01/21/04 — NL's Humphrey to play at Pitt

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NL's Humphrey to play at Pitt

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 21, 2004 2:00 PM

Kevin Davenport took a couple of practice swings and stepped into the batter's box.

The pitcher toed the rubber, went through her windup and fired a perfect pitch which sailed in right below the kneecaps.

Strike one!

Davenport went through the same motion, but took a little extra time to make the pitcher think.

It didn't matter. The right-hander went through the windup again and threw another pitch in the same spot.

Strike two!

Obviously liking what he saw, Davenport decided to crowd the plate on the next pitch.

Again the pitcher, not daunted by the subtle mental test, fired again. The pitch hit Davenport on the foot and he had seen enough. At that point, Davenport knew he wanted Hermia Humphrey in a Pitt Community College softball uniform next spring.

Humphrey, a two-sport senior standout at North Lenoir, sealed the deal Monday afternoon. The daughter of Donald and Jen Humphrey, Hermia signed a national letter-of-intent to attend the Region X member next fall.

"It's not far away from home, and their academic and athletic programs are good," said Humphrey, who plans to study teaching education at PCC. "It seems like it's going to be a good program, and I like the coach.

"I worked out a little bit with them. I like the girls on the team."

Humphrey didn't get many looks for volleyball and decided she'd rather concentrate on softball during her collegiate career. Davenport and Hawks coach Heather Humphrey, Hermia's sister, agreed she made a good choice.

Davenport said Hermia's strength is her pitching.

"She does not throw a ball any higher than your thighs, and everything is down in the zone," Davenport said. "When we were recruiting and working out with her, ninety-four of the 143 pitches she threw were to the mid-to-lower-thigh to knee area.

"You can really do nothing with that pitch except hit ground ball after ground ball."

Opponents on the high school scene already know that about Humphrey.

The crafty hurler threw a no-hitter and allowed one hit in seven other contests as the Hawks advanced to the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 2-A eastern semifinals last spring. Randleman ended North Lenoir's playoff run.

Humphrey notched 82 strikeouts in 116 innings and yielded just four earned runs. Opposing teams hit .099 against Humphrey, who posted a microscopic ERA of 0.24. She finished 15-2 and earned all-conference honors as the Hawks seized their second consecutive Eastern Plains championship.

Humphrey joins fellow signees Meredith Nichols and Stacy Andrews, who are seniors at J.H. Rose; North Johnston outfielder Ashley Woodall; and Washington pitcher Jeri Bell. Humphrey, Nichols and Andrews played together on the Pitt County Hurricanes AAU team.

"We've signed six new athletes who epitomize what we want here at Pitt Community College -- a student first and an athlete second," Davenport said. "We're looking for a real good defensive squad this year and next year, with Hermia, we'll probably be competing for the national championship easily.

"She's going to be a great addition to our pitching staff."

Humphrey will also spend some time at second base, learning the ins and outs of the middle infield.

Davenport said that junior college programs are the springboard for Division I, II and III schools. Players have the opportunity to immediately step in and produce, proving their worth once they apply to four-year schools after their sophomore year on the junior college circuit.

Other teams have noticed the improvement PCC is making on the field. The Bulldogs, mainly through Davenport's recruiting, are building a schedule that includes some of the region's strongest programs. Davenport is also confident that his strong pool of talent can contend yearly for region and national honors.

"It's my job to bring them in, give them the best education and softball education while they're here so someone like Hermia can walk into any higher-division school and show what she's done," Davenport said.