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Stockman’s a big hit at Sierra

By: Ray Hacke, Journal Sports Writer
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Hailey Stockman was the second part of a powerful 1-2 punch in the Sierra College softball team’s batting order this season. And boy, did she pack a wallop. Batting in Sierra’s No. 4 spot, the Placer High graduate smacked 10 home runs and drove in 53 runs this season. Those numbers would both be school records had it not been for the player who batted before her — sophomore outfielder Rochelle Vanyi nearly quadrupled the Wolverines’ single-season home run record with 23 and also collected 67 RBIs this season. Toward the end of the season, Vanyi’s power numbers led many opposing pitchers to intentionally walk her and take their chances with Stockman. That was usually a mistake. “That’s a big reason why we made the state championship game – we had someone like Hailey to put the ball in play,” Sierra coach Darci Brownell said. “When other teams walked Ro, Hailey came up behind her to drive in runs.” Not only did Stockman’s statistics help Sierra (44-15) finish as California’s junior college runner-up this season, they helped her garner nationwide recognition as well. The freshman catcher was named to the 2009 Louisville Slugger/ National Fastpitch Coaches Association JC Cal All-America Team in addition to earning all-state, All-NorCal and All-Big Eight Conference honors. “Being the only freshman to make it (on the All-America team) was really cool,” Stockman said. There was more to Stockman’s slugging prowess than home runs. The freshman catcher had a .349 batting average, and more than half of her 50 hits went for extra bases. In addition to her homers, she hit 15 doubles and a triple. Still, what impressed many of the coaches responsible for the All-America voting, according to Brownell, was Stockman’s athleticism. She threw out 95 percent of the runners who attempted to steal against her and frequently turned potential foul balls into outs. “If I can stop the ball, I’ll do anything I can to get there,” said Stockman, who mostly played shortstop at Placer. “I’ve also got a strong arm — I can throw a lot of people out. During the season not many people stole on us.” “I loved watching her catch little pop-ups,” Brownell said. “She would always dive in front of home plate, dive in front of brick walls or whatever. “Her athleticism behind the plate is unparalleled for what we’ve seen at Sierra.” Over the course of the season, Stockman developed into one of the Wolverines’ leaders, keeping teammates upbeat with her light-hearted, supportive personality. “She fires you up,” Brownell said. “We set a school (team) record with 41 homers this season, and she was the first one out there whenever someone came across the plate – she brought the whole team with her.” “I’m really easygoing,” Stockman said. “I get along with everyone on the team. “I want us to have fun and be serious at the same time. If the mood is down in a game, I’m always cheering or trying to make my teammates laugh. If we can have fun as well as be serious, it helps us pick up our game.” Stockman plans to stay at Sierra for another season and finish up her general education requirements before transferring to a four-year school. “Hailey’s going to have options at the end of her career here as far as where she wants to go,” Brownell said. “Catchers like her are hard to come by. I’m fortunate she came to Sierra at the beginning.”