudley.
"It helped get me recognized and helped me get to where I am today, Dudley said."
It got her noticed by Lincoln Land.
“Our recruiter saw her (Dudley) play a couple of times and then she came to our camp,” said Logger coach John Marsaglia. “She is versatile. She hits well and fields well. She can play the infield or the outfield.”
Dudley prepared for the next level when she went to Lincoln Land. She lifted and grew muscle. She worked out every day.
"I Iove it," Dudley said. "I have a passion for softball. I’ve been working non-stop in softball to be the best I can be.
That has been evident to all who have watched the slightly built Dudley from year-to-year.
"With the drills to get stronger and the weight lifting, my swing is more powerful and I use my legs more than when I was in high school,” Dudley said.
She did pick up her strength through the Lincoln Land speed and agility program in the off-season and team weight lifting. That potential and hard work in high school is now taking her on to a 4-year program at Benedictine.
Lincoln Land is a 2-year, year-round program that plays 30 fall games and 60 games in the spring with a postseason tournament.
Dudley is finishing up her 2nd year at Lincoln Land. Benedictine University Springfield decided to pick Dudley up after she is done with Lincoln Land and extend her collegiate softball and golf career playing for the Bulldogs. Dudley is one of four Lincoln Land players transferring to Benedictine.
Dudley expects to play the middle infield at Benedictine and some outfield. She has been playing 2nd base for the Loggers and hitting in the 7th or 8th slot.
"I like it," Dudley said. "In high school I was a lead-off hitter and it was more stressful. Now, the power hitters get on base and my job is to get them moved around. I'm the lead-off hitter for the bottom of the order."
She's gotten stronger in college and that has helped her as she has moved up the softball food chain.
"It is definitely tougher, " Dudley said. "The pitchers are faster, not as fast as Grace (Moll-SHS ace). She's awesome. The hitters are more skilled. There are so many plays to learn and every play is more intense. There is a lot to concentrate on. I like it."
After a slow start in 2013 due to a pinched nerve, Dudley is currently 2nd on the team in batting average (.462) in slugging percentage (.692) and on base percentage (.538). Against Lincoln, Dudley went 3-for-3 with 2 RBIs. Against St. Petersburg, Fla she went 1-for-1. Against Southwestern Tennessee, Dudley went 2-for-3 with 2 RBIs.
Dudley wanted to move on after two years at Lincoln Land and now she will, joining former Shelbyville teammate Abbie Watton, who will come in as a freshman pitcher. Other Logger players have gone on to Dominican University in Chicago, Millikin in Decatur, St. Ambrose College in Iowa, Illinois College in Jacksonville. Lincoln Land is also working with University of Illinois-Springfield.
Hannah Dudley 2010 SHS stats: BA .392, AB 102, R 32, Hits 40, 2B 8, 3B 0, HR 1, RBI 17, SLG% .471, BB 14, SO 14, OB%.470, SB 0-of-0, XBH 8, PA/SO 8.36
Dudley 2011 SHS stats: BA .297, AB 128, R 33, Hits 38, 2B 8, 3B 0, HR 0, RBI 20, SLG% .359, BB 22, SO 25, OB% .408, OPS .767, AB/SO 5.1