116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
WEST LIBERTY — Go ahead. Call them utility players.
They probably won’t mind. And if they do, Chad Libby will set them straight.
“Sometimes the term ‘utility’ has a negative connotation,” said Libby, softball coach at West Liberty High School. “But for all three of these girls, in this case, it’s a compliment.
“They can all play any position, and play it as well as anybody.”
For the Hall sisters (Sailor is a junior, Finley a sophomore, Pearson an eighth-grader), utility equals versatility. And versatility is a very good thing.
“It’s nice having the three of us together on the same team,” Sailor said. “We all have different skills.”
Sailor splits pitching duties with senior Janey Gingerich, and owns a 13-5 record and 1.77 ERA.
If Gingerich is pitching, Sailor likely is playing center field. Whoever is pitching, is probably pitching to Finley. Pearson plays shortstop.
So the Hall sisters routinely are staffing three prominent positions.
“We can all play different positions, and I think that helps in the long run,” Sailor said.
When they come in to bat, the top of the lineup is Pearson at leadoff, Sailor batting second and Finley third.
“Your first three batters in the top of the first: Hall, Hall and Hall.”
Pearson leads the team in hitting (.440) and runs (41). She has stolen 23 bases without getting caught.
Sailor is hitting .390 and leads the Comets in RBIs, with 37.
Finley (.387) has the most pop, with five home runs. She also has 12 doubles and 35 RBIs.
The sisters take their act to Fort Dodge this week. The eighth-ranked Comets (23-7) face No. 3 Williamsburg (31-10) in a Class 3A first-round game at 11:30 Tuesday morning.
They don’t agree on everything, but they are in consensus that they get their athletic gifts from their mother. Trisha (Koenig) Hall was a four-sport athlete at West Liberty, from which she graduated in 1993, then went on to play college softball.
Their gifts come in different packages.
“Pearson is a lot faster,” said Libby, who is taking the Comets to state for the second time in three years. “Finley has the strongest arm, and Sailor is kind of a combination of both of them.”
Personalities vary, too.
“Sailor is sort of the leader, the spokesman for the three of them,” Libby said. “She has the most experience. She helps Pearson learn the new things.
“Finley is the hardest on herself. She’s the most serious. She’s hard on herself if she’s not perfect.
“Pearson is the most fun. She’s happy-go-lucky. That’s probably the youth in her.
“They’re all different kids, and you have to coach all three a little differently.”
Their common ground is the competitiveness.
“They all want to win as badly as anybody I’ve had,” Libby said. “All three of them take it personally when they lose.
“They are each other’s biggest fans, and their own worst critics.”
As the eldest, Sailor says she tries “to keep the other two in check.” And Finley admitted, “Sailor keeps me under control if I’m a little rattled. We’re all pretty vocal, good communicators.”
Libby said the dynamic between the sisters “is great ... most of the time.”
The most common dust-ups usually involve the older two, according to Pearson.
“Hey, I’m the one that watches you two (argue) most of the time,” she said.
But seriously ...
“Having those two, it has made (the transition) a lot easier for me,” Pearson added. This is more fun than I’ve ever had.”
There’s a fourth Hall girl on the horizon. Sullivan is 12 years old and will be a seventh-grader in the fall.
West Liberty has won 12 of its last 14 games (including a victory over 5A top-five Pleasant Valley). The two losses in that span came against 5A No. 1 Muscatine and 4A No. 4 Carlisle.
“We didn’t play the best when we played Williamsburg last time (in an 11-3 loss May 29),” Sailor said. “They might be underestimating us.
“We have confidence that we can make plays and take it to the next level (this week).”