Ellie Hansen transferred from FPC to Matanzas before the start of softball tryouts. Now, she's the Pirates' starting shortstop and lead-off hitter.
When Ellie Hansen walked the halls of Matanzas High School for the first time, she saw many unfamiliar faces. Hansen, a junior, was fresh off her transfer from crosstown rival Flagler Palm Coast in early January.
Hansen was a two-year starter on the Bulldogs’ softball team. She started in the outfield her freshman year and at shortstop her sophomore year. She transferred to Matanzas right before the start of tryouts for the 2018 season. Her first practice was much like her first day of school: She hardly knew any of the players on the team.
But, it didn’t stay that way for long.
“This team is so accepting of me,” said Hansen, who now starts at shortstop for the Pirates. “A lot of kids came up to me who I didn’t know, and they just had open arms for me. People I had never met before started texting me and reaching out to me.”
It took Hansen only a week to feel comfortable with her new team. Now, in addition to starting in the infield, she’s the Pirates’ lead-off hitter.
In her first at-bat against Seabreeze on the night of Tuesday, Feb. 27, the righty swung on a 2-2 count and drilled the ball just short of the right field wall for a triple. Matanzas took a 3-1 lead in the first inning, and in the second frame, Hansen struck again, this time connecting for a single. She was the lone bright spot for the Pirates in their 6-3 loss to the Sandcrabs, going 2-for-4 from the plate and posting no errors on defense.
Matanzas coach Rebecca Bower said she installed Hansen as the lead-off hitter because of Hansen’s knack for getting on base.
“She’s got good speed, and she can pretty much do whatever I ask of her,” said Bower, who is in her first year as head coach of the Pirates. “She can hit. She can bunt. She makes contact more times than she doesn’t.”
Hansen’s transfer came as a complete — and welcomed — surprise to Bower.
“I totally was not expecting it,” she said. “I love having her. She’s a good, hard-working kid. And obviously, she performs most of the time. I couldn’t ask for anything more from her.”
Besides her goal of winning a district championship, Hansen said she wants to improve as the lead-off hitter “to get the hits rolling” and to avoid errors in the infield, where she has yet to record an error this season.
“I may not be a team captain,” Hansen said, “but I feel like I can be the captain of the infield.”