North Texas Daily

Hoff emerges as leader for Mean Green softball

Hoff emerges as leader for Mean Green softball

Hoff emerges as leader for Mean Green softball
March 12
00:13 2015

Alex Lessard / Staff Writer

Standing at 5 feet 2 inches and throwing left-handed are not typical qualities for a college infielder. Despite that, senior first baseman Dani Hoff hasn’t let her size stop her from thriving at the position she’s played all her life.

As college softball came closer, coaches told Hoff she should try a new position because she was too short to play first base.

“That just made me want to prove people wrong and want to be better,” Hoff said. “My dad never put any doubt in my mind at all that I was going to be able to play infield in college.”

At Garland High School, Hoff was named the district defensive MVP as a junior and posted batting averages greater than .470 in her final two seasons. Hoff said her dad is her best friend, and has always challenged her.

“After every practice and every game, I can have an hour-long conversation with him about certain aspects of the game, my swing, or anything really,” Hoff said. “Most of the time it’s just him listening to me, and a lot of ‘uh-huhs’ and ‘okays,’ but I know he’s always going to be there.”

Playing first base at her size hasn’t always been easy for Hoff. She said being a smaller target for everyone else in the field can make throwing to first base difficult at times.

“That’s my only limiting factor,” Hoff said. “But I know my teammates are all used to it.”

Sophomore catcher and outfielder Shelbie Smith said Hoff’s versatility in the field is something the team values.

“She can pretty much dig anything,” Smith said. “Her size doesn’t really affect us throwing to her or any plays that she’s ever had to make.”

Hoff led the team in batting average last season after putting up the second highest team average the season prior. Hoff said she likes using an underdog mentality to her advantage.

“I don’t get a lot of respect,” Hoff said. “People probably don’t think that I can hit very well or very hard, so I think I’m able to prove them wrong a lot of the times.”

Hoff has not missed a single game since becoming the full-time first baseman for the Mean Green as a sophomore. She was named to the preseason all-conference team this season. Hoff said the numbers she puts up are not typical for her position, so she makes sure to know herself well as a hitter.

“Just because [Taylor Schoblocher] is in front of me hitting a home run every other at-bat, I can’t think that I have to get in there and hit a home run,” Hoff said. “I just have to be who I am. I have to get on base and I have to be consistent.”

So far this season, Hoff has posted a .372 batting average, which is good for second highest on the team. Before head coach Tracey Kee came to North Texas, Hoff said she was starting to feel like she didn’t have anything else to learn.

“Coach Kee came in and made me feel like a mental midget on the infield,” Hoff said. “She made me understand that there’s so much more to the game, and there’s little aspects of the game that you can learn every single day.”

Hoff became best friends with senior outfielder Jen Beardsley in her freshman season with the Mean Green. They are both left-handed and stand just one inch apart in height, inspiring the coaching staff to call them “the meatballs.”

Beardsley, now Hoff’s roommate, said she has seen Hoff grow as a leader over the years.

“I always saw her as a leader, even when we were younger,” Beardsley said. “This year, being a senior, she’s even stepped it up further, helping out the younger people and letting them know how we run things around here.”

Beardsley said Hoff’s friendly personality made the transition to college easier for her.

“If any one of our teammates or anyone at all needed anything, she’d be the first one to step up and do it for them,” Beardsley said. “Not only is she outgoing and crazy, but she also has a really sweet side.”

Smith said Hoff is a great communicator, and underclassmen look up to her for leadership in big games.

“She may have a horrible day before she gets to practice, but when she steps on the field, she’s a totally different person,” Smith said. “You can just tell that she forgets everything.”

Although she has a plethora of accomplishments to her name, Hoff said she wants her last game at North Texas to be well after the C-USA tournament.

“I just really want this team to go to postseason so badly,” Hoff said. “I feel like that’s been our goal all along, but I can really see that it’s achievable this year.”

Featured Image: Senior infielder Dani Hoff slides safely into second base after hitting the ball toward left field. Hoff had two hits in three at bats and the team’s only RBI in a game against Texas State University last season. File Photo by Edward Balusek – Visuals Editor

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