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February 2, 2013

PREP SOFTBALL: Holly Pond's Holcombe verbally commits to UAH

When Montana Holcombe commits to a pitch, that’s about the time opposing batters start shaking in their cleats. With more than 1,000 strikeouts to the Holly Pond ace’s credit before she even begins her junior season, there’s always a good chance that opposing batter will head back to the dugout with nothing more than a K.

The University of Alabama-Huntsville’s softball will eventually see that drive, determination and ferocity for themselves after Holcombe verbally committed to the Chargers earlier this week.

“I love the coach, the team and the atmosphere,” she said concerning her reasons for picking UAH. “I just love the school.”

Bronco coach Steve Miller has had the pleasure of sending Holcombe to the pitcher’s circle the past for seasons. During that time, he’s witnessed her unmatched desire to be successful at anything she sets her mind to, both on and off the softball field.

“I’ve told every college coach that I’ve talked to on her behalf that she’s a great softball player, but she’s an even better human being and better person,” Miller said. “For me, that’s more important than anything she does softball-wise. Her personality and how she handles herself is probably as much of a reason as her softball talent for her being able to commit early and for UAH to make a commitment to her this early.”

Holcombe won’t officially suit up for the Chargers until the spring of 2015, meaning she still has two seasons left in Holly Pond’s familiar green and white.

The 2011 All-State First Teamer was equally impressive in her 2012 campaign. In 41 outings, Holcombe racked up 313 strikeouts, one no-hitter and five shutouts to go with a razor-thin 1.28 ERA. Just for kicks, she also sported a .360 batting average with 41 hits, 18 RBIs and four doubles in 114 at-bats.

Now that she’s made the first move toward cementing her college plans, which Holcombe called a “big stress reliever,” the fireballer said her next step involves getting even “bigger, faster, better and stronger” before heading north in a couple of years.

Miller likes Holcombe just the way she is, but as her softball coach, he’s not about to stop her from striving for even more eye-popping results.

“If she gets better, we all get better. It makes a difference,” the coach said. “She’s worked hard all the way through to get where she’s at, but now she’s got to work on the other parts, the physical things.”

The two-time defending county champion Broncos are coming off a trip to the Northwest Regional, where Holcombe compiled 32 strikeouts in the team’s two games. The junior will once again play a huge role for Holly Pond as it battles for an elusive state tournament berth.

The Broncos will open the 2013 season at West End on Feb. 25. Their first home game will be a rematch with the Lions on Feb. 28.

“It’s going to be an interesting year,” Miller said. “If we can stay healthy, do the things we like to do and try to get a little bit better every day, we’ll be OK. It helps to have great players.”

% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 257 or at robk@cullmantimes.com.

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