Her reign in the circle ends this weekend in the MHSAA Class 2A state playoff best-of-three championship series against Clarkdale at Ridgeland’s Freedom Park.
“This team is ready to get rid of me,” Hudson said, then laughed, as she laced up her cleats prior to a practice session.
Hatley coach Chris George hates to see her go. With Hudson pitching, his program is making its second visit in three seasons to the state championship series. She has compiled a 58-19 record with a 1.77 ERA and recorded 419 strikeouts in those three years.
“She’s been our No. 1 pitcher since the seventh grade,” George said. “She takes a lot of pressure off me. I know what I’m going to get every game.
“With her in the circle, we’ve got a chance to compete against everybody we play. She understands the game. I just turn her loose and let her have it.”
Hudson, who is 23-2 this season with 142 strikeouts and a 1.80 ERA, started out her career with only a fastball in her arsenal. Today, she throws a change-up, curve and rise. Her fastball was clocked at 58 mph earlier this season.
“She’s always been able to throw strikes,” George said. “She knows how to mix it up.”
Hudson believes in giving batters a variety of pitches.
“That’s a majority of what I do,” she said. “I like a mixture of fast and slow, and throwing to different locations.”
Hudson’s one of five seniors – Mallory Ashcraft, Katy Duling, Kelsey Wilson and Deanna Wright – who will play their final high school games.
“We’re lucky to have grown up together,” Hudson said. “We’re really close. We’ve all got pictures from when we played coach-pitch.”
Wright, the Lady Tigers’ second baseman, was Hudson’s catcher the four previous seasons.
“Lesley doesn’t get nervous,” she said. “We trust her and she knows we’re behind her. We know she’s going to give it her best.”