Former Ceres-based Tri-County Smash youth travel softball standout Maddi Hackbarth relished meeting some of her favorite Olympic and college players at camps and games as a youngster.
Hackbarth’s biggest memorabilia score was taking home a bat autographed by Crystl Bustos from the Jennie Finch Camp.
Hackbarth has since experienced a role reversal by becoming a fan favorite at Arizona State. The senior slugger/catcher routinely poses for pictures with and signs autographs for young girls.
“When you’re on the other side, its’ so cool knowing you’re making a difference in someone’s life,” she said. “It’s crazy to think I was once in their shoes.”
Hackbarth batted .350 from the plate with nine homers, one triple, nine doubles, 32 RBIs and 21 runs through Arizona State’s first 29 games during the COVID-19-shortened 2020 campaign.
The 15th-ranked Sun Devils posted a 22-7 overall record.
The NCAA Division I Council voted on March 30 to grant an extra year of eligibility to all spring athletes who had their seasons canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Hackbarth will return for a fifth year of softball in 2021.
“I’m very blessed, honored and appreciative I get to continue my legacy. I can’t wait to get back out there."Maddi Hackbarth
“I’m very blessed, honored and appreciative I get to continue my legacy,” she said.
“I can’t wait to get back out there,” Hackbarth added.
Hackbarth will try to break Arizona State’s program record for home runs hit in a single season.
She hit 19 homers, one shy of the team’s highest total in one year, as a junior.
“I want the record bad,” Hackbarth said.
Hackbarth will put her pro aspirations on hold to suit up for Arizona State for one more season.
She misses her teammates and coaches.
She misses practice and game day.
But most of all, she misses interacting with fans.
“We have a great fan base here,” Hackbarth said. “I have conversations with them about everyday life and go up to them and give them hugs. Being able to put on a uniform and be someone’s super hero, you’re not going to be able to do that once you graduate.”
Hackbarth was supposed to have a meet-and-greet with a fan at Arizona State’s home stadium but COVID-19 safety measures prevented that from happening.
She wished the 10-year-old girl happy birthday via video chat.
“That brought joy to her life,” Hackbarth said. “That made my day. That’s what I play for.”