Most of the time when someone says, “You play like a girl,” it’s not a compliment, but if someone says, ‘You play like Abby Hunter,’ take it and run with it, because that’s as good as it gets!
Abby Hunter, a 12-year-old 6th-grader at Meadowlark Middle School, has been playing baseball for over half her life. At the age of 5, Abby played T-ball, and since then she has progressed in her abilities, and played on teams where she is the only girl. To get to the level that Abby plays at now, she not only had to have talent and skill, but the support of her parents, Brad and Shauna Hunter, and her two older brothers.
“Baseball has given Abby an opportunity to compete and direct her focus. She’s able to follow instructions well, which has helped her play to at a higher level, earning five all-star titles,” said Brad Hunter. With her excellence on the playing field, getting caught up in what is needed for the game would be easy for Abby, but her mom helps to keep her grounded. “I remind Abby that her talents on the field are a gift, not to be taken lightly. We’ve worked hard to help her stay humble, while baseball and the team environment have helped develop her confidence and character. We remind Abby that whatever you do in public, people are watching. Having talent like Abby has, is a gift, and she could lose that gift, so she should be grateful for it,” Shauna stated. Although Abby focuses a great deal of time on baseball, she knows that her education is important, and for the past three quarters she has been on the A-B Honor Roll at Meadowlark Middle. She also plays basketball for Davie Fastbreak, a girls’ team, and strength trains with Dave McConnell. But you can bet that when Abby is on the field, her priority is her team and the game at hand.
Abby sees herself as just another teammate, and is focused on making whatever contribution she can make each game. Until recently, Abby was playing on three teams, The Meadowlark Mustangs, the Clemmons Colts Travel Baseball team and the Southwest Athletics Indians, the team she continues to play on now. So, why baseball, you might ask? Girls play softball, right? For the time being, with her highly developed skills and competitiveness, Abby plays baseball, although she’s not ruling out a transition to softball to further her opportunities in high school and college. It’s her skill set that has helped to prove her abilities on each team and shown coaches how she can contribute to their teams.
Those abilities on the field won Abby a coveted spot on The Meadowlark Mustangs. After days of try-outs, with over 40 boys, Abby, was not just the only girl on the team, but she was also the only 6th grader.
For the past four years, Dave Lowe, Coach at Southwest Athletics and of the Clemmons Colts, has watched Abby continue to grow as a player. “Abby is a fierce competitor with a great work ethic. She is very coachable and always maintains a positive attitude. Her mental toughness is also something that has made her successful. Abby has been selected and played on the All-Star team the past five years, with her greatest accomplishment being her ability to maintain a high level of play in a male-dominated sport. Abby has earned the respect of her peers through hard work, determination and a true spirit of teamwork,” Dave Lowe commented. To be part of a team, players have to come together, and being the only girl on a team could cause an issue…but not for Abby.
“The guys on my teams are easy to get along with, and I’ve never had an issue. My coaches have always been supportive, and I’ve had the moms from opposing teams congratulate me for doing what I’m doing,” explained Abby. To some extent, Abby is blazing a trail for girls to come, but Abby is also following in the footsteps of Campbell Hutcherson, who played with the Southwest Little League until she was 14 years old, moving later to softball for better scholarship opportunities.
After graduating in 2016 from Forsyth Country Day School, Campbell earned a softball scholarship to UNC-Chapel Hill, where she is the starting first baseman. Campbell commented, “I experienced so much as the only girl on the team. I have two older brothers, and I wanted to be just like them, so I wanted to play baseball. I played with the same group of guys for so long at Southwest that they became brothers to me, and I knew they always had my back. My teammates never looked down on me or thought I couldn’t achieve anything they could. I’m so proud that Abby is going for it! For her and any girls who may follow, I say that baseball made me a better player, now that I play softball at UNC-Chapel Hill. I am a stronger player for sure.”
At 12 years old, Abby Hunter has a bright future ahead of her on the field and off, but, most importantly, she has the confidence and understanding of being part of a team that will carry her far in life.