METHUEN — The more they walk away frustrated — and showing it — the tougher it gets on Methuen High School’s softball opponents and the better it gets for the Rangers star pitcher Hannah Everson.
“Sometimes I’ll throw my changeup and then they slam their bats down,” Everson said. “That makes me happy. I end up pitching faster and with more confidence.”
Not that she needs an confidence booster with some of the career statistics Everson already has put together. Going into the state tournament, Everson’s all-time numbers included: 668 strikeouts, an earned-run average of 0.78 and an opponent batting average of .155. Of her 40 career wins, 25 are shutouts, and she’s given up just 61 walks in about 441 innings — less than one per game.
The best part for Methuen High is Everson is a junior and has another season to play for the Rangers.
Everson throws mostly curveballs and changeups at speeds between 50 and 60 mph, which with the mound 43 feet from home plate can feel like the 90 mph of a baseball pitcher at the major league distance of 60 feet, 6 inches. Her pitches have produced 10 strikeouts per game. She has set down the side on strikes 77 times in her career.
Everson has amassed at least 10 strikeouts in 38 of those games. In 10 games, she has 15 or more strikeouts, including a game with 20 strikeouts and another with 21.
Everson has been on the mound for nearly every inning of every game this season, leading the Rangers to a 13-7 record, including 11-4 in Merrimack Valley Conference Division 1. Her career mark is 40-22, including 13-6 this year.
“If you’ve seen her throw, you don’t want to take the ball out of her hands,” Methuen coach Jason Smith said. “It’s hard to argue.”
Everson has pitched 134 innings this season and allowed 10 walks, one of which was intentional.
“I could probably tell you honestly that she is probably the most dominant pitcher in probably the toughest conference in the state of Massachusetts from top to bottom,” Smith said. “If you look at the teams we play and how many will end up making the state tournament, whether it be Division 1 or Division 2, we play the best. The MVC by far the toughest.”
Pitching in the MVC isn’t easy, but Everson has three no-hitters and one perfect game during her three seasons on the varsity. The perfect game remains her personal highlight. It happened two years ago during Everson’s freshman year against Central Catholic.
Everson is not all about pitching, however. She is also batting .371 this season.
She started playing softball at age 8 and began pitching at 12.
“I started playing softball just because I liked it, but then my team didn’t have a pitcher so I tried out,” Everson said. “Then I’d practice all winter.”
She still practices every winter by pitching three or four times a week and attending pitching clinics.
After the spring softball season with the Rangers, Everson pitches for the Bay State Brats, an Amateur Softball Association club. One of three pitchers on the Brats, Everson has been with the team for five years.
In her spare time, Everson works with young pitcher Leah Bradley, the 11-year-old daughter of Whittier Tech Athletic Director Kevin Bradley.
“I show her how to get the most velocity on the ball and placement of the ball,” Everson said. “I catch for her and show her how to get it on the outside and inside corner.”
Everson said learning the different pitches is the hardest part.
“With some of the pitches you have to move your feet to different places and hold the ball differently,” Everson explained. “But once you learn that, then it actually gets easier.”
As a first-year head coach with the Methuen, Smith knows how lucky he is to have Everson taking the mound for the Rangers.
“She really gets into it and gets behind her teammates,” said Smith, who also coaches the Methuen High School swim team where he works with talented swimmer Laura Moriarity. “I am fortunate to have two athletes in the two programs that I coach that are phenomenal at what they do. I really enjoy watching her pitch. Whether it’s in a game or in practice. I can’t proclaim to know how to throw a softball and I can’t proclaim to know how to throw a softball the way she does.”