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UNC Softball: Interview with Hailey Jensen

Tar Heel 3B/C Hailey Jensen talks Duke/State, her recruitment to UNC, ACC softball, and much more.

North Carolina Tar Heels v Michigan State Spartans Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

One of my favorite activities is getting to know athletes on a more personal level. I had the opportunity to interview Carolina softball star Hailey Jensen on my podcast, Double Take with Matt and Jake. Here’s most of my interview with Hailey — it was a blast getting to talk to her, and every Tar Heel fan will enjoy reading or listening to it.

Jake: Welcome to the show, Hailey. UNC Softball tomorrow (3/8) starts conference play. How did out of conference play go for your team?

Hailey: It kind of went both ways. There were some games, especially when we first started, we got to play #3 Washington and #18 Baylor. Those were games that were really close in the beginning, then the other teams just got to pull away just a little bit and took the final win. We got to see some really great competition, and obviously we got some great wins under our belt as well. We played #17 Michigan and beat them twice, two really great ranked wins for us. We’re really excited to go into conference play and play these teams that we’re used to seeing and we kind of know the feel already, especially the returners from playing them last year. It’ll be exciting for sure.

Jake: If I’m counting right it looks like you played six ranked opponents in out of conference, which seems like a tough schedule.

Hailey: Every year our coaches really try to get the best competition that we can see. Obviously the ACC is very competitive. You have teams like Florida State, Notre Dame, and Louisville, really the whole conference is competitive. Really getting us prepared for conference play our coaches want us to see the best quality of opponents that we can. They really like to get us in the tournaments where we’re going to see those competitors.

Jake: You’re from Orange County, California. How did you get to Chapel Hill, North Carolina?

Hailey: Originally I had planned to stay in California, was looking at some schools out there. Then my catching coach said, “You know Hailey, some of the schools in the’s just different. There’s a special feel. I want you to go on a trip to North Carolina, they’re interested in you. If you go and you hate it you can come back and you can commit to a school here (California). But if you go there and you love it then we’ll make a decision from there. I don’t want you to be on the road on a team that at home maybe doesn’t have as much of a home base or not as many fans coming to the games. I don’t want you to go on the road for a team like that and play at these big schools in the South that really have a lot of people coming and supporting. I don’t want you to feel like you missed out on that.”

So I went on a visit and I loved it, I didn’t want to leave. There’s just something about the atmosphere, at Carolina especially, but just the South in general. It’s a change of pace, it’s really nice. Everything’s a little slower, it’s not as much of a rush I feel like. People really enjoy day-to-day things there more than I felt like they did on the West Coast.

Jake: Were there any other schools in the South/East Coast that were recruiting you? Or was it mostly North Carolina and PAC 12/Mountain West schools?

Hailey: The only other schools that were recruiting me from the east coast were Georgia Tech and College of Charleston.

Jake: Did you visit Georgia Tech? Or was North Carolina your only East Coast visit?

Hailey: I actually only went on two visits ever, and North Carolina was one of them. So I never got to visit Georgia Tech. My recruiting process was really fast. The summer after my freshman year I had inquiries from Stanford and a couple smaller schools. My whole life, however, I grew up wanting to go to Stanford. That’s all I was interested in so I didn’t really follow up with other coaches. I was interested in staying in California and being at a great academic school, so it was Stanford all the way. That’s the school I was going to commit to when my catching coach said I should go visit something on the east coast.

Jake: I grew up on the west coast in Salt Lake City, Utah. My mom lived in Chapel Hill for about two years, she’s a big Tar Heel fan. I learned very early in my life about the Carolina/Duke rivalry. In my mind, growing up it was Duke/Carolina and NC State was more of a little brother than anything. When I started covering North Carolina I was shocked at how much my colleagues dislike State. Losing to Duke sucks, but it’s embarrassing to lose to State. Is that a feeling throughout the university?

Hailey: That’s definitely a university feel. I think, while the rivalry is so strong, even though we hate Duke you can’t not respect the caliber of players they having, even if you don’t like the way they do things sometimes. Not that NC State doesn’t have that, but if you get beat by Duke it sucks but they’re a good team. Sometimes you can’t say the same for NC State, as bad as that sounds — if you lose to State there’s no excuse.

I think the difference is, especially the way people play in both games is so interesting. I think when we play Duke in any sport it’s very focused and it’s very intense. I think when we play NC State things can go anywhere, tensions are super high, and people have the propensity to let their emotions get the best of them. I don’t know what it is, but I feel like when we play Duke we’re locked in and when we play State anything goes.

Jake: Assuming they’re listening to this (or reading) who is your funniest teammate?

Hailey: Oh gosh that’s tough, we have a lot of funny teammates. I think (1B) Campbell Hutcherson, she’s also my best friend, she’s hilarious. Also there’s (OF/1B) Leah Murray and (OF) Destiny Deberry. Together they’re just absolutely hilarious. They’re the people who will just randomly start dancing, cracking jokes in the middle of anything. So as a group it’d be Leah and Destiny, individually probably Campbell.