It was a little heartbreaking for Jim Robbins to hear his daughter was giving up his favorite sport. The basketball fan in him wanted to see her on the court, but instead Hannah wanted to focus on softball and volleyball.
Certainly seems like the right choice now, as Woodlan's Hannah Robbins is The News-Sentinel Softball Player of the Year for the second consecutive season after a stellar senior year. As a pitcher, she went 20-2 with a 0.40 ERA and 230 strikeouts, and was also strong at the plate as she hit .490 with three home runs and 36 RBIs.
Of course, she owes a lot of this success to Jim turning the heartbreak into knowledge as he studied film, read books and picked up any tidbit he could about softball pitching mechanics through the years to distill in his daughter.
“I definitely think that he's been the most influential person (on my softball career), I mean he's been coaching me since I was 8 so there really wasn't anybody else who taught me,” Hannah Robbins said. “He's literally taught me everything I know and it's been really, really fun having him as a coach.”
This relationship and the stats it produced helped Robbins lead No. 2 Woodlan to the sectional championship game before losing to No. 4 Bishop Dwenger this spring.
It was the earliest exit in the postseason Robbins had during her four years, which included losing in the 2A state championship game as a sophomore.
And through it all Robbins has had her dad helping her out as an assistant coach for Woodlan and in their own backyard.
“Since she's been 8, I've sat on the bucket and caught her, that's been our connection father-daughter over the years,” Jim Robbins said. “Maybe some kids wouldn't adapt to their father doing that, but it's been a great thing for me and her from a coaching and from a parenting standpoint as well.”
The coaching and time put in by Jim helped Hannah develop quite a repertoire on the mound. She currently utilizes four or five pitches she said, with the screwball being her go-to pitch.
It also helped create a strong attitude to lead and put herself in the middle of the action.
“I really didn't like when someone else had control of the game, and I guess I noticed that as I got older and was competing with other pitchers and other people were pitching,” Hannah said. “That's why I liked pitching so much, because I had control of the game and I could control what happened.”
Soon, though, comes a change for both Hannah and Jim with college looming. Hannah will attend Taylor University in Upland this fall where for the first time since she took the mound as a softball player her dad will simply be a fan.
“It will be different the first time down there. Sitting in the stands I'll be antsy,” Jim said. “It's going to be odd since someone else will be calling her pitches and instructing her and they'll change things … but when she comes home during the holidays, I'll be able to throw with her.”
Even college and miles won't take that connection away from them. Tough break for Taylor's opponents.
Bess Fiechter, Adams Central
(.520 BA, 6 triples, 5 doubles, 3 home runs, 37 runs, 24 RBI, 15 SB)
Jessica Claxton, Leo
(12-2, 0.21 ERA, 163 K's)
Hannah Robbins, Woodlan
(20-2, 0.44 ERA, 230 K's) (.492 BA, 3 HRs, 36 RBI)
Lauren Ehle, Woodlan
(.351 BA, 26 runs, 1 HR)
Katy Guebard, Carroll
(20-4, 1.08 ERA, 211 K's)
Alissa Hanni, Norwell
(.482, 31 runs, 9 HR, 37 RBI)
Erica Miller, Bishop Dwenger
(.443 BA, 32 runs, 9 doubles, 3 triples)
Kelsey Richard, Bishop Luers
(32 runs, 37 RBI, 7 HR)
Taylor Sparks, Concordia Lutheran
(.481 BA, 51 hits, 14 doubles, 2 triples, 4 HR, 41 RBI, 37 runs, 15 SB)
Kasey Gibson, Churubusco
(.542 BA, 45 hits, 32 runs, 38 SB)
Mikeila Boroff, Lakewood Park Christian
(27-2, 1.02 ERA, 290 K's) (.314 BA)
Jaclyn Delagrange, Lakewood Park Christian
(.465 BA, 8 HR, 37 runs, 34 RBI, 12 doubles)