Husson University senior pitcher Kayla Merrill and her teammates didn’t expect to see interim head coach Terren Hall join them for a doubleheader against Bowdoin College last Tuesday, April 28.
That’s because Hall had given birth to her first child, Ethan Allen, just three days earlier.
“We were surprised. We didn’t expect her to come back as soon as she did. It was a good thing for us,” said Merrill, whose Eagles split the doubleheader with the Polar Bears.
“I was really sore. But I wanted to be there for the girls. I just hoped they didn’t hit the ball at me. I wasn’t moving too fast,” quipped Hall.
“It worked out pretty well,” Hall added. “Unfortunately, I missed the home doubleheaders with Lyndon [State] and Johnson [State], but I missed just the two days.”
Husson swept both doubleheaders in her absence, and Hall said that’s a tribute to the players and assistant coaches Lee Speronis, Ashley Kelley and Terry Hall, who is her father.
“The players were familiar with the assistant coaches so the assistants were able to take over without there being any issues,” said Hall who then led the Eagles to three wins and the title at the North Atlantic Conference tournament at Castleton State, Vermont, this past weekend.
Hall said her parents, Terry and Paula, took care of the baby when she returned to Husson.
“My family members have helped out tremendously,” she said.
The Husson coach said her players were excited that she finally had the baby.
“It was long overdue. They were anxious for me to have the baby,” she said.
Her players got to see her son at the NAC Tournament.
“I passed him around. They all got to hold him,” said Hall.
Hall admitted that there was “definitely a lot of pressure” at the tournament.
“But, at the same time, it was fun even with my lack of sleep,” she said.
The Eagles will take a 26-11 record into the four-team, double-elimination NCAA Division III Tournament at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, beginning Friday.
Husson will play 29-6-1 Eastern Connecticut State at 1 p.m., with Wheaton (30-8) and Johnson and Wales squaring off at 3:30 p.m.
Hall is Husson’s third coach in three years but the fact the team has gone to seven straight NCAA Tournaments is a testament to the players, Hall said.
“Three coaches in three years is not an easy transition for any player to go through. But the players have responded real well. And I had the advantage of having my father there so they already knew our coaching philosophy. That made it an easy transition,” she said.
Merrill noted that all three head coaches — Amanda Bourgoin and Kristie Hawkins were the previous two — have similar styles.
“They put a lot of emphasis on hitting. And having the same assistant coaches has helped. They have kept things consistent,” said Merrill.
Merrill said Hall has done an excellent job.
“I love playing for her. She’s laid back, but she stresses the important things and she holds you accountable for what you should be held accountable for. She is an easy coach to get along with. She has been one of my favorite coaches,” said Merrill.
Hall said she has been blessed with a “great group of girls to coach.”
She is looking forward to the tournament and said she is feeling better.
Hall is a Bucksport native and was a two-time All-America East selection at the University of Maine. She had been a volunteer assistant at Maine and at Husson.