Needle in a Hays stack

Needle in a Hays stack

Senior middle infielder Danae HaysT is hitting .293 with 12 hits so far this year. UA Athletics

Danae Hays is a leader. As a senior, she has the experience to be one. As a middle infielder, she has to be.

In her first year, she was part of the team that won the 2012 National Championship and the first national title for the Southeastern Conference.

“Well, right now it’s huge because for the most part, she’s the oldest kid in the infield and the only kid with four years of experience so it’s been really fun to watch her grow, really from a quiet freshman and now into a very vocal, very good leader as a senior,” Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said. “If you have a younger pitching staff, which I really consider ours to be, you need to have a veteran on the infield, and she provides that for us.”

Hays isn’t one to let an opportunity slip away. There are no guarantees in Murphy’s lineup.

“You can come in and it could be your senior year, and you could feel like, ‘OK, yeah, this is the year I’m finally going to start,’ but he recruited this dynamite freshman that’s gonna push you and push you and push you,” Hays said. “In return, you’re either going to push back and you’re going to earn your starting spot or that crazy freshman’s gonna come in and she’s going to take it from you.”

Hays has earned her spot. Through four years, she’s put together nearly 190 games played. She’s started 182 of the 189 games played.

She has 94 hits in 367 at-bats. She has 15 home runs and 11 doubles. Her latest home run came on Friday in the 8-2 loss to Michigan.

“I think this year, you’re going to see a little bit more offense out of her because she’s been doing so well offensively, and she had her first home run last weekend,” Murphy said. “And I think you’ll see more of those.”

This year, she’s hitting .293 with 12 hits.

Hays’ impact is seen in other places besides the lineup. Hays has a good humor about her, but she also loves the game and is always positive, senior utility player Jadyn Spencer said.

“Softball is her life, not in a bad way, in a good way," she Everything she does, every decision she makes, softball has always been her priority, and her teammates have always been a priority. And I couldn’t ask for a better teammate and a better person to be able to share the last four years with for sure.”

Saturday’s doubleheader with Louisiana-Lafayette is Hays’ senior day. She will be recognized before the first pitch at 1 p.m.

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