• PREP SOFTBALL

    Finishing with a Flurry

    Upbeat personality, rock-steady production make Leming a valued senior leader for North Medford
  • There's really not one way to pin down North Medford senior Hannah Leming. Second baseman, future softball coach, wedding planner, scrapbooker, designer, budding psychologist, uncontrollable laugher, amateur juggler — any one would be appropriate and all tell a certain story about the affable Leming.
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    • HANNAH LEMING
      WHO: A 5-foot-61„2 fourth-year starting second baseman for the North Medford softball team.
      • WHAT: Given more opportunities for her senior season, Leming is batting a whopping .560...
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      HANNAH LEMING
      WHO: A 5-foot-61„2 fourth-year starting second baseman for the North Medford softball team.

      • WHAT: Given more opportunities for her senior season, Leming is batting a whopping .560 with a .667 on-base percentage for the Black Tornado. Through only eight games, she's already more than halfway to her single-season highs for hits (24 in 2010 and '11) and RBIs (16 in 2011).
      • QUOTE: "She's a great team leader and she's grown into that. We would struggle without her."




      — Mike Mayben,

      North Medford head coach
  • There's really not one way to pin down North Medford senior Hannah Leming. Second baseman, future softball coach, wedding planner, scrapbooker, designer, budding psychologist, uncontrollable laugher, amateur juggler — any one would be appropriate and all tell a certain story about the affable Leming.
    She's more comfortable with describing herself as an energy-booster for the Black Tornado softball team this spring, yet even that seems incongruous to the descriptive words used by North Medford head coach Mike Mayben, who routinely talks of Leming's consistent and steady nature.
    "The kid's worked really hard to be where she's at," insists Mayben.
    However you choose to describe Leming, who definitely has an infectious spirit, just know that she's enjoying the time of her life as a senior leader for the 7-1 Black Tornado. She's one of six seniors on the squad but the only four-year starter among a talented bunch that includes standout pitcher Kelsie Bartley and center fielder Sierra Berryessa.
    "I am really excited about this season," says the 17-year-old Leming. "We have some stuff to work on but we're looking pretty good right now. If we just keep it up and continue to work hard, I'm super excited about what we can do."
    Adding to that excitement is the impact Leming is already having on the 2012 campaign.
    She's been a regular in the North Medford lineup since she stepped on campus but has routinely been asked to find ways to advance others on base, often sacrificing herself for the betterment of the team. This year, Mayben has moved Leming around in the lineup to provide more hitting opportunities — and she has risen to the challenge.
    "This year we wanted her to get more at-bats without having the leadoff batter on ahead of her and moved her back in the order to take advantage of her hitting instead of being in a position to bunt or slap all the time," says the coach.
    Instead of hitting second like she did last year, Leming has found herself in the cleanup spot behind power-hitting junior Maryssa Becker — who has already committed to Louisville — to take advantage of her consistent contact at the plate. Leming even hit in the leadoff spot Tuesday during second-day action at the 35-team North Medford Invitational as a reward for her .667 on-base percentage.
    "They have given me a lot more free range with that and it's really nice," Leming says of her new hitting prospects. "It feels really good, it really does. It's raised my confidence a lot to know that they have that much confidence in me."
    The change in responsibilities has certainly suited Leming just fine thus far. As someone who has never hit .300 in high school softball, Leming is cruising along at a .560 clip through eight games and boasts a robust .760 slugging percentage. Her 14 hits are already more than halfway to her high-water mark of 24 for a season set in 2010 and '11, and her seven RBIs in 25 at-bats put her just under the midpoint for RBIs she totaled last season in 81 at-bats (16).
    "She's not only been steady but she's consistently hitting the ball with power to the gaps," says Mayben. "You know what you're going to get from Hannah every time. She can drive the ball when you need it and she can bunt and slap and do all the things you ask her to do. As far as a clutch kid or a kid who is going to drive in a run when you need it, Hannah's the one you really want to have at the plate. We have other girls who can hit with more power and maybe do a little more with the ball, but she's one who's going to consistently come through for you."
    Leming actually came close to her first career home run on Tuesday, only to have the cold air and stiff wind knock the ball down to a fence-clanging double against Glencoe.
    "I thought it was out," she says, still laughing at the prospect. "I already had my home run trot on and everything."
    Such blasts aren't expected from Leming, who has signed to play at Southwestern Oregon Community College, but her everyday leadership certainly has been a must this season.
    "She's a great team leader and she's grown into that," says Mayben. "We would struggle without her."
    After spending the bulk of her youth playing third base and shortstop, Leming found herself at second base in her freshman year — supplanting older sister Kelsey, who had suffered a dislocated shoulder and interestingly returned to play third base in that 2009 campaign.
    "I had never played second my entire life until my freshman year and I hated it," says Leming. "It was insane how much I had to learn, but now I couldn't think of playing another position."
    With good athletic ability, instincts and a knack for soaking up coaching tips, Leming has been rock-solid at second base for the Tornado. She boasts a career fielding percentage of .952, with only 16 errors against 171 putouts and 147 assists.
    She had five putouts and two assists in the 2009 state championship win over Sunset, 4-3 in nine innings, and helped put the go-ahead run in place during North's ninth-inning surge. With Amanda Wolfe and Tejay Schmidt reaching ahead of her, Leming was able to come through with a two-strike chopper to third base that advanced courtesy runner Berryessa, who had come in for Wolfe, and Schmidt. Kelsey Leming then put down a perfectly placed suicide squeeze bunt to plate Berryessa with the eventual winning run.
    "It was just unreal to be a freshman starting on varsity," Leming says of her introduction to high school softball. "It was just an amazing experience, especially to be able to play with my sister, too. You can never relive something like that, it was absolutely unreal."
    And, yet, the rest of Leming's high school career has been spent trying to find a way to get right back to that point.
    "It takes a lot of luck," she says. "We know we're pretty good this year but we have so much to work on still. The good thing is everyone is just stepping up every day and working hard to get us back to the state championship. Everyone is so excited to be out there every day and everyone has something different that they're good at that just seems to work when we put it all together."
    Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@mailtribune.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry
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