Hannah Perryman will strike you out
With Hannah Perryman, there’s no secret. Every batter knows almost exactly what the University of Missouri–St. Louis softball standout will throw.
“All I have is a riseball and a curveball,” says Perryman, a junior pitcher.
Then why do so many struggle against the 5-foot-5-inch southpaw?
“I’m effectively wild,” she says, laughing. “I’ve never been a finesse pitcher who can hit the spot dead on. I just keep batters on their toes. They don’t know where the pitch will end up because I don’t know exactly where it’s going either.”
That’s it. Controlled chaos. To say it serves Perryman well is an understatement.
In just two seasons, she amassed statistics making her worthy of UMSL Sports Hall of Fame consideration. Perryman, 21, strikes out nearly two batters per inning, and she smashed a program record with 760 career strikeouts – 246 more than the original record. She’s also second in wins (53), third in ERA (1.37) and fourth in complete games (44).
Perryman’s pitching skills have garnered her All-American nods and conference Pitcher of the Year honors in each of her first two seasons. This year, she helped lead a young UMSL Tritons team that fell a single run shy of a College World Series berth.
She succeeds by slinging softballs across home plate at up to 67 mph. For perspective, a softball thrown at 70 mph can move about 37 feet from pitcher’s hand to home plate in .35 seconds – or quicker than a baseball pitched 100 mph from a major league mound, according to ESPN’s “Sport Science.”
Fear and helplessness? These are not things Perryman experiences when pitching for the Tritons. But she knows those feelings well from her teenage years.
From fifth through 11th grade, a slightly older girl from Perryman’s suburban Chicago neighborhood stalked her. There were regular verbal torments and loitering on the sidewalk outside Perryman’s house. She calls the experience a “mental attack.” Police told her family there was little they could do.
Perryman says she suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and took antidepressants during this time. She also dove headfirst into softball.
“I never wanted to be home,” Perryman says. “I was always practicing.”
She spoke out about the situation with journalists and lawmakers, leading to changes in Illinois laws. She even went to Washington, D.C. for a public discussion with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. It also sparked her interest in criminology and criminal justice, which she’s studying at UMSL.
Perryman loves the CCJ department. She rattles off faculty names – “Isom, Bursik, Klinger” – as if she were listing her favorite pro ballplayers. She ultimately wants to help those who’ve suffered experiences like she has.
The 2015 season could be big for Perryman. Her best friend and fiercest competitor joined her on the softball team, as a CCJ major and a roommate.
“She’s one of the people who helped me get through everything before,” Perryman says of her 19-year-old sister, Jennah. “She’s always been my rock. I’m so excited to have her here.”
Sibling competitiveness pushes the sisters to work harder in the classroom and on the field, Perryman says. That bodes well for the team’s odds of a 2015 College World Series bid.
This story originally appeared in the fall 2014 issue of UMSL Magazine.
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