Averett University softball player and former Bartlett Yancey softball standout Hannah Thompson received a congratulatory text earlier in the spring.
It wasn’t from her family, or one of her former or current coaches at BY or Averett, but from her fellow teammate at BY and Averett and long-time friend Anna Coleman.
It was the type of text you’d send a person that’s been a friend for over a decade but there was only one problem:
Thompson didn’t know what Coleman was congratulating her for.
“When she got one of her awards this season, I texted her and said something like ‘OMG, congrats. Add another one to the resume. Proud of you,’ and she was like, ‘What are you talking about?’” Coleman recalled, laughing.
What was the award?
Thompson’s selection to the 2019 National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-Region First Team.
“I think I said something like, ‘Did you see my barstool already?’” Thompson chuckled.
“And I was like, ‘No dude. I’m talking about the award you got,’” Coleman said, rounding out the humorous exchange.
The moment wasn’t the first time Coleman had gotten the jump on Thompson.
Midway through our interview, Averett Assistant Sports Information Director Joseph Swanson leans in and says, “Ask them about their nickname.”
Coleman and Thompson break out in laughter and slightly blush at Swanson’s comment.
“What is it?” I ask, the suspense killing me.
“Frick and Frack,” both reply at the same time laughing.
The pair’s nickname suggests they’ve developed quite a bond over the years, both on and off the field or court, and in this case, the assumption is right.
“We might as well have been born together,” Thompson said.
“Pretty much, right out of the womb,” Coleman concurred, letting out a laugh.
“We grew up in church and everything together and then we’ve always played ball and always played sports with each other,” Thompson said.
Coleman and Thompson played together on BY’s basketball team during the 2014-15, 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons, where Coleman was a guard and Thompson was a forward.
In addition, Coleman and Thompson were also members of BY’s volleyball team from 2015-17, with Coleman playing setter and Thompson middle hitter.
Some would say the time the two have spent together has almost given them a telepathic bond.
“I’ve had people say that if they her struggling in the circle, I’m going out there to talk with her,” Coleman said. “I don’t really do it with other pitchers that much but I do it with her because I know her so well.”
“We really don’t talk about softball or anything like that because a lot of time she’s not doing anything wrong mechanically, but I go out there and talk to her and calm her time and a lot of times it’s by talking about random things.”
In fact, sometimes Coleman knows the pitch Thompson needs to throw before she realizes it herself.
“I’ll be in the circle and I’ll think of a pitch and she’ll call it and I’m just like, ‘Yeah, that’s the pitch,” Thompson commented.
“It’s either that or I’ll come up to bat fly out to the shortstop then she’ll follow by flying out to the short stop and I’m ‘Anna, we’ve got to stop doing this.’”
Thompson might only be a rising sophomore, but her award jacket would make the casual observer think she’s a fifth-year senior.
On May 22, Thompson became the fourth Averett softball player to earn NFCA All-American honors. Out of those four, three — including Thompson — played at BY. Former Buccaneers Jessica Long and Taylor Dix were also named to the First and Second Teams, respectively, in 2014 and 15, respectively.
In addition, she also earned USA South Conference Rookie Pitcher of the Year honors and was named to the USA South All-Conference First Team and East Division First Team as well.
She was also voted to the USA South All-Tournament Team and earned USA South Rookie Pitcher of the Week honors six times.
Adding another notch to her resume, she was voted DIII National Player of the Week by Fastpitch News on March 19.
For Coleman, the awards have given her a chance to rep her best friend and longtime teammate.
“Even though she might outperform me at times, there’s never any jealousy or anything like that,” Coleman said. “It’s just like, ‘That’s my homie.’”
Thompson’s accomplishments, along with her humility and attitude, led to her being selected as Averett Freshman Female Athlete of the Year — an award that sticks out above the rest because it represents Thompson’s character and leadership abilities.
However, in typical fashion, Thompson had no idea she would win the award.
“I really had no idea I was even being considered for it, much less that I would win it so I was just chilling at the banquet and they called my name and I went, ‘What?’” Thompson remarked with a grin.
Coleman interjected, “Everybody but her knew she was getting that award.”
“I really had no idea,” Thompson continued. “I was like ‘Who’s going to get this and they called my name and I was like, ‘Well, I guess I have to go up there.’”
Coleman and Thompson, along with the rest of Averett’s team, went through an experience this past spring that further cemented their bond.
Averett opened the USA South Conference Tournament with an exhilarating, 6-4 win in 10 innings over Huntingdon. Thompson delivered the game-winning blow, blasting her seventh home run in the 10th.
However, luck wasn’t on the Cougars side in Game 2, as Maryville escaped with a 2-1, walk-off victory in eight, placing Averett in the loser’s bracket of the double-elimination tournament.
What followed next was the stuff of memories.
The Cougars, facing elimination, defeated Piedmont, Huntingdon and Salem in three games on Saturday, placing them in the championship game.
Thompson got the save against Piedmont, throwing three innings of two-hit, shutout ball, while striking out two.
Coleman drove in two of Averett’s three runs in the victory over Huntingdon, while Thompson got the win in the circle, retiring all three batters she faced in the seventh.
Thompson and Coleman combined for four RBIs and three hits in the win over Salem.
For Thompson, the game against Salem illustrated the team’s camaraderie.
“I remember pitching in that game against Salem and I couldn’t get the last out to save my life,” Thompson said, looking at Coleman.
“All my teammates were behind me and everybody played a role in the conference tournament and I feel like that made the difference,” Thompson said.
Coleman remarked, “We really have the best chemistry of any team I’ve ever played on, in any sport, so that makes a difference too when you’re trying to reach a goal.”
By the time Coleman and Thompson leave Averett in 2022, they will have spent enough time together to finish each other’s sentences. Okay. Scratch that. They already finish each other’s phrases, so by the time they leave, they will be able to start each other’s sentences as well.
In fact, their bond goes so deep, they can still vividly remember the one time they weren’t on the same team nearly 15 years ago.
“We weren’t on the same t-ball team though and that just tore me up,” Thompson said, laughing.
“I was on the Fire Ants and you were on the Wildcats,” Coleman recalled, chuckling.