Softball Factory athlete, Hailey Polisano has verbally committed to play softball at the next level for the University of New Haven. Hailey, a slap hitter and outfielder/second baseman for Howell High School in New Jersey, is set to graduate in 2018.
With Softball Factory, Hailey has attended numerous events since coaches first saw her in the summer of 2013, just before she began eighth grade, including two Under Armour National Tryouts and a College PREP event in her home state of New Jersey. After attending her first tryout, she was one of the very few from the event selected to participate in the Advanced Training at the World Cup in Oklahoma and held her own.
Making tremendous strides at each event, she played with athletes from across the country at the 2015 Under Armour Softball Factory Fall Classic, and later, found success at Softball Factory’s biggest event, the All-America Pre-Season Tournament, receiving the honor in 2016 and 2017. She even got to meet USA Olympic Gold medalist and softball legend Jennie Finch at last year’s All-America Pre-Season Tournament.
Hailey has been playing softball since the fifth grade, and has been in love with the sport ever since. Polisano, who also runs track in high school, has credited that for helping her stay in shape for softball. She loves to run, making the outfield her favorite place to play on the field.
As a sophomore in high school, Hailey blossomed into a key player for the 2016 Howell Rebels. She batted .385 with five walks, three doubles, 12 RBI’s, 25 total hits and 18 runs scored. This past season, Hailey’s bat helped lead the team to a 15-6 record, posting a .352 batting average with 12 walks, a triple, double, six RBI’s, 19 total hits, 12 runs scored, and an on-base percentage of .640.
With success on the field and in the classroom, the time came for Hailey to begin the grueling process of recruiting, one in which Hailey has relished. After many college visits, Hailey found comfort in her decision to commit to the University of New Haven. She visited New Haven six times, loves her new coach and the connections the university has for her major – Music Production & Recording Arts – made it an easy decision.
“It was a good all around fit for me,” said Haley. “Everything I wanted in a college, New Haven had it.”
Hailey remained proactive throughout the recruiting process, putting a plan in place for her college visits to get on the radar of coaches, something that got her noticed with New Haven.
“She did everything the right way,” said Julia Rice, Hailey’s Player Development Coordinator. “Hailey looked at her major first, then looked at softball. There were many schools who liked her, but didn’t have her major. It shows a huge sign of maturity for her to look at majors first and what she wants to do with her life, and then look second at the softball program. Every week she was emailing coaches and calling coaches.”
“I think by having a good resume, it gave her the courage to go in front of a coach and say “Come watch me, I’ve got what it takes. Softball Factory thinks so,” said Hailey’s mom, Regina.
The process Hailey went through was made much easier because of her work with the Softball Factory, helping to shape her into the player she has become.
“They gave me the skill set of a D1 recruit,” said Haley. “I had maybe four or five D1 schools recruiting me, and I could never have gotten to that point without what the coaches of Softball Factory gave me.”
To parlay what she learned from Softball Factory coaches, the College PREP event she attended provided her a huge recruiting tool; that being a recruiting video.
“I was able to send out reliable information to coaches and get on their radar,” Haley recalls from her video. “It definitely opened up a lot of doors for me.”
Working on her slapping and getting faster are areas for improvement, but understands that every facet of her game will be a constant work in progress.
“You’re never the perfect player, and there is always someone better then you,” said Haley. “You’re always looking to get better.”
Hailey’s favorite event attended with Softball Factory happens to also be the most challenging one she attended.
“Oklahoma was my first player development event ever, and I didn’t know it was an advanced event,” said Hailey. “ (Coach Lea Ann) Jarvis definitely worked us, it was hard because I wasn’t used to that, it was 110% all the time. It was a great experience that I loved because I knew it would make me better.”
Hailey recalls her time at the 2015 Under Armour Softball Factory Fall Classic in Savannah, GA, where she had to quickly mesh with her teammates within two days and play against tournament teams who had been together throughout the year. They needed to learn quickly how to play with each other, but conquered the challenge and exceeded all expectations.
“We won more games than we lost, which no one thought would happen. You don’t know these girls, so you had to learn to gel with them, basically in the middle of the game. Our coaches were Leah Majeski and Raven Chavanne, which was an amazing experience, because someone who played at the University of Alabama (Majeski) who was a slapper and a slapper from the University of Tennessee and Team USA (Chavanne) and me being a slapper coached by those two players, was something I never had before.”
With her passion and dedication, Hailey has become a natural leader on the field as well.
“She has never been a quiet one, but every event she has been a part of you could she her confidence grow.” said coach Lea Ann Jarvis. “She would step out and lead with her voice but more so with her actions on and off the field.”
Coach Jarvis and the rest of the Softball Factory staff worked the girls to their limits, bringing out the best in Hailey.
“I think Softball Factory has shown Hailey that she’s not always the best player on that field,” said Regina. “There’s a better girl who wants to outwork you. It definitely humbled her. It put her into a boot camp-type mentality that she needed when she got on the field. It was an eye opener.”
Rice, who began working with the Polisano’s in 2014, immediately saw the role of leader in Hailey, always bringing a positive attitude, hustling on and off the field and taking a vocal role with her team.
“When I started working with her she had already been to about 3-4 events, and really understood what the “Factory Way” meant,” said Rice. “She knew what our coaching staff expected of her, and was an amazing leader on and off the field. She tries to absorb as much information as she can to take back home with her. She really emulates the full Softball Factory player.”
“When you go out there to a Softball Factory event, there is always someone better than you. It makes you work harder. Being from New Jersey and having played with girls from all over the country and seeing all sorts of competition I had never seen before, it was humbling. Coming from a small town like Howell and only being able to see what other competition is like in the state, I knew that wasn’t going to help me develop as a softball player.”
Those Softball Factory events gave Hailey opportunities to play against the best, further developing as a player, crucial for someone in a cold weather state where they can’t play year around.
“Coming to Softball Factory events, playing with these players, working with legendary coaches who are giving back, being exposed to all that definitely helps someone like me from the north who doesn’t play all year around.”
Hailey has not only grown as a softball player, but as a person too. Regina has seen the same thing and has mentioned to others about the power of the player development aspect with Softball Factory.
“People talk about the costs, and I tell them, it’s not that, it’s what you get out of the experience. You pay for batting lessons, it’s the same thing – you learn a skill from them. People say they get you recruited. No, they give you tools, but no one gets you recruited, you get yourself recruited.”
Looking back on the 13 events attended with the Factory, she’s not done just yet, as she’ll become a three-time Pre-Season All-American when she attends the event next January. Her hope is to someday give back and help coach with Softball Factory once she’s settled into her collegiate career.
“I am so excited for her to head off to college in a year and play collegiately,” said Rice. “With Hailey wanting to work Factory events in the future, being able to share her story to the next generation of softball players will really be special.”
“She has done everything we asked of her and more,” said Jarvis. “She has grown so much as a ball player, and it has been a joy to be apart of it every step of the way. She was always in the front, eyes up, ears wide open, and had great questions for me and the staff. She breathed it all in and ran with it! I can’t wait to she her put that uniform on at the next level and live her dream!
“I just love playing the game,” said Hailey. “I give 110% on the field, and I have fun every second.”