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Huckabee inks with Southern Union

LINDEN — The Lady Longhorns saw their third senior sign a scholarship offer Tuesday when Abbey Huckabee inked an agreement to play for Southern Union Community College.

“They’re getting a great kid,” Marengo Academy head coach Todd Mathis said of the Lady Bison’s acquisition of Huckabee. “She’s got a rocket launcher for an arm at third. She’s a lockdown defender on the corner. She’s a big-tim power hitter. She can go yard on any field at any time. If you make a mistake to her, she’ll make you pay for it.”

While Southern Union coach Brian Pittman aprreciates that Huckabee is a multi-dimensional player, he reported being most impressed with the senior slugger’s ability at the plate.

“The first thing that jumped out to me about her is her power,” Pittman said. “She’s someone we’d like to come bat in the middle of our lineup.”

Pittman said Huckabee’s immediate role on the team will require her to be versatile.

“She’s got good hands. She can move a little bit. She’ll probably have to play both first and third (bases) for us and possibly in the (designated hitter) slot, too,” Pittman said. “So she’s going to play three different roles for us.”

Huckabee’s collegiate commitment may see her step slightly outside of her comfort zone on the field, but the transition off the field will be made considerably easier by the presence of long-time teammate Michelle Pritchett, who signed with SU in late February.

“It was really exciting just to know me and Michelle get to go together,” Huckabee said.

That fact also makes the move easier for Huckabee’s parents, Larry and Sonya, who are watching their oldest child ready to leave home.

“It gives us a sense of security that Michelle will be there,” Larry said.

The commitment pushes aside one of the major distractions Abbey faced during her senior campaign.

“It’s a big relief,” Abbey said of the signing. “You don’t have to worry about it anymore.”

“She’s been playing all her life, since about the fifth grade,” Larry said. “It means a lot to us that (Pittman) gave her the opportunity (to continue playing).”

While Abbey has her early collegiate plans solidified, she has yet to succumb to complacency.

“There’s lots of things you still have to work on. I know there’s things I still have to work on,” Abbey said. “Your batting can always improve. You never can get enough outs (defensively) or enough base hits (offensively).”

Abbey is the third of the team’s Class of 2009 to make a college commitment, joining Pritchett and catcher Amber Walker, who signed with Faulkner State Community College in February. Starting center fielder and three-hole Chelsea Etheridge has yet to announce an intention to continue her playing career.

“It’s going to be hard to say ‘bye’ to this group of kids here,” Mathis said. “I’ve been around this group of kids since they were 12 years old. But they deserve everything they’ve gotten. They’ve worked hard for it.”