For the first time in her college career, Logan Hawker can take a breath.

The senior for the UMBC softball team has been swamped in her major, mechanical engineering, during the past three years and change, taking 16 credits a semester.

“They’re not easy classes either, things like dynamics, thermodynamics, heat transfer, etc.,” Hawker said. “It wasn’t very easy and it took lots of hours of studying.”

A schedule and workload like that would be tough for a typical student, but Hawker is an integral part of the Retrievers’ softball team, which squeezes her time that much more.

This spring, however, the catcher/third baseman has just three classes scheduled and finally has some free time built in.

“I’m just trying to stay relaxed,” Hawker said. “I’ve had less stress with less classes to deal with and it’s helped me play more chill, more relaxed at the plate and in general.”

Hawker’s chill vibes have translated into success, as she’s in the midst of the best season of her college career to date.

Entering play April 20, Hawker is hitting .362/.406/.534 with three homers and 12 RBIs. The 5-foot-6 Hawker has already matched her career high in home runs and is well on her way to setting career bests across the board.

“I’m doing my best to stay optimistic, and the support from my teammates has been really helpful, too,” Hawker said. “The positivity on the team has helped me forget about the small things and keep moving forward. In the beginning of the season, I didn’t start off strong, but I pushed through and continued to work hard.”

Through her first eight games, Hawker was 5-for-18 at the plate with just one RBI and two runs scored. After that, she went on a tear. She has hits in 12 of her next 14 games with three homers, 10 RBIs and just three strikeouts.

“She’s been able to turn her brain off and not overthink at the plate,” head coach Chris Kuhlmeyer said. “She’s made a slight mechanical adjustment at times to help her continue to be consistent. Overall, she just looks more comfortable playing this year.”

Not only has Hawker settled into the season, but UMBC hasn’t skipped a beat. The Retrievers, who won the America East in 2019 and 2021, enters their April 20 doubleheader at Towson at 23-7 overall.

Having more free time in her schedule has allowed Hawker to make practice on a more consistent basis and get to lift sessions more frequently, a change that has played a major role in her success this season.

It comes down to consistency. The more time that Hawker has been on the field and in the weight room, the better she has performed on the field.

“Now, I do a lot of recovery,” Hawker said. “Before, I really wasn’t able to see my trainer as much because I’d always have class, but now, I see my trainer a lot before classes. I go to early reps more now because I have the time to do it. I also get to sleep a lot more because I didn’t really have the ability to in previous semesters.”

Kuhlmeyer and his coaching staff have noticed a change throughout the season in her play and in her overall demeanor. Others on the team have been more regularly at practice and getting reps as well, which has helped the Retrievers grow stronger together as a collective unit.

“There’s all these little contributing factors that have all been able to work into the success that we’ve had,” Kuhlmeyer said. “It’s definitely the amount of people and the amount of reps we’ve been able to get.”

Hawker, a native of Mechanicsville, Va., is one of nine seniors, redshirt seniors or fifth-year players on the team this spring. Those seniors helped UMBC post an overall record of 60-46 and play in two NCAA Tournaments from 2019-2021.

In addition to softball, Hawker has diligently pursued mechanical engineering on and off campus. Hawker’s off-time during winter and summer breaks has been spent as a flight test engineer with the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, which provides materiel support for those in the U.S. Navy and Marines as part of the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR).

Hawker will work full time for NAVAIR starting in June, but for now, she’s focused on closing out her college career the right way. Having support from her teammates, especially that large senior class, has helped tremendously.

Entering America East play during the weekend of April 23-24, the Retrievers are 8-3 in the conference and have the highest team batting average (.297) and second-lowest ERA (2.37) of any team in the league.

Another deep postseason run in May could be in the cards, thanks in part to a nonconference schedule that included games against Seton Hall, St. Joseph’s and Georgetown.

“I think we’re in a good spot,” Hawker said. “We played some tough teams at the beginning of the season and I think we’ve learned a lot from it. Our biggest thing is that we have to keep the momentum going through conference play. We have a target on our backs, so we just need to keep pressing forward and stay together as a team.”

Photo Credit: Chris Hook/UMBC Athletics

Issue 274: April/May 2022

Originally published April 20, 2022