WESTFIELD, NJ — Michaela Hobson can take the pressure that comes with being on the pitcher’s mound, but with this softball season’s cancellation due to COVID-19, the intensity of game play has taken a backseat to practice and preparation.

The 16-year-old Westfield High School sophomore has been keeping herself in the game, having gotten together with fellow teammates Mollie Stogner and Julia Gagliardi to practice her pitching and supporting her fellow teammates during videoconference meetings. Hobson is this week’s Ron Bansky and Associates Allstate Westfield Athlete of the Week.

She credits her coach, Becky Antonelli, for keeping the team connected even without regular game play and practices permitted.

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“She really pushed us hard and I think we needed that and even if we didn’t have a season we would have been really prepared because she helped us to work together well,” Hobson said.

The team, she said, is planning a banquet to celebrate the senior softball players accomplishments. And now that New Jersey is allowing gatherings of up to 25 people outdoors and the governor anticipates lifting a ban on youth sporting activities, Hobson hopes she may soon be able to organize a team scrimmage.

Hobson would have played a key role on the team had the season panned out without COVID-19, her coach said.

“Being the only pitcher with varsity experience, she would’ve pitched the majority of the games this season,” Antonelli said. “After watching her pitch a few times when the season started, I was very hopeful and excited to see how she would perform.”

Hobson said she feels badly for her senior teammates, who have had to sacrifice a critical season in their athletic careers due to COVID-19, but she is looking forward to celebrating their accomplishments at the upcoming banquet to be held via videoconference.

Hobson recalls that her last major success on the field with the team was winning at the Union County semifinals last spring. The game had been delayed due to rain, and when Westfield met Cranford 22 hours later, the Lady Blue Devils secured an 8-5 victory.

“We really got a chance to rethink it and have time to strategize, and then when the rescheduled game happened, we really came through,” she said.

As then reported, Hobson struck out seven batters and did not walk anyone. She scattered seven hits, and only three of the five runs against her were earned.

“I do work better under pressure,” Hobson told TAPinto Westfield this week. “It’s really fun for me. I’ve always liked it since I was little, and I’ve always wanted to try it.”

During the pandemic, Hobson said, her training includes running several miles each day, exercising with the use of a smartphone app that provides interactive workouts and pitching with her father two to three times a week.

In the winter, Hobson plays ice hockey and during the last season moved up to varsity status. Softball, however, has been her longtime passion.

“I love all of my teammates,” she said. “I’m really close with most of them. I hang out with a lot of them outside of softball.”

The Allstate Westfield Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Ron Bansky & Associates Allstate Agency. Located 502 East Broad St., the agency has been protecting local families and business owners for over 19 years. Call them at 908-301-0711 for a new auto, home or life insurance quote this week and if you mention the Allstate WHS Athlete of the Week they will make a $25 contribution to the Westfield Boosters Association! To learn more, visit ronbansky.com.