Ella Hurter is a noise-maker.
The Boyertown rising senior’s reserved personality may put you off the scent, but just listen. You could hear a flute — she’s first chair in the Boyertown band — the guitar, the piano or her singing voice.
She has other instruments, too.
This past spring, her left arm was a commotion creator, the most frequent sound being the thwack of the softball hitting the catcher’s mitt. Both arms got into the act standing at the plate, a heart-of-the-order hitter delivering a ping of the bat for hits and homers.
Hurter created an uproar in the pitcher’s circle and batter’s box for the Bears in an 18-4 season, Boyertown’s winningest in more than two decades. With a 1.58 ERA, 122 strikeouts and 9-2 record, Hurter was the area’s most dominant pitcher and player, garnering her Mercury All-Area Player of the Year honors.
Hurter struck out 40 percent of the batters she faced (122 strikeouts against 302 batters faced) and allowed 17 earned runs on the season.
At the plate, she hit .351 with a .596 slugging percentage, registering four home runs and 12 RBI as the Bears’ No. 3 hitter.
After announcing herself as a major player when she pitched the Bears to the PAC championship in 2022 — the program’s first league championship in 11 years — Hurter was a force from the start this spring as a junior.
“It was really exciting to come back like that,” Hurter said. “I feel like every game it got better.”
“This year when we started the season she almost just picked up where she left off,” Boyertown coach Kim Musselman said. “Last season it was a gradual rise, where this year she jumped right out.
“She grew as a player from last year to this year. She was the 10th grader who developed from the beginning of the year to the end and she kept it rolling. Her being a junior this year, she kept it going and had that leadership out on the mound and at the plate.”
End 2 | Boyertown 3, Upper Perkiomen 0
Ella Hurter has struck out her first six batters of the game. pic.twitter.com/vCy8c8VRxd
— Evan Wheaton (@EvanWheaton) April 12, 2023
Hurter appeared on Musselman’s radar as a middle school student, but she’s exceeded her coach’s expectations. It has earned her arguably the highest praise from Musselman. Formerly Kim Watkins, Musselman was a standout pitcher at Boyertown (Class of 2000) before a college career at Temple that earned her Atlantic 10 Pitcher of the Year selection as a senior.
“I don’t know that I expected this caliber. She’s probably the best pitcher to come through Boyertown,” Musselman said.
Hurter opened the season with an 11-strikeout, four-hit shutout of PIAA tournament qualifier Plymouth Whitemarsh and was 4-0 by the end of March.
She solidified the attention on April 3 when she went pitch-for-pitch with Pa. Gatorade Player of the Year Julia Shearer in what resulted in a 1-0 defeat to eventual PIAA 6A champion North Penn, the winning run coming unearned in the bottom of the seventh. Hurter struck out 12 and allowed only two hits — the 28-0 Knights’ lowest output of the season.
The game was a highlight for Hurter despite the result.
“North Penn, even though we lost, was a really good battle even though we lost in extra innings,” she said. “It was crazy. Every inning, they wouldn’t score any runs and it felt really good.”
The Bears followed with an eight-game win streak that featured wins over PAC champ Owen J. Roberts, District 1-4A finalist Upper Perkiomen and defending PIAA 6A champ Spring-Ford.
Boyertown went on to finish the regular season 18-2, win the PAC Liberty Division and rank No. 4 in District 1-6A, a major rise for a program that has fallen in the middle of the PAC for most of recent history.
Misfortune struck Hurter and the Bears with two games remaining in the regular season when Hurter suffered a broken tailbone in a car accident and she missed the remainder of the season.
It denied the Bears the opportunity to be at full strength in their defense of the PAC championship, which Hurter had her imprint all over in 2022 when she hurled a pair of shutouts, including a one-hitter in the final.
“I feel like this year could have been even better, but the accident happened,” she said.
“I felt most sad for my team and especially the seniors, and everyone who comes and watches. I felt really bad about that. And for me, it would have been really nice to play those games.”
Boyertown fell in its two postseason games, to Owen J. Roberts in the PAC semifinals and Pennridge in the second round of the District 1-6A tournament, the absence of its star a loss too significant to overcome.
Hurter’s pitching rightly garnered the most attention, but her hitting was a consistent threat as well.
“I feel like I’m an all-around player. The first two years, I don’t feel I was as confident as I was this year,” she said. “This year I felt like I came out confident, felt like I wanted to get a hit and I could do it. I’d make good contact and it kept going.”
An ‘all-around player’ is the right way to describe Hurter. Beyond the softball diamond, it fits her musical talent.
“In elementary school I started playing (the flute),” Hurter said. “I got a scholarship to start taking lessons for free so I did that for a number of years. I taught myself the guitar and I’ve picked up the piano a little bit.”
She’s stepped away from playing travel softball this summer but has every intention of coming back as good as ever for the Bears in her senior season. If her junior season was any indication, it will be tough to keep her quiet.