No room for softball in Clutter's busy athletic schedule Tennis gets nod over family sport

April 19, 1993|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Staff Writer

Now introducing Amber Clutter.

Speedy leadoff hitter extrordinaire.

Born to play softball. Started going to softball games at two weeks old and has never stopped.

Has good softball genes.

Her mother, Linda, has been a star pitcher for the Woodbine Curves for 20 years and has traveled to national tournaments in Michigan and Tennessee.

Her father, Bruce, pitched for the Woodbine Spirit. Her sister Kelly pitched for South Carroll High.

Her grandfather, Dick Fogle, managed the Woodbine Curves for 20 years.

So take it away, Amber, and lead South Carroll to the top of the Carroll County softball standings.

The script is waiting. But there's one major problem.

Clutter, a sophomore, is playing tennis for the Cavaliers.

Tennis?

That's right.

The daughter of a Carroll County softball legend is part of South Carroll's No. 1 girls doubles team this spring.

"Tennis is my relaxing sport," said Clutter, who is one of the three best soccer players in the county and a top basketball player. "It's kind of like a part-time thing for me."

Some relaxing.

Clutter and senior Nikki Robitaille are 4-0 this spring, and last season Clutter teamed with Brad Baker to win the county mixed doubles title.

So just how did a girl who grew up on the softball field get the idea to play tennis?

Surprisingly, it came from her mother.

"One summer I told Amber that maybe she would like to do something on her own that you don't need a team for," said Linda Clutter. "So she took up tennis. She has played some singles but doesn't practice enough to be a good singles player."

Now it's obvious that Linda Clutter would love to see her daughter back on the softball field in a uniform for the Cavaliers.

"I told Amber that since her partner, Nikki Robitaille, will graduate this year, she ought to go out for softball next spring," said the woman who is known for her ability to spray the ball all around the field as well as for her pitching.

But Amber Clutter seems hesitant about making the move to highschool softball even though she has agreed to play with her mother and sister, Kelly, on a co-ed team in Ocean City two nights a week this summer.

"I've never played fast-pitch," she said. "I don't know if I could hit the ball. In all the youth leagues, I was always the leadoff hitter and didn't get that many hits."

In youth leagues, Clutter played left field and was a pitcher. On the slow-pitch co-ed team this summer, she plans to play second and third.

For Linda Clutter, playing on the same team with her two daughters is a dream come true.

"I'm getting old," said Linda. "And they might not have too many more chances to play with me. This will be fun."

And the icing on the cake would be for Amber to play for the Cavaliers next season.

"George Dix [softball coach at Western Maryland] wants Amber to go to pitching camp this summer," said the elder Clutter. "He believes she could become a good fast-pitch pitcher."

However, softball ranks only third in importance for Amber Clutter.

Soccer is No. 1 and basketball is No. 2, even though it's the off-season for those sports.

Clutter, who turned 16 in March, made the first cut for the Maryland Under-17 Olympic Development Program soccer team, and she plays for the Glyndon Hotlegs in the Washington Area Girls Soccer League.

Clutter is also playing Junior Olympic AAU basketball this spring.

"I'd love to play soccer at a school like William & Mary," she said. "I'm probably too small to play basketball in college. And I never even thought about playing softball in college."

If Clutter makes the final cut for the Olympic Development Program, she will get an opportunity to play in front of all the top collegiate women's soccer coaches in the country.

It will also make for a hectic schedule that adds up to four teams at one time -- two soccer, basketball and tennis -- with softball ready to replace tennis soon.

A typical evening for Clutter these days is to rush off from a tennis match to Olympic Development practice and then on to Junior Olympic basketball practice.

"I do my studying after that," said Clutter of her whirlwind schedule. "I don't have time to do anything extra for school."

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