Special to the Okeechobee News/OHS Softball
Haley Underhill is one the veteran leaders on a Lady Brahmans team rebuilding after losing a talented 2018 class.
OKEECHOBEE — Okeechobee High School’s Haley Underhill is this week’s Big Lake Athlete of the Week for her performance in the Lady Brahman softball team’s 10-1 win over South Fork on March 21.
Underhill pitched seven innings against South Fork, throwing 13 first-strike pitches and eight strikeouts. She also led the Lady Brahmans on offense with three RBIs.
The win was Okeechobee’s first of the year and helped kick-start a three-win streak for the team. Lady Brahman coach Mary Huff says that having Underhill in the line-up gives Okeechobee a better chance at winning games.
“I was very impressed with Haley in that game,” said Huff. “We have known since having her as a freshman that she is a gamer and she is going to do everything in her power to give her team the best chance to win. She doesn’t like to lose and every game she sets pretty high goals for herself, whether that is nine strikeouts and no walks or to not strikeout or make outs at the plate. And if she doesn’t achieve those goals she is pretty tough on herself. I think that alone speaks volumes for her.”
Underhill also pitched all seven innings in the Lady Brahmans’ following game against Jensen Beach on March 22. In that game, a 5-1 Okeechobee win, Underhill struck out nine Jensen batters and had two hits.
Haley is one of the veterans on a Lady Brahman team with plenty of new faces. Following the 2018 season the team lost multiple key players to graduation, putting the program into something of a rebuilding mode for 2019.
“Losing kids like Jillian Crosby, Megan Hargraves, Lauren Bostwick, and Kassie Weldon is so tough,” said Huff of the talented 2018 senior class.” All of them are now playing collegiately. Not only is it tough on the field but also off the field. They were all great players but their attitudes, leadership and knowledge of the game are hard to replace. I have some newbies that have the potential to fill those shoes with no problems. The big part of that is getting them to believe that and buy into that.”
“I also lost a couple juniors that didn’t come back, Kirstie Crosby and Jacee Jumper. And also just recently lost a pitcher and a decent stick in the lineup in Aleina Micco. So I’m working with a whole new group of kids. It’s interesting but nice to rebuild and start from scratch, while still being able to make a good run of it. Veterans like Alexandrea Fulford, Brooke Santiago, Janel Aponte, Haley Underhill, Halle McDuffie and Lillian Henry do an amazing job leading these underclassmen.”
While in the past Okeechobee softball may have been seen as a favorite in many of their games, Huff thinks the team will flourish in their new, scrappy upstart role.
“I think that this team is capable of making a good run,” Huff explained. “Especially seeing the progress we have made this far. And another thing that gives me confidence in this group of girls is that they are hungry for it. They feel like the underdogs right now and that they have something to prove and I think that’ll be dangerous for other teams come postseason.”