Valdosta Daily Times

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June 18, 2014

Remaining in the game

Hancock getting opportunity to play overseas

VALDOSTA — When Valdosta State fell short of its bid for a second national championship in three years last month, Brianna Hancock thought her softball career was over.

Then she heard from an old high school teammate a couple weeks ago and now the former VSU star is leaving Thursday for the Netherlands.

“About two weeks ago I got a Facebook message from a girl I played with in high school and she asked if I would be interested in playing overseas,” Hancock said. “I wanted to hear more about it, and she said a coach from overseas was looking for a pitcher, and she had school and turned it down.

“She gave him my information and he watched the national championship game and was interested in me. It kind of snowballed from there.”

Hancock will spend two weeks in Haarlem, Netherlands, playing with the DSS club team before returning home to Warner Robins for July. She then will head back to the city about 20 minutes outside of Amsterdam for DSS’ fall season in the Royal Dutch Baseball and

Softball Association, which runs from August through October.

"I'm happy for her that she gets the opportunity to go over there and play," Valdosta State coach Thomas Macera said, adding that another former Blazer pitcher Alanna Hadley is also playing overseas. "She's over there playing right now. She's been over there since the beginning of the summer so we will have two pitchers over there now and it just says a lot about our program."

Said Hancock, who added she hasn't discovered too much about her new team or league so far: “They have different clubs over there and it's one of the club teams. There’s definitely a lot of exposure and plenty of good competition.

“I don’t know too much but I know we’re in the highest league over there.”

One thing she did learn through contact with the DSS coach — Werner Angermann — as well as one of her new teammates is that the team needs another pitcher. Hancock should be able to help there.

Pitching the Blazers to the NCAA Division II national championship game — VSU’s third appearance in the title matchup in five years — Hancock struck out 216 hitters in 219 innings as she recorded a 3.16 ERA. The 5-foot-9 right-hander held opponents to a .239 batting average as she posted a 25-7 record. Hancock was a first-team all-Gulf South Conference selection and a second-team all-South Region performer.

“He definitely wants me to be one of the starting pitchers from what I have understood from the conversations,” she said. “They had games this weekend against the Sparks, which has most of the players from the national team, so they’re really good. He told the girls after the games that I was coming and he said they were really excited.

“They’re looking to getting me over there and throwing me in. So I’m just looking forward to going over there, and while I haven’t seen any of their pitchers pitch, I’m just hoping to bring something a little different to the staff and help us win the games.”

Despite that success, Hancock had no expectations of playing after the Blazers’ 3-2 loss May 26 to West Texas A&M. In fact, it really had never crossed her mind.

“I didn’t even know this was an option,” Hancock said. “I’d heard about some people doing it, but I never thought anybody like that would be interested in me.

“It was kind of a freak thing that happened. I really couldn’t pass it up because who really gets this kind of opportunity. I’m really surprised the girl that recommended me turned it down because it’s such a great opportunity.

“I thought I was done playing softball but I guess I’ve got a little more in me. It’ll be fun going over there and having this experience and a career.”

Added Macera: "There's not a lot for collegiate athletes in softball after their college ball is done. So for them to have interest in her and to pick her up is a great thing. It's a great opportunity for her to go overseas and play some more ball."

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