CHURCH HILL – Volunteer shortstop Kendra Huff signed a letter of intent Wednesday at Volunteer to continue her softball career at UVA-Wise.
“I feel good,” Huff said. “I’m excited. I really like the coach (Karen Bitter). She kind of played how I like. The campus is really pretty and close to home.”
UVA-Wise is a public liberal arts college in Wise, Va. a little over an hour northeast of Church Hill.
“I’ve been there plenty of times,” Huff said. “I’ve kind of had them on my mind since freshman year. Then, I verbally committed my junior year.”
“There are some kids you just hate to see go, and that’s one of them,” Volunteer softball coach Jackie Strickler said. “UVA-Wise is getting a good one. They really are.
“She brings so much to the table. Not only is she a good hitter and things like that, but it’s the small things. She’s a competitor. She makes things happen. Kendra leads by example. She’s going to be the dirtiest player on the field. There’s going to be dirt everywhere because she goes 110 percent. It seems like dirt finds her,” Strickler said.
“She’s the best runner I’ve ever had. She set the school record last year for steals (36) in a season. She missed her whole freshman season, but she’ll probably get the career record this year,” Strickler said.
“She’s hit over .300 every year, and she makes great decisions defensively out there. She can drag bunt, she can hit, she can even slap. She’s very versatile. She’s one of those athletes you hate to see leave because you can plug her into so many holes you don’t have to worry about her,” Strickler said.
“She can even catch. She’s a good little catcher. I’ve seen her in travel ball catch some. She can play anywhere you put her. You just don’t see that. She can play middle infield in college. She’s got good enough hands to play third. She can play the outfield,” he said.
Strickler said UVA-Wise is getting a strong, all-around player.
“She’s really stepped up,” he said. “She’ll do well. She’s one of these versatile players. If they need an outfielder, she can play outfield. She can play infield. She can play any infield position. She’s reliable offensively and defensively.”
Huff was asked about her strengths.
“I’m really fast, so that helps,” she said. “And I have a strong arm. And I know what to do. I’m really good at hitting line drives in the gaps, and my speed helps getting around the bases quickly.”
Huff said Bitter gave her an idea of where on the diamond she’d play at UVA-Wise, An NCAA Division II school that competes in the South Atlantic Conference, which also includes schools like Tusculum, Carson-Newman, Emory & Henry and Mars Hill.
“She told me either shortstop or outfield,” said Huff, who still has another season this spring at Volunteer, where goals remain. “Well, for school ball, I’d like to make it to the region and make it further and break some more school records.”
Continuing her career at UVA-Wise extends a lifelong love.
“I’ve been playing softball since I was six years old,” Huff said. “I’ve played travel ball since I was eight, every summer. It starts after school ball and ends in October. I love it. Playing that much helps keep you in the groove of everything, makes it natural. It helps you stay consistent at it. Plus, it’s just fun to play.”
Huff knows what she wants to study in college.
“I’m wanting to do special education,” said Huff, who has been involved in Hawkins County’s special education program for several years. “I want to be a Special Ed therapist and go to schools and help with those kids. I’ve been doing it since middle school. I just like being able to help them and seeing them succeed and be happy.”
Huff, who is also the point guard on the girls basketball team, said her athletic experiences will be foremost among her memories of Volunteer High School.
“I just like everybody I’ve played with and all the memories and the bonds I’ve made with the girls,” Huff said.