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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Sami Hood strives to improve her leadership skills as shortstop

Kristy Mace
Sami Hood (#14) runs past the bases to home plate after hitting a home run. The freshman is a common starting player, and hit her fourth home run of the season.

Sami Hood has been around softball since she was born. With all her siblings playing baseball and softball, she was on the field as a baby. She started tee-ball at age 3.

“Ever since then, I’ve never stopped, and I’ve loved every second of it,” Hood said.

Originally from Illinois, Hood earned a slew of recognitions while playing on her high school team in Allen, Texas. She said she was drawn to Wichita State because its location provides a chance for both sides of her family to watch her games.

The sophomore shortstop received several honors during her first season at Wichita State. In 2023, she was named the American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year, an Easton/NFCA All-America Scholar Athlete, and part of the all-rookie team.

This season, the starter will transition into shortstop. As a freshman second base, Hood spent a lot of time on the pitch with previous shortstop Sydney McKinney, who was named the NFCA First Team All-American and was the top pick in the Athletes Unlimited College Softball draft in 2023.

“Filling in the shoes of Sydney McKinney is a pretty big deal, but she got an entire year working with her,” head coach Kristi Bredbenner said. “She was an elite defensive player (in high school), could crush the ball … and playing against elite athletes just like herself, she has to realize there’s still more gas in the tank and potential for her.”

As she follows her predecessor, Hood hopes to grow into the “leader role” that comes with playing shortstop.

“You have to tell them where to go, and you have a lot more responsibility at short than you do at second,” Hood said. “So I just want to figure out how to become more of a leader and speak and be more vocal on the field.”

Hood said remembering her teammates’ encouragement from last season has helped her support the freshmen during their off moments.

“If they were to struggle or have a bad practice, they’d come to me, and I would just go back to those memories of when I was a freshman, how would my teammates treat me,” Hood said. “Being able to encourage them and tell them, ‘Everything’s going to be okay… We’re all by your side, and we’re behind you.’”

The softball team’s camaraderie extends off the diamond, with Hood finding a “family away from home” among her fellow players.

“They’re all amazing,” Hood said. “Like tonight, I’m going to dinner with a group of them, and then we’re going to go put tinsel in our hair for our first week and out. It feels like a whole bunch of sisters away from home.”

While striving to add to the team’s supportive atmosphere, Hood also aims to improve her hitting this season. Bredbenner praised the shortstop’s defensive skills and said if Hood’s batting is more consistent, she’d become a “really dominant” player.

“(She’s) been a great kid to work around,” Bredbenner said. “Works hard, but just good hands, good arm slot — those are the kind of things you can’t teach … (She) is somebody that, really, if she puts her mind to it — and she does — could be a really great player here and get a lot better.”

This week kicks off Hood’s sophomore season, and she looks forward to “surprising people” with the new additions to the team.

“I think our fans may not have as much faith in us as they did in the past, just because we’re not as big of a power-hitting team as we used to be,” Hood said. “I’m just really excited to hopefully shock our fans and see how far we can make it together as a team.”

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About the Contributors
Courtney Brown
Courtney Brown, Former news editor
Courtney Brown was one of the news editors for The Sunflower during the 2023-2024 year. She previously worked as a reporter and assistant news editor. Brown uses she/her pronouns.
Kristy Mace
Kristy Mace, Former photo editor
Kristy Mace was the photo editor for The Sunflower during the 2023-2024 year. She's majoring in psychology. Mace hopes to go on to get her Ph.D. and become a neuropsychologist. She does professional photography aside from The Sunflower.

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