By Tom Pedulla—
Andy Hegarty has been honing her softball skills with Eric Holtz since she was 12. Her commitment to excellence stood out even then.
“She loved putting the work in and a lot of kids don’t,” said Holtz, who owns and operates Game On 13 in Elmsford. “A lot of kids want to reap the rewards without putting in the necessary work.”
Three years later, Hegarty’s tremendous work ethic, combined with abundant talent, are taking her to unimagined heights. The precocious sophomore has emerged as a dominant pitcher for Hackley in sweeping eight of her first nine decisions with no-hitters against Riverdale Country School, Trinity, Horace Mann and Convent of the Sacred Heart of New York.
The right-hander has allowed only five earned runs while ringing up a remarkable 150 strikeouts through her first 61 innings for a .574 earned-run average. She has been equally superb offensively, batting .741 with seven home runs and 23 RBI.
“The numbers she is putting up are video-game numbers,” Holtz said. “They’re insane.”
Hegarty gained invaluable experience as a member of Holtz’s Lady Fury travel team. She is scheduled to compete in Prague this summer as a member of the Irish National Team.
All of this is hard for even Hegarty to wrap her arms around. “Everything is going very fast, especially this season with the strikeouts and everything,” she said. “That kind of shocked me.”
Margaret Scarcella, Hackley’s veteran coach, knows a special talent when she sees one. “You do see people like this, but they don’t come around very often,” she said. “To me, what makes it more special is she’s a down to earth kid. None of this has gotten to her head. She’s very humble, always putting the team first.”
Hegarty’s success reflects her dedication to the sport. “I just love it,” she said. “I practice for the school team five or six days a week. I do outside training. I work out two or three times a week. I do hitting and pitching lessons, so I work a lot at it.”
The Hackley ace throws four pitches – fastball, changeup, curveball and rise ball. Her fastball has been clocked at 63 miles per hour, an extraordinary speed for the scholastic level, and she has developed a great understanding of the art of pitching. With more experience and physical maturity, there is no telling how high is high for her.
“If you can be accurate and change speeds and have movement,” said Scarcella, “that’s the real deal.”
Hegarty’s devotion to offseason conditioning at Game On 13 has resulted in increased strength that allows her to be overpowering. “It’s not just arm strength and it’s not just whip. It’s the way the entire body moves,” Holtz said. “Girls’ softball is different from baseball. You need more explosiveness out of your lower half when you push off the rubber.”
When Hegarty finds herself with baserunners aboard, she relishes that pressure and takes her game to another level. “That’s kind of always been my thing. I get into tough situations, but I get out of it,” she said. “I’m known for that, I think.”
Hegarty’s goals are high. She hopes to lead Hackley to the Ivy League title and then to the championship of the New York State Independent Schools Tournament. She intends to go on to pitch at the Division 1 level and Holtz is exploring Ivy League possibilities on her behalf.
“For me, it’s all about setting your life up once this game is over,” he said.
Hegarty’s future is filled with exciting possibilities. With softball returning to the Olympics in 2028 and with both of her parents born in Ireland, she may be on course to represent Ireland in the Summer Games in Los Angeles.
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