For a player who constantly questions her abilities and performance, and once weighed an early retirement from the game, Hunter Glave spent 2014 turning negatives into positives.
The 2013 Patrick Henry graduate played a key role in the emergence of Randolph College as a force to be reckoned with in Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) softball.
Picked to finish ninth in an 11-team league, Glave and the Wildcats surprised everyone by finishing third in the regular season at 13-7 in ODAC play, 27-15 overall.
Glave helped fuel that surge, batting .444 for Randolph with six home runs and 43 runs batted in, good for third place in the conference. Her 59 hits were third-best in the ODAC, her 14 doubles second-best.
She was named ODAC Rookie of the Year, First Team All-ODAC at first base, Co-Rookie of the Year with Jessica Long of Averett by the Virginia Association of Sports Information Directors, and Second Team All-VaSID.
All of this coming from a young lady who constantly questions her play, aggressively seeks to get better, and will try to survive this summer without organized softball for the first time since early middle school.
“(Randolph College) Coach (Caroline) Cubbage wanted me to take a break this summer,” Glave explained, admitting she’ll need to find her sea legs to remember what a summer vacation feels like.
While she will continue working out and meeting with her hitting coach, she will also have time to reflect on her breakout season, how she got there, and the excitement that lies ahead for the Wildcats.
Her career at Patrick Henry saw her reach the state championship game as a junior, but had its ups and downs. A 2012 lineup with six future college starters meant Glave watched more than she played, her bat her common weapon, her glove rarely used.
As a senior, there was more opportunity for a team with lowered expectations, which were outpaced by performance with an 18-3 record. It would be a harbinger for her freshman season in college, at her new home in Lynchburg, made possible by a coach who reached out to Glave at a softball camp, and made a lasting impression.
“It was a camp where lots of college coaches came,” Glave remembered. “We’d split into teams for scrimmages and defensive drills. Coach Cubbage was coaching my team in a scrimmage and I came into the dugout and we started talking, not about Randolph, but about the game, about me, and we hit it off.”
Glave laughingly remembers how a coach for another ODAC school tried to talk to her in the field while she was playing first base. In an attempt to focus on her defensive play rather than the conversation, the coach later labeled Glave “not coachable,” in spite of showing she couldn’t be distracted on the field, even by an opposing coach’s launch at a possible recruiting effort.
The initial contact with Cubbage led to Glave hearing from her again via her travel ball coach (NCAA rules prohibited Cubbage from contacting Glave directly at this point in her high school career). Later came more conversations, a visit, and the realization that Randolph College was where she should be.
None of this would have occurred, though, without a life-changing moment early in her high school days.
“I was struggling, my game wasn’t where it should be, and I got really nervous about how I would do,” Glave recalled. “I never thought I was that good. I still don’t. I thought my parents told me ‘good game’ because they had to.”
“I told Hunter she had a God-given natural ability to play softball,” said her mother, Marti Glave. “Many people commented about her ability, specifically her swing. So I said if you don’t use a God-given talent, it’s a waste.”
Glave decided to carry on, learning leadership skills during her sophomore year at Patrick Henry at the junior varsity level, learning patience as a junior, taking advantage of opportunity as a senior, readying herself to play at Randolph for Cubbage.
“Brittany Via (senior second baseman) really took me under her wing this past season, mentoring and guiding me. We are truly a family at Randolph,” Glave noted. “We may have our problems. We can fight with each other, but don’t you fight with my family.”
With three seasons left as a Wildcat, it’s Glave’s turn to mentor, as 11 new freshmen join the team this fall. She looks at all the accolades given to her this past season, still in disbelief, calling them “mind-boggling.” It’s one way she makes sure she keeps her head small, and her foot squarely on first base.
Glave is also grateful for the coaches along the way who helped mold her, from Jeff Elliott at Virginia Edge, Matt Ols, Robert Hansen and Clint Farrar at the Richmond Storm, both travel teams, to Jerry Shelton, both a travel and high school coach, and hitting coach Tommy Harrison, who Glave said had “done wonders” for her.
A grounded person is appreciative of the many who paved the way for them. From middle school to now, a sophomore in college, Glave is determined to make them all proud of her future performance.
Even if she seems to be the last person to realize just how good she really is.