Junior outfielder Paige Martin takes one for her team

State Hornet Staff

If junior outfielder Paige Martin were to lead the team in one stat offensively this season, she had no idea that it would be getting hit by pitches.

Martin ranks third in the NCAA with 0.57 hit by pitch per game average and ranks first in the Big Sky Conference. In 33 games, she has been hit by 20 pitches, that mostly landed below the waist.

But with the amount she has been hit, she said it was never her goal to go out and intentionally get hit by the pitch.

“I expect to get a base hit, not get hit,” Martin said. “But I will take getting hit in order to get on base for my team.”

Coming into last weekend’s games, Martin had a double digit margin over Southern Utah University’s Madison Resley, who has been hit eight times. She also managed to break the school career hit by pitch record that was attained by former Hornet, Nicole Deatherage.

Deatherage, who played at Sac State during the years of 2001-04, was a pitcher herself was ironically hit 18 times in her career as a Hornet.

At the beginning of the 2014 season, Martin’s unlucky streak of getting hit went pretty much unnoticed as she was left on base the majority of the time. It was not until the first game against the University of North Dakota on Mar. 21 when head coach Lori Perez moved her to the second spot in the lineup.

In 33 games, Martin has an on base percentage of .482, but in conference she has a .594. Getting on base often was one of the big reasons why Perez moved Martin up to the number two spot in the lineup.

With a high on-base percentage Martin has the chance to be left on base, but she said it never bothered her.

“I never thought me wearing a pitch was not worth it,” Martin said. “I have faith in my teammates when the next time it happens, that they will bring me home.”

With the recent move up in the lineup, Martin is now ahead of sophomore catcher Kortney Solis. With runners on-base Solis is .255 (13-for-51) and with runners in scoring position is .345 (10-for-49).

The move was a strategic by the coaching staff in order to get the most out of what Martin brought to the plate.

“We moved her up because she (Martin) gets on base- it does not matter if she gets a base hit, walk or hit by pitch,” Perez said. “She is a good table setter for us and she has other great intangibles that have her at the number two spot.”

While Martin played in youth leagues growing up, she had coaches that taught her how to take a pitch.

Her old coaches would have her and her teammates stand on home plate, they would toss pitches at her. The coaches would have her move in order to take the pitch somewhere other than the knee, ankle or rib.

This season, the Vancouver, Wash. native said all the hit by pitches she has received have blended together.

“I have been hit in the ankle, the heel, the knee and my butt,” Martin said as she pointed out the spots that she was hit on her body. “The one that hurt the most this season was when I got hit in the hip against Southern Utah.”

The pitch that hit Martin was a screwball that got away from Southern Utah’s pitcher Jordan Theurer. Instead of breaking back towards the plate the ball spun away landing directly on her hip.

Perez welcomes the idea of teams willing to pitch inside and the possibility of Martin getting hit intentionally.

“If teams are willing to pitch and intentionally hit Paige then go for it,” Perez said. “It will only have her more determined to come up and to make you pay for hitting her.”

The more Martin is hit, the higher the risk of her getting injured, but for now she is all smiles and grimace as she stands on first base.