Prep softball: Fullen thrives in new role for No. 1 Hurricane
By DEREK TAYLOR
DAILY MAIL PREPS EDITOR
HURRICANE, W.Va — When Hurricane softball left fielder Amber Null covered an impressive amount of ground to snag a foul ball for an out in the Redskins’ 6-0 win over Lincoln County on Tuesday, she was greeted with a quick pat on the back from a teammate who knows Null’s position well.
Redskin senior Addie Fullen, an All-State selection in 2013 and a Fairmont State signee, was right there to congratulate Null, a sophomore who started in right field a year ago.
“I just try to encourage the whole outfield. I tell them, ‘You have to get down, you have to block, you have to do anything you can to try and stop the ball,” Fullen said. “Whenever they make good plays I’m like, ‘That’s great! That’s what you do.’”
Fullen was somewhat of an anomaly on the 2013 All-State team, making the list as a left fielder. Since there are no distinct positions on the All-State roster beyond pitcher, catcher, infield, outfield and utility spots, most All-State outfielders tend to be center fielders.
Nicole Pierson held down that spot for the Redskins during their run to the Class AAA state championship last season. The gazelle-like Pierson covered considerable ground with her long strides and considerable speed, and was an honorable mention All-State pick.
Pierson’s graduation forced Hurricane (20-1) coach Josh Caldwell to slide Fullen to center, move Null into Fullen’s former position and insert Abigail Osborne into the lineup in right.
“She’s done everything we’ve asked of her,” Caldwell said of Fullen. “She probably could have played there the last two years but Nicole was a great center fielder. Obviously, (Addie’s) got a cannon for an arm, she runs well and is definitely one of the best leaders we have.”
It might be fitting that Fullen has emerged as a vocal leader for a team noted for playing serious softball while not taking itself too seriously. An unabashed fan of heartthrob vocal group One Direction, Fullen is certainly more versed in the weekly activity of singer Liam Payne than she is interested in talking about the OPS of any Major League Baseball player.
In fact, a rifle throw to home plate from deep in left field to retire a Jefferson baserunner at home plate during last year’s state tournament led to the sentiment that Fullen knows three things: doubles, defense and One Direction. Fullen hit .425 last year with two homers, 17 doubles and 42 RBI.
Leadership skills aside, the position change hasn’t always followed a steady course for the senior.
“Since I played left field all the way through high school it was different for me. It’s a different angle off the bat, you can’t really see behind the pitcher and sometimes you don’t really know what’s going on,” Fullen said.
“The first two games I was a little uncomfortable with it,” Fullen added. “I talked to (assistant coach) Meghan (Stevens) and said, ‘I don’t know how this is going to be.’ Finally, I just realized I like it out there.”
The senior spoke as if Pierson’s ghost was lingering in the background, saying “I’m still faster than you,” reminding Fullen that she still has room for improvement.
“I got faster, if you hadn’t noticed,” Fullen said with a laugh, “Just a little.”
The position change wasn’t the only tweak to Fullen’s game for 2014. After she hit her second home run in four games Tuesday night, she noted that some extra work with her hitting helped prepare her for her senior year as she moved from hitting one spot behind cleanup hitter and 2013 state Player of the Year Courtney Rogers to one spot in front of her.
“I went to a hitting coach at the beginning of the season. We didn’t change my swing, he helped me change my stance,” Fullen said of her work with Tony Pauley, father of South Charleston infielder Madison Pauley and an assistant coach for the St. Albans team that won the Class AAA state championship in 2010. “I’m a lot lower to the ground now,” Fullen said. “It literally was just one lesson, and everything came together after that.”
Using a stance that places less weight on her front (left) foot and instead shifts it to the back, Fullen has continued to be one of the area’s best power hitters. At the end of last week Fullen was hitting .528. In three games this week she has pushed her home run total to three, has hit eight doubles and driven in 30 runs.
Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at email@example.com or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT.