FLORENCE, Ala. (BVM) – After making waves nationally last spring, Rogers High School softball pitcher Hannah Price has made her collegiate decision. Though a number of Division I programs were looking into the talented righthander, Price made the decision to stay close to home at the University of North Alabama, a program that shares the same city as her high school.
“I’ve lived out here my whole life and I always went and watched North Alabama play when I was a kid and I remember telling my dad I wanted to be like them and I wanted to play there and I was really hoping I got to play there one day,” Price said. “I thought North Alabama would be the best for me because I still have my family there to support me and I’ve wanted to play there since I was a kid so I’m really excited to be able to play there.”
With her decision, the Lions are getting one of the top pitchers in not only Alabama but the entire country. As only a freshman, Price made her presence known to the state when she helped the Pirates go to the Class 4A Alabama High School Athletic Association state championship when she pitched a complete-game shutout to lead Rogers to the finals. She would start again during the team’s final contest against Alabama Christian and even though the team would fall in the contest, Price would earn all-tournament honors. Following the season, the freshman would be named to the Class 4A all-state team as well.
“No one thought we’d go as far as we did our freshmen year so we were all just out there goofing around and having fun and we all played really well together,” Price said. “It gave me a lot of confidence. It kind of got my name out there and people knew me a bit more and it felt great I was able to bring this program to a new level and make history.”
After a COVID-shortened 2020 season ended her sophomore year in just nine games, Price burst onto the national scene with a strong 2021 campaign. That season, Price made 55 appearances and started 37 games going 38-9 for Rogers. With 21 shutouts, 15 complete games, six no-hitters and two perfect games, Price established herself as a force not only in Alabama, but the country as a whole.
“I think most of it was maturing,” Price said. “I come out junior year, I’m a lot more mature. I made my pitches so much better. I knew what to expect junior year and I knew I wanted to come out and be that dominant pitcher again everyone remembered.”
Unfortunately for Price, this dominance would not end in a state championship. While her pitching helped lead the Pirates back to the state title game, Price’s effort just wasn’t enough as Rogers fell to eventual champion North Jackson. For her efforts, Price would earn all-tournament and all-state honors once again.
However, Price wasn’t done racking up the recognition. Price would be named the Class 4A Pitcher of the Year after she struck out 504 batters over 283 innings with just a 0.79 ERA. Price was also named to the 2021 MaxPreps All-America second team after she led the nation in strikeouts and wins.
“I was so excited when my dad told me about that,” Price said. “It made me feel so good about myself knowing that I’m just a little girl from a little 4A school in Alabama and people across the country know my name. It made me feel so good about myself.”
An injury would derail Price’s senior season as she would be forced to miss the entirety of the year due to a shoulder issue.
“It’s been a tough recovery process, mostly mentally it’s been tough on me,” Price said. “I’ve gotten back into pitching recently and I’m not the same as I was four or five months ago, but I have made a lot of progress in just a few weeks. I’m excited and I should have a full recovery and be just about the same if not better 20 weeks out. I’m excited to get back to where I was.”
However, this didn’t keep Price from being able to reach her dream of playing for North Alabama, something that she and her grandpa, known as “papaw”, shared.
“He was a huge part of my career and part of my choice in deciding to go to North Alabama,” Price said of her grandpa who recently passed. “He was one of my biggest supporters.”
At UNA, Price will be a part of a team seemingly on the rise. After officially joining the ASUN Conference in 2019, the Lions have seen their seasons improve going 26-20 in 2019, 16-7 in the shortened 2020 season, 19-19 in 2021 and jumping to a 40-20 record this past season. This year the team was also invited to the National Invitational Softball Championship, allowing their play to reach a national stage. While North Alabama will still be ineligible for the NCAA Tournament until the 2023-24 season due to the NCAA five-year transition rules, Price will be on the team when they will make their first push for postseason success.
“That would make me so happy,” Price said. “Just the thought of leading them to the NCAAs, their first appearance there, it’s just an exciting thought in general. It would make me so happy to play with them and to lead them there.”
With Price staying home and joining the fold at North Alabama, expect her to not only bring a lot of success with her, but also a lot of fans. By joining a strong Lions program on the rise, expect Price to once again grab the national spotlight before her time at North Alabama is over.
“I think they’re getting a really enjoyable, hard working player and person,” Price said. “I like to think I’m a leader so I hope I can go there and be a leader there as well.”