06/13/04 — News-Argus Softball pitcher of the year Ñ Hermia Humphrey, North Lenoir

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News-Argus Softball pitcher of the year Ñ Hermia Humphrey, North Lenoir

By David Williams
Published in Sports on June 13, 2004 2:02 AM

Sitting with her state 2-A runner-up medal around her neck, her North Lenoir jersey on her back for the final time, Hermia Humphrey sat back and wondered just how she got here.

"I'm surprised, because when I was a freshman we were not that good," she said.

But she knows exactly how she arrived at this place -- as a big part of an eastern regional champion and the first North Lenoir softball team to play for a state 2-A title.

Humphrey knows that hard work and a lot of practice went into her prep career, which ended with her recent graduation and her team's third straight Eastern Plains 2-A Conference title.

That, and one impressive arm.

Humphrey confounded hitters at an astounding rate this season -- 135 strikeouts in 112 innings and a microscopic 0.25 earned run average. And in a part a state replete with solid prep softball pitchers, Humphrey carved a niche all her own.

It was impressive enough to name Humphrey the News-Argus Softball Pitcher of the Year.

Humphrey has managed to do more than just be a pitcher with a dominating fastball. She added pitches and mastered then in the off-season to continue to bring more weapons to her command from the pitcher's circle. She first brought a rifling heater and a solid off-speed pitch to the game.

"In the junior year, I added a drop ball," she said. "I threw that a lot and hitters got used to looking for it, so this season I picked up a rise ball."

The four-pitch arsenal made Humphrey a tough pitcher to deal with as it was. But this season Humphrey picked up an added bonus -- offense. The emphasis on the Hawks' hitting as a team ensured Humphrey that games ending 2-1 last season would end up more like 6-1.

It made her an even better pitcher.

"It was good, because last year we needed more offense," she said. "We worked on it in practice a lot. The coaches threw to us every day. I knew even if I messed up, the defense would hold me up and the offense would get us some runs."

Humphrey did her part with the bat as well, hitting .321 and driving in 17 RBI.

Humphrey credits her older sister, head coach Heather Humphrey, with showing her how to pitch as a youngster. "I wouldn't be here if not for her," she said.

The dynamic of being coached by her family member has never been an issue for Hermia, saying that on the field she is treated like every other player. Off the field, Coach Humphrey becomes big sis.

Humphrey plans on attending Pitt Community College this fall, with the intent of playing at a larger school when she finishes. Just what school she will attend is not on her mind right now.

For the moment, she is content to look back on a great career and get ready to add another chapter to it in college.