Staff Photo: John Bohn Alaina Hall plays softball for North Gwinnett High School. A senior pitcher, infielder and outfielder, Hall has committed herself to Elon University.
SUWANEE -- Most of the time, it is not a good thing when a high school softball player can't seem to find a defined role on her team.
But for Alaina Hall and North Gwinnett, her ability to fill -- and excel in -- multiple roles has been mutually beneficial.
"She is a remarkable person as well as an athlete," Bulldogs coach Randy Black said about the senior. "She comes out here, and it's like, 'Where do you need me today?'"
It's a question Hall has been asked a lot over the past three seasons.
While she has been one of the team's top pitchers throughout her career, the Bulldogs have featured several other talented hurlers.
She's also been productive at shortstop, her natural position in the field. But when a promising young shortstop prospect emerged this season, Black asked her to move to the outfield -- a position she had never played before.
And Hall hasn't missed a beat, placing among the Bulldogs' leaders with a .333 batting average with two doubles and six runs scored over North's first seven games, while also posting a 2.50 earned run average with 10 strikeouts in 16 innings in the circle.
"She reminds me a lot of (former Bulldog and now Ole Miss standout) Brittany Broome," Black said of Hall. "Broomy pitched her sophomore and junior seasons, and then we had Alex McDavid move in, who as a sophomore took a lot of the moundwork away. So, we were that much better because Brittany was able to go to the outfield and shore up the outfield.
"(Hall) is very versatile. I think she would do anything I asked her to do -- even catch. She'd probably give me that patented Hall look that she and her sister (former Bulldog and West Georgia junior Kristin Hall) both have, but she would do it."
The younger Hall agrees with Black's assessment and said it was pretty much the same reaction she had when Black asked her to move to the outfield this season.
"If he told me I had to catch, I'd probably say, 'Coach, are you trying to get me killed?'" joked Hall, who hit .347 and led the Bulldogs in hits, runs, triples and stolen bases, and added a 2.01 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 73 innings as a junior last year. "Then I'd be like, 'OK, do you have any small catching gear?' ... When he asked me to move to short (last year), I was like, 'What? No, you don't want me to play infield.' And he was like, 'You can do it. You're a good athlete.' I tried it, and I'm a team player."
Besides being willing to anything help the Bulldogs, Hall said she actually likes moving around the field and getting different perspectives on the game.
But as a pitcher and having a strong competitive instinct, there is no mistaking where she wants to be in a meaningful situation.
"I like doing a little bit of everything," Hall said. "So, just not pitching was OK with me because I like to hit. But the important games, I want to be on the mound. Give me the ball. Sometimes when I (don't), sometimes you get disheartened, but I know (Black) is going to do his best (for the team), and if he needs me to play shortstop or play outfield, I did it because I have faith in our other pitchers."
Of course, it helps that having watched her older sister play for Black, she had a good idea of what to expect from him when she got to North.
And that relationship has made it easier for Hall to accept what Black asks of her each season.
"I've known Coach Black for a while," Hall said. "I knew his coaching style, so I guess I'm OK with it."
Hall recently committed to play college softball with Elon College, and she is eager to do whatever it takes to contribute for the Phoenix in the ultra-competitive Southern Conference.
But right now, her sole focus is on helping the Bulldogs as they try to emerge in a very competitive Region 7-AAAAAA and earn something that has eluded them throughout Hall's career -- a trip to the state tournament in Columbus.
"We really want to get there," Hall said. "I really believe that we can this year. We have a lot of talent. ... We have a lot of strong leaders. We should do it this year."