RIPLEY - Chelsey Hager is a very focused young lady. The Ripley High School junior has a busy schedule and she prefers it that way.
Hager carries a 4.13 grade point average in the classroom and is taking Advanced Placement English this year. She is a member of the National Honor Society and Mu Alpha Beta, an honor society for those students with a strong aptitude and performance in mathematics.
Hager can also outthink her opponents on the pitchers mound where she is excelling this season for Coach Ken Swisher's Lady Vikings.
Hager was thrust into regular action when All State pitcher Reese Gandee was sidelined with an elbow injury early in the season. Hager has responded by putting up All State worthy numbers of her own. She has gone (10-4) with a microscopic earned run average of 1.05, with 93 strikeouts in 80 innings. Opponents are only hitting .209 against the fireballer.
Hager isn't a one trick pony by any stretch of the imagination, she is mashing to the tune of (.378) with six doubles, 13 RBIs and 10 stolen bases. When not perched on the hill, Hager plays a nearly perfect left field and has been seen scooping grounders on the infield when needed.
Hager, an All Mountain State Athletic Conference selection, took on the extra responsibility and has excelled in the dual role.
"I really wish Reese was playing. She is a big part of our success. I have enjoyed pitching and I am used to playing all over the field. I have done it since I was very young," said Hager.
Hager began playing when she was three. Her father Dana, also an assistant coach under Swisher, has worked with Chelsey over the years and it has become something special between father and daughter.
"My dad is my biggest fan. He encourages me and pushes me to be the best I can be at everything I do," she added.
"Obviously, we talk about the game a lot around the house," she said with a laugh.
Hager also has developed into a sharp shooting guard for Ripley's girls basketball team. She averaged 18 points per game over the season's final three games and has had a penchant for nailing dramatic 3-point bombs throughout her career.
"It was really frustrating last season because we didn't win a game. This group of girls we have together played for conference titles in middle school and we had near perfect seasons. It bothers me that we haven't made a run in high school."
Hager is intense on the hardwood. Her frustrations showed during a last second buzzer beating loss to Riverside in the sectionals last season. Hager took over the game for the Lady Vikings in the final minutes to keep them close. Her razor sharp focus was written all over her face in the fourth quarter. She wanted to win badly.
Page 2 of 2 - Hager feels that coach Swisher has taught her to be tough mentally.
"He teaches the mental and physical sides of the game. Not all coaches do that. He has taught me to keep my head up, stay focused and positive and good results will come."
Hager credits T.J. Edwards (Elkview), Ron Burdette (South Charleston) with helping her develop through travel ball in the summer.
Chris Jordan, whose son Christopher plays baseball at Ripley, made an impression on Hager as a coach of her 14U and Elite teams.
"He took time out with me and would hit me balls as long as I was willing to track them down. He had a part in influencing me as a softball player," said Hager.