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Chesapeake’s Huff will play at U. of Rio Grande

CHESAPEAKE – Kristen Huff really wasn’t looking for some place to play college softball.

Wednesday, May 23, 2001

CHESAPEAKE – Kristen Huff really wasn’t looking for some place to play college softball. But the University of Rio Grande head coach Dan Shane made her an offer she couldn’t refuse.

Huff, the Chesapeake Lady Panthers senior catcher, had plans to attend the University of Rio Grande and major in education. That’s when Shane entered the pictured and convinced her to sign a letter-of-intent with his program.

"Initially I wasn’t going to play. I was just going to go to a good education program," Huff said. "Then a couple of weeks ago the coach (Shane) calls and said he could help me out financially if I played."

Rio Grande, in the rebuilding process, was just one of several schools who expressed an interest. Marshall, Liberty, and Shawnee State also extended feelers along with several smaller schools.

Huff was 16-of-49 at the plate and finished the season with a .327 batting average and a .431 on-base percentage.

The strong-armed catcher threw out 13 of 21 runners attempting to steal this season for an amazing 61.9 percent success rate.

The defensive skills are what first attracted Dan Shane. He said someone told him about Huff at a pitcher/catcher clinic and suggested the Rio Grande staff "check her out." Shane did and he liked what he saw.

"We were very impressed with Kristen’s defensive skills. She’s great blocking the ball and she has a great work ethic," Shane said.

Despite the demands and punishment a catcher faces, Huff is more than happy to remain behind the plate.

"I like being in on every pitch. It’s a big responsibility, but I like it," Huff said.

Chesapeake head coach Robb Morrison said he has no doubt Huff is capable of playing at the college level.

"Kristen has always been good, it was just a matter of playing more ball and she did that during the summer," Morrison said. "She’s one of those kids who just keeps getting better.

"She understands the game well and that’s helped her. They got a real good ball player."

Huff hit .340 while playing with the ASA Diamond Dusters traveling softball team last summer. She said her summer experiences will help her in college.

"ASA has helped me a lot so that the adjustment (to college ball) won’t be quite as hard. We went to the nationals last year and saw all those great teams. That has to help," Huff said.

Shane made it clear to Huff that she has a chance to play as a freshman, but he was making no guarantees.

"Everyone will get a chance. We have three catchers coming in. I don’t believe in a workhorse catcher. I caught for 14 years and it’s tough on the knees," Shane said.

"We had a good freshman class this year and the class coming in should be good. We should be very competitive and make a run at the playoffs."

Huff knows there are no guarantees, but she is still bubbling with enthusiasm.

I think I have a pretty good chance to play as long as I continue to work hard," Huff said.