Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Sports

May 23, 2014

GC Softball: Hubbard Lady Jags work hard on and off the field

HUBBARD — Jasmine Parks got her “Somebody” shirt this week.

She had to earn it — just like every player on the Hubbard softball team.

 But you can't earn the shirt by driving in runs or striking out opponents. You could have a batting average of 1.000 and not get a “Somebody” shirt.

There's plenty to motivate the Lady Jaguars on the field these days. After sweeping Dodd City last week in the playoffs, Hubbard entered this weekend facing Bosqueville in China Spring in the Region II-1A finals, a step away from Austin and the state tournament.

Hubbard's Friday night game was past the Daily Sun's press time and the result can be found on corsicanadailysun.com. It's a three-game series with Game 2 and possibly Game 3 being played Saturday.

Hubbard is loaded with stars, and every player on this team has had a big part in the Lady Jags' run in the playoffs, and everyone has earned a “Somebody” shirt along the way.

“I was really happy to get the shirt,'' said Parks, who played softball this spring and also ran on the track team and was a big reason Hubbard's 4x200 relay team took third place in the state meet. “I felt out of place when I didn't have the shirt.''

It's just part of the way they do things at Hubbard, where the only way you can earn a shirt is to do an act of kindness, and it needs to be a random act of kindness.

Parks doesn't even know what she did to earn the shirt.

“They need to do a random act of kindness and then someone at the school comes to me to tell me what they did. They never know who told me what they did,'' said Hubbard Coach Mike Saucke, who uses a variety of ways to help his kids grow off the field.

At the beginning of the season, Saucke handed out a story about Somebody and Somebody Else, and the heart of the story is simply this: Don't wait for somebody else to do it. You do it.

“If you see some trash on the ground don't walk by thinking, 'Oh, somebody else will pick it up.' You be the somebody who picks it up,'' Saucke said. “You should go through life thinking that way. You should be the somebody who does it.''

The kids who go to school at Hubbard know the softball players, and they have seen the softball kids walking to the field, and stopping to pick up debris along the way .

“It's the right thing to do,'' catcher Amy Anz said. “Don't wait for somebody else to pick it up. We all do it.''

It carries over to the field. Saucke will often cheer on his players by saying, “Make the play. Don't wait for somebody else to make the play, you go ahead and make the play.''

It's subtle, but it is one of the reasons this Hubbard team is so successful. They share a bond on and off the field, and the fact they do things to help the community is part of their character.

The Hubbard kids know all about helping out. They even have shirts that read RAKCUT — that stand for “Random Acts of Kindness being Courteous, Unselfish and Trustworthy.”

They have had cleaning projects this year where they cleaned the up after a Lil Dribblers tournament, and cleaned up the middle school, and before the district schedule set in, the Hubbard softball team picked up the debris and trash along Highway 31 every Saturday.

The two-mile stretch along 31 between the school and town is probably the best taken care of piece of highway between Waco and Corsicana.

“At first I was like, 'Dang! It's trash day,'' said senior center fielder Nakaila Banks. “But it's all right now. It's good to be helpful.''

Anz said they take pride in what they do.

“Softball is second to all of that,'' she said. “I think it all comes back to taking pride in the community, and having pride in the team. When we are picking up trash along the highway we wear our shirts and they're tucked in we take pride in doing it. People drive by and they know us now. Some people wave.  We are a team.''

Last week, Hubbard had to come back in both games to beat Dodd City, and there was a resolve and a confidence in each other that these kids have on the diamond.

“I think it does carry over to the team,'' said Hubbard's ace Olivia Curtis, who went the distance in the doubleheader last week. “We are better for it.''

The Hubbard Way has grown over the years, and these seniors all understand what it means to go above and beyond the softball diamond.

“It started two years ago,'' Coach Saucke said. “But we did things more often last year and this year. If people call us we will help. We have helped clean and helped with the food bank distribution. I want them to do things because it's the right thing to do. It's tremendous. It teaches them respect. When they walk from the school to the field every day for practice they will stop and pick up trash. They just do it naturally now. You field the ball, you get the hits, but you are more than a softball player.''

The players on this team know that, and understand the importance of giving back to the community and being the “Somebody'' in life.

“It's bigger than us,'' said Curtis of the Hubbard way of doing things off the field. It's that very idea that defines The Hubbard Way, and this team.

 “It's the base of our team,'' Curtis said. “It's our building block.''

The kids understand why they do what they do.

“I think it's good that we don't do it for recognition,'' said Mike's daughter Kate, who was the Golden Circle Player of the Year when she was a sophomore and is having another monster season. “We do it because it's the right thing to do. You're not always going to be a softball player, but you are always going to be a human being.''

Some teams never come together, while others find a connection on and off the field, and there's no doubt that this Hubbard softball team has that connection.

“Before we started picking up trash I never thought about it,'' said senior first baseman Megan Walter. “But it does make us closer. You will see the whole team working together. We're representing the school and the community as a team.''

Coach Saucke and his kids will all tell you they have grown because of being “Somebody.”

“I think it does teach us respect. And when we are picking up trash along the highway, it's not a chore. We're all doing it together and it's fun,'' said left fielder Hailey Davidson.

It's a unique group. Hubbard lost its assistant coach Sam Scribner, who took a job near Houston just before the season started, but Saucke has handle this year's team by himself. He coaches at third base and one of senior players — such as his daughter Kate, Anz or Curtis coaches first base.

He can leave practice and his kids will run the practice themselves, running drills, fielding hitting etc. The entire team has a solid GPA, and four of the top 11 students at Hubbard play softball. Kate Saucke, who has a 102.27 grade that translates into a 4.2 GPA, is the top-ranked student in this year's graduating class. Anz, who has a translated 4.1 GPA, is No. 2. Curtis is No. 9 and Parks is No. 11.

All of them respect the team and the shirts that read “Somebody.”

Coach Saucke wears his green “Somebody” shirt to games. Green is part of the Hubbard Way, too. The girls wear green ribbons in their hair and green shoes.

“Green means go,'' said Coach Saucke. “Green is a great color. Just ask somebody to think of something green and they will always come up with something good that makes them happy. We wear green because it means go. It means fast.''

The Lady Jags have been going strong all year and have marched their way into the Region II-1A finals with confidence, a team chemistry that is unrivaled, tough pitching, clutch hitting and a belief in something bigger than themselves — the belief in being “Somebody.”

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