By John Burton
ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS – With the recent completion of its third winning, championship season, it’s the end of an era for the Henry Hudson Regional School’s Lady Admiral softball team.
With a record of 34-1, over the last three years and all pitched by the same team member, most of the middle school team’s starting lineup, made up of mostly of eighth-graders have aged out of the team. The coach that has been with them for the three years also has decided to step down from her coaching responsibilities.
The Lady Admirals have been division champions for the 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons.
“It’s been a great three years with a great bunch of girls, the entire team,” coach Kathy Nolan said.
Most of the girls will be moving up to the Henry Hudson Regional School’s varsity team next year, Nolan said.
The team has students from the sixth grade, who attend the Highlands and Atlantic Highlands elementary schools, and seventh- and eighth-graders.
Nolan said many of the girls were strong players, effective hitters and good base runners, but what makes the difference for a team, is the pitcher and catcher.
“If you have a good pitcher and catcher, you’re going to win the game,” she said.
For the past three years the Lady Admirals had the benefit of the same duo, contributing to a record with only one loss.
Kamryn Hubeny and Emma Curry, both 15 and Atlantic Highlands residents, have been the team’s starting pitcher and catcher combo for the three seasons. The girls have been together – downright inseparable – since they were 5 and playing T-ball, according to Kamryn’s dad, Adam Hubeny. “These two, they’re like Butch and Sundance.”
The girls acknowledge having shorthand communication and an ability to seemingly read each other’s minds when they’re on the mound and behind the plate.
“Usually, whatever I think I’m going to throw,” Kamryn said, “she (Emma) calls it. She just knows.”
She also knows when to ask for a fast pitch or what Kamryn called her changeup pitch, her most effective, that is slower than her fastball “so it psyches the batter out.”
“It is kind of the catcher’s job to make the pitcher look good,” Emma said.
The two credit Nolan with the team’s success over the last three years.
“She always tried to push us to do our best,” Emma said. But Nolan “wasn’t always so serious. She liked to win but she always kept it fun.”
Nolan, who is a special education teacher at Henry Hudson in Highlands, has been coaching the middle school girl’s softball team for seven years. She is stepping down for personal reasons.
She knows the team deserves recognition. “I don’t know many teams that have gone that many years with one loss,” Nolan said.
Nolan said she will truly miss coaching and expects that feeling will really kick in when the season rolls around again next year.
She hopes she has not only instilled an appreciation for the game and taught her players the basics of the game, but also that they take away some life lessons from their years playing together.
“I teach softball but I also teach respect, responsibility, and learning to just be part of a team,” she said.
While this chapter is ending, Nolan said she “hears there are some really good players moving up into the sixth grade. A new coach should have a team to work with.”
And, maybe the makings of a new dynasty.
Emma will continue her education at Henry Hudson while Kamryn will attend Marine Academy of Science and Technology (M.A.S.T.) on Sandy Hook. She will be able to continue to play sports at Henry Hudson, allowing the duo to continue playing together on the school team.