Set to be a Sooner, a little later

Softball: C. Milton Wright catcher Megan Hube will be playing for Oklahoma next year, hoping to help the school repeat as College World Series champions.

June 01, 2000|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

In front of the TV, Megan Hube could do nothing but hope and pray for Oklahoma's softball team as she watched the Sooners win their first NCAA Women's College World Series on Monday.

Next year, the C. Milton Wright graduate could have a lot more to say about whether the Sooners repeat. She could be in their starting lineup.

"You watch the game and you know all the players and you know you'll be out there with them next year. It was awesome," said Hube, who is counting the days until she leaves for Oklahoma - 68 as of today.

One of the most highly recruited catchers in the country last summer, Hube could have gone just about anywhere. Her Mustangs' career statistics -including a .505 batting average, .824 slugging percentage, 71 RBIs and 32 extra-base hits - backed by a videotape showcasing her skill and physical strength drew attention from all over the country.

However, Hube almost missed connecting with the Sooners.

"It was absolutely lucky for us," said Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso, who decided to look through a pile of videotapes during a rare late summer visit to her office. "I saw Megan's and said, `Wow, you don't see a tape like this that often.' "

Gasso immediately sent assistant coach Melyssa Panzer to see Hube play. Panzer didn't wait until after the workout - she called Gasso from the field on her cell phone. After that, Panzer stayed at the Hubes' home until 1:30 in the morning trying to win them over.

At first, Hube wavered among several programs, considering full-scholarship offers from Louisiana State, South Florida, Southern Mississippi and Troy State (Ala.). Once in Norman, she knew she would accept Gasso's offer.

"LSU was my first visit and I settled on it," said Hube, "but I had the Oklahoma visit coming up and I kept an open mind. The second I walked on campus, I thought, `This is it.' It felt like home."

Hube has been at home on the diamond since she started playing baseball at age 8. She didn't switch to softball until her freshman year at C. Milton Wright.

The transition was a little rocky, but by the time she was a sophomore, Hube had earned the starting spot behind the plate. Her .048 batting average as a freshman skyrocketed to .545 a year later.

Hube was determined to maximize her potential. Although she will study zoology at Oklahoma, she would prefer a career playing professional softball and later coaching a college team.

"I love this and to be the best, you've got to be willing to prepare. When I first started playing, I wanted to play in college, and I wanted to make the Olympic team. Those were my goals and I was like, `how am I going to get there?' "

Once Hube met former Rising Sun High coach Eddie Lynch and started playing on his Maryland Legends summer team, all the pieces fell into place. Lynch, a former catcher in the Pittsburgh Pirates' organization, provided the training in mechanics and helped market her to colleges. Hube supplied the hard work.

By the time she led the Mustangs (18-1) to a fourth straight Harford County title this spring, she had set 13 school records, including eight career ones.

Hube was selected for today's Old Line Classic senior all-star game at 5 p.m. at Prince George's Community College, but a chipped bone in a thumb will force her to skip the game.

In about four weeks, she will be back playing with the Maryland Legends, Lynch's 19-and-Under Pony League team, and playing in an unlimited league based at Harford Community College.

With her scholarship in hand, Hube is not about to slack off.

On days without a game or practice, she'll spend as many as four hours working out by herself- an hour lifting weights at the gym, an hour hitting off her batting machine and a couple more hours hitting off the batting tee in her parents' garage.

"I've never seen anyone prepare harder and study the game the way she does," Mustangs coach Joe Dunch said. "She's the strong, silent type who lets her work ethic show what she's capable of. She works as hard as anyone I've ever seen."

Hube's determination also impressed Gasso, who said she expects Hube to challenge Sooners junior catcher Ashli Barrett for the starting spot next year.

"She reminds me of Lisa Carey," said Gasso of the Sooners' junior outfielder who hit the game-winning home run in the NCAA final. "Lisa's on the Olympic B team and is a hopeful for the 2004 team. Megan reminds me of her with her training and never being satisfied with just being good."

Hube's talent is already known in Olympic circles. After filling out an application she found on the Internet and meeting the requirements for a few basic test trials, she was the youngest player invited to a regional Olympic tryout on Sept.12 at Staten Island, N.Y.

Although she didn't make the team, she made valuable connections.

"She'll make the team one day, I have no doubt," Lynch said. "I told Megan, `You can do in college what Dot Richardson and Lisa Fernandez did for the Olympics. You can generate that kind of interest in softball.' "

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