REENFIELD — On the morning of the most important day on the Greenfield-Central softball calendar, Darcie Huber found herself on a farm.
It was a Monday, and it was a bit strange for Huber to be there instead of her usual pregame haunts: the practice field or in the yard with her dad.
She hadn’t planned the trip to the farm, yet there she was, wandering around in Fortville, thinking about her most adoring fan.
If he could only see her now.
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Every time she used to visit her grandfather, he would always ask her the same questions.
“He wouldn’t even say ‘hi’ first,” Huber said. “He’d just say, ‘Hey Darc, how’s the softball going? Hit any more ‘just-abouts?’”
Huber would smile, and tell Bob “Old Sharecropper” Petty whether or not she hit another ball off the fence instead of over it.
In her first two years at Greenfield-Central, she had to admit a few too many of her long balls came up just short.
But this year would have been different.
If he had been there that Monday morning, she could have told him she had already hit as many home runs this year as she did in her freshman and sophomore campaigns combined. If he had been there that morning, she could have told him she had a feeling she might hit a couple more before the sun set on the Cougars’ season.
But he wasn’t there. Bob Petty died on June 12, 2014, at IU Medical Center in Indianapolis of complications brought on by diabetes
“He was my biggest fan,” Huber said, eyes filled with tears.
And she did him proud.
In the year since her grandfather’s death, Huber led Greenfield-Central to a record-setting number of wins, helped the Cougars clinch their first sectional championship in five years, and perhaps most importantly, turned most of those ‘just-abouts’ into no-doubters, as she led the county in home runs.
And to top it off, she was named the 2015 Hancock County Player of the Year.
Safe to assume her grandpa would have been pretty proud of Huber that day. Her coach certainly was.
“In the 10 years, I’ve been here, I’ve seen some great pitchers … and some fantastic hitters,” Stewart remarked. “But I haven’t seen that combination since I’ve been here. Darcie just had one of the best overall seasons I’ve ever seen.”
Huber was undoubtedly the best two-way player in the county.
She not only concluded the season with a .472 batting average and nine home runs, making her the county’s co-home run queen (with New Palestine’s Issy Hoyt). She also earned the pitching triple crown, leading the way in strikeouts, wins and earned run average.
In more than 140 innings, Huber fanned a Cougars’ record 211 batters, scored 20 victories and posted a minuscule 1.15 ERA.
Those numbers put the all-Hoosier Heritage Conference player in the conversation for best two-way player in the state.
Huber’s nine home runs and 211 strikeouts place her in the top 11 of each category among all players in Indiana. No other Hoosier can say that. Among other Class 4A players only, her rank raises to the top four of each.
She also showed up when her team need her most. En route to the sectional title, Huber spun three consecutive complete game victories, while hitting .545 (6-for-11) with two home runs and six RBI.
The only thing disappointing about Huber’s season, Stewart said, is that it’s over, and she only has one left wearing the blue and gold.
But bad news for Stewart is good news for Ball State, where the coaches there are one year away from fitting the Cardinal commit into a black and red uniform.
When Huber moves to Muncie, Greenfield-Central will be left not only without an impact player but the heart of its team, Stewart said. Huber’s stats are not what set her apart, it’s the grace in which she handles herself compared to other stars of the sport.
In today’s softball world, it’s all me, me, me. Look at me,” Stewart said. “But you don’t get that from her. She doesn’t like to talk about herself and what she accomplishes.”
And even better, she passes that attitude along to her teammates.
“People use that word, leader, too much in sports,” he said. “Not everyone is a leader, and that’s fine. But Darcie is the definition of the word. She’s the best player on the field, but she is the first person out there with a rake after the game. She plays every day like she’s trying to earn a spot on varsity. As she goes, they go. They couldn’t ask for a better example to follow.”
Behind Huber, the Cougars soared. They claimed an HHC title along with the most successful season in program history. Greenfield-Central picked up 27 victories this season, out-pacing the 2010 squad (26) for the all-time mark.
For Huber, that’s the motivation. The reason she goes home after Cougars practice and pitches to her dad is because she dreams about cementing her team’s legacy, not her own. What she wants is for people, years from now, to talk about her Cougars with admiration and awe.
“My motivation?” Huber said. “It’s simple. I want us to be remembered.”
Darcie Huber’s dominance this season covered both her exploits in the pitcher’s circle and in the batter’s box.
Innings pitched: 140.1
Earned run average: 1.15
K:BB ratio: 5.9:1
Win-loss record: 20-2
Games with double-digit Ks: 12
Games with two or fewer hits allowed: 7
Complete games: 12
Batting average: .472
Home runs: 9
Runs batted in: 32
Runs scored: 32
On-base percentage: .509
Slugging percentage: .842
Longest hitting streak: 27 games
Multi-hit games: 15
Extra-base hits: 22
Games with HR and 10-plus Ks: 4
Games with more hits than hits allowed: 5
Games with more RBI than earned runs allowed: 6