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Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

He plays for the Texas Rangers, she’s a Mercer Bear — but they’re playing the same game

The newlyweds have had their share of successes and challenges on the diamond
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Image provided
Mercer softball player Hallie Langford is congratulated as she rounds third in this file photo. Langford is rehabbing her injury while her husband, Wyatt, starts for the Texas Rangers.

On one of the first truly hot days of the calendar year in April, a sign of the impending Georgia summer, the Mercer softball team lost 5-0. Hallie Langford didn’t take a single pitch or field any hits, though she was on the field supporting her teammates, joining the team meeting early and often between innings.

Langford’s batting average sits at .526 for the season. An impossible number, of course, but one that will stay the same until the final out of the year. She broke her ankle in a game Feb. 14, ending her season just five games after it began.

It was not the start she wanted, especially when her team is fighting for the regular season Southern Conference title, but the injury is just the latest on a laundry list of big changes that the outfielder has approached zealously.

It’s her first year at Mercer after transferring out of her home state of Florida, she just got married in December and — perhaps most incredible of all — her husband is the starting left fielder for the Texas Rangers.

A meteoric rise

Hallie and Wyatt Langford in the Texas Rangers dugout. Hallie is a softball player at Mercer, while Wyatt plays DH and OF as a rookie for the Rangers. (Image provided)

Wyatt Langford became the talk of the Rangers organization and much of the majors last summer after the team drafted him fourth overall in June. Wyatt, on an almost-unprecedented tear, proceeded to slug his way through the entire minor league system in just eight short months, capping his rise off with a 1.137 OPS and six home runs in spring training.

None of it surprised Hallie, who’s known Wyatt since they played T-ball together.

“We grew up together in Trenton (Florida) and have known each other since we were very little, “ Hallie said on Mercer’s softball diamond, a sizable pair of iridescent sunglasses shading her face. “From there we just stayed together.”

After high school, Wyatt joined the baseball team at Florida, where he did the requisite waiting freshman athletes often do. After playing in only four games his first year in 2021, he took off in his sophomore year with 26 homers — that’s a Florida single-season benchmark — and All-American nods from multiple outlets.

“He didn’t get the start he wanted his freshman year, so he went and put the work in, and he had a lot to prove his sophomore year. And he went and proved it,” Hallie said. “Then he turned around and did it again.”

Another successful year for Wyatt in 2023 led to the Rangers selecting him fourth overall in the MLB Draft, and the rest was history.

“He’s had a lot of pressure on him… but I don’t think that changes who he is. He doesn’t let that get to him, and I think that’s one of the things I respect about him,” Hallie said.

While Wyatt tore his way through the minors, though, Hallie underwent a significant change.

She was in a similar situation when she started at South Florida, redshirting for the Bulls her first year before hitting .278 in 2022. But as Wyatt broke out, Hallie found less success but still contributed for South Florida in 2023, then transferred to Mercer after the season.

Before spring training for Wyatt and the 2024 season for Hallie, however, there was some important business to take care of. The two childhood sweethearts were married in December.

“We’ve known each other my whole life. We started hanging out in the 8th grade and it’s been history from there, really,” Hallie said.

Then came the unexpected: Wyatt’s killer spring training. The 23-year-old drew comparisons to contemporaries including Mike Trout and Mookie Betts, clubhouse sources told news outlets. He was named to the Opening Day roster with relative ease, to the surprise of many.

Hallie was not among that group. As she got ready to play a full college softball season outside of Florida for the first time, she looked on with pride and stoicism. The latter of those is a trait she says Wyatt shares, though she admits that the emotional veil dropped a bit when he was torching pitchers in the Cactus League.

“He stays the person that he is no matter what. It was great watching him make the team, although we’re kinda the same person, we don’t really get too excited,” Hallie said as she smiled. “It was great, though, you could really see how excited he was, and no one deserves it as much as he does. All the work he puts in that no one sees, it was great to see that pay off.”

Hallie made it to Texas for Wyatt’s big-league debut, which she called a wild experience. She got to go inside the clubhouse, posing for pictures in front of a real MLB jersey with the last name she’d just taken as her own that winter plastered on the back.

“The crowd was insane. Just seeing him out there with the big guys is unreal, like he’s almost not even a real person looking out there at him,” Hallie said. “It’s just fun to see him laughing, smiling and having a good time, and seeing his dream come true.”

She wasn’t able to watch Wyatt when he came to Atlanta and faced the Braves, but Hallie seemed content to join the Bears in Chattanooga for a series instead, even though she won’t be able to play.

And therein lies the crazy contrast of the situation for the Langfords — just as Wyatt’s star was rising, Hallie suffered the biggest setback of her career.

Leading without playing

Hallie’s broken ankle came while she was knocking the cover off the ball. Though it came in an admittedly small sample size, her statline made an already tough blow a bit more difficult.

“It’s really tough, and it was just a bad way to get started here at Mercer. Especially because we have a really great team here,” Hallie said.

She’s not wrong. The Bears may sport an overall record hovering around .500, but that’s only because of a tough out-of-conference slate. Mercer is in second place in the Southern Conference at the end of April, and they just won that series against Chattanooga, the only team ahead of them.

On the day Hallie talks about Wyatt and herself, the Bears’ shutout home loss to last-place ETSU certainly seems like an aberration. It makes Hallie want to get back on the field even more to help her team.

“I just have to keep the same energy, keep trying to help the girls and lead in any way I can even when I can’t play,” Hallie said.

Whatever Hallie and the Mercer coaches are doing, it’s working. The team has four qualified players batting over .300. Tori Hedgecock is a force to be reckoned with, as she’s notched an eye-popping .512 on-base percentage while racking up 17 home runs.

As the season winds down and the Bears eye the Southern Conference tournament, Hallie is as dedicated as ever.

“Showing up every day and not letting what’s going on with me come with me is important. Just hyping everyone up,” she said. “I think our expectations are very high… all we can do is go up from here and have each other’s backs. We know the team we are.”

It’s also been an exchange for her. The team has had her back, too, as she recovers from injury and spends a full season outside of her home state.

“All in all, with everything, I’m just so thankful for this team. More than I ever imagined I could be, I think,” Hallie said. “Just very thankful.”

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