Mater Dei junior Hayley Palm spent the first two years of her high school softball career as a good hitter with not a lot of power.
After completing her freshman season with a .246 average with eight RBIs, Palm's average skyrocketed to .430 with 22 RBI for a Knights team loaded with offense as it finished the season with a 20-11 record.
Still, there wasn't much power as for the second year in row, Palm managed one home run. So with the help of her dad, Mater Dei coach Michael Palm, she went back to the basics of hitting by using a tee.
"I've done a lot of tee work. I love working on my hitting with a tee. Plus my dad pitches to me a lot," Hayley Palm said following a 10-0 win over Woodlawn on Monday. "I also work out a lot in the off-season, and being a pitcher, I do a lot of sand work in order to get stronger in my back and legs. It's all made a difference."
That extra work and becoming a more experienced and selective hitter, has made the 5-foot-2 Hayley Palm one of the top offensive players in the metro-east during the 2017-18 season. With two more hits Monday, Hayley Palm is currently third in the St. Louis area in hitting with a .565 average.
And now she has some pop, too.
Currently tied for second in the area in home runs with 10, Hayley Palm leads the area with a slugging percentage of 1.290. That mark is currently more than 200 points higher then Roxana standout Abigail Stahlhut's mark of 1.065.
Hayley Palm, who improved to 9-4 as a pitcher with her eighth complete game of the season on Monday, credits her dad for a lot of her success. Michael Palm played college baseball for four years, the first two years at Kaskaskia College in Centralia.
Because of that love for baseball, Michael Palm introduced his oldest daughter to softball at a young age.
"Hayley has worked hard for a long time. We started when she was two years old and she's loved the game ever since," Michael Palm said. "She's always been one of those players who pays attention and listens well. She's very coachable.
"She's always been a good hitter and this year, I think she's gotten a lot stronger. We've really worked on her bat speed and getting the bat through the hitting zone. She can really hit the ball a long way."
Hayley Palm, who plays second base and shortstop when she is not pitching, was a basketball player at Mater Dei during her first two years, but gave up the sport this year to work out and play softball. She hopes to pitch in college.
"Hopefully, this summer I'll start to get some offers. I'd like to pitch in college. But I just want to play, hopefully someplace close to home," Hayley Palm said. "I throw 60 mph, but I've gotten it up to 62 and I'm getting stronger so maybe. ... We will see what happens this summer."
While Hayley Palm hopes to a pitch at the college level, coaches and scouts have to like what they see in the Knights standout as a hitter. With another summer and fall to work and get stronger and with her senior year at Mater Dei still to come, the sky is the limit.
"We really have done a lot of work with the tee. It was one of the things which helped me when I played," Michael Palm said. "We work on concentrating on the center of the ball. Hayley has really worked on becoming a very good hitter. She can hit at any (college) level."
Mater Dei (13-7) will need Hayley Palm to be at her best in the upcoming Class 2A playoffs. A No. 5 seed, the Knights will host city rival Central on Wednesday in a first-round regional game. The Cougars are a No. 3 seed.
"It's been a good season, a fun season," Hayley Palm said. "If we play liker we can and continue to hit and play good defense, I think we're going to be a tough team to beat in the playoffs."