By DOUG DONNELLY
OTTAWA LAKE – Whiteford coach Kris Hubbard got a surprise Saturday, but it wasn’t by the Bobcats winning the Whiteford Softball Invitational.
The state-ranked Bobcats dominated the day, beating Blissfield (11-0), Erie Mason (13-2) and Riverview Gabriel Richard (9-2), in winning the championship. The surprise came after the tournament when about 40 of her former players surrounded her on the field to celebrate her 41 years of coaching the Bobcat softball team. The post-game ceremony included the announcement of the creation of a scholarship in her honor and that future tournaments will be know as the Kris Hubbard Softball Invitational.
“People and memories are the best part of coaching,” Hubbard said. “It means a lot. I always tell the kids – this is about people and the relationships you develop. That’s the fun part for me.”
Hubbard has previously announced this will be her final season as the Bobcat head coach. Whiteford is off to an 18-1 start after Saturday’s three wins. Lindsey Walker pitched up three wins, striking out 17 hitters in 13 innings of work. She threw a one-hitter against Blissfield and two-hitter against Erie Mason.
Karsyn Berns-Moore led the Whiteford hitting attack with seven hits, including a double and triple, and scoring five runs. Milly Iott and Baylee Baldwin each had five hits and three RBIs. Madison Durden collected four hits, three runs and three RBIs and Jessica Link had three hits and four RBIs. Walker had three hits and four RBIs and Katie Lipp had three hits, including a triple, and four RBIs.
Berns-Moore, Baldwin, Iott, Durden, Link, Walker and Lipp are part of a senior class that has spent four years with Hubbard on the Whiteford varsity.
“They all constantly want to get better,” Hubbard said. “They are not just going through the motions. If they have a bad at-bat, they are out here working on the batting tee. That’s not normal. They keep working and want to improve.”
Holly (Schmidt) Bunge was one of the former players to watch the tournament, then help Hubbard and the community celebrate.
“Her commitment to his community is unbelievable,” Bunge said. “It’s not just in this sport, but all of the sports and teaching and everything she has done for Whiteford. She sets a great example and stresses that you have to be a good person, not just a good softball player.”
Wendy (Adams) Koch was four-year player for Hubbard in the 1990s and still holds several Bobcat softball records. She currently coaches softball in Sylvania, Ohio, and said she sees a lot of Hubbard in her coaching style.
“She has taught me so much, beyond being a player,” Koch said. “I find myself imitating her all of the time. She taught me how to relate to my own players, my own daughters.”
The 18-1 Bobcats will play at Sand Creek Monday and host Clinton on Wednesday.