Hunt a dominant force in softball

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Kaila Hunt, easily one of the top players in Greenbrier softball history, came close to never stepping foot on the high school's grounds.

Greenbrier senior shortstop Kaila Hunt, a University of Alabama signee, was the 2009 Class AAAAA Player of the Year.  Jim Blaylock/Staff
Jim Blaylock/Staff
Greenbrier senior shortstop Kaila Hunt, a University of Alabama signee, was the 2009 Class AAAAA Player of the Year.

When Hunt was a middle-schooler and just starting with a top-tier travel team out of Atlanta, her father considered a move to make the commute less taxing.

A phone call helped keep the Hunts around, much to the relief of Wolfpack coach Garrett Black and area softball fans.

Hunt is The Augusta Chronicle All-Area Softball Player of the Year because of her dominance in the infield and her four-year contribution to the area's top program.

She embraced her high school experience. Travel ball was weekend business, she said, meant to help earn a Division I scholarship offer. Hunt committed to the University of Alabama as a sophomore and signed her national letter of intent in November.

With the business out of the way early, Hunt committed herself to relationships with her high school teammates. The Class AAAAA Player of the Year is one of the country's top defensive shortstops. She'll play at a Southeastern Conference school. But for the past four years, she was content being part of a team.

"Being part of a school ball team is more like being a part of a family," said Hunt, who is a guard on the basketball team. "You get to see them all the time."

Hunt came close to shining for a different school. Kevin Hunt, Kaila's father, considered a move to Atlanta when his daughter began playing with the Vipers travel team there.

Hunt, then the football coach at Cross Creek, received a call from Black, who had watched Kaila play at Greenbrier Middle. The men's relationship goes back 15 years to when both were at Lakeside High.

"I knew coach Hunt was kind of looking," Black said. "I just wanted him to know I was looking forward to coaching his daughter."

Hunt resigned as Razorbacks coach and took a job as an assistant football coach with the Wolfpack. He has also assisted Black.

Kaila Hunt started all four years at shortstop and helped the Wolfpack reach the state softball finals her final two seasons.

She closed her high school career as Class AAAAA's top player and was among the best in the state.

But Hunt still had to expand her role this season after the Wolfpack's infield took a hit.

Wolfpack second baseman Ashlyn Masters tore up her knee before the season and sister Lauren Masters hurt her shoulder. Hunt had to direct the newcomers on where to go on bunts and double plays.

"It's not really my thing to be real outspoken and tell people where they need to go and all that stuff," Hunt said. "It was an adjustment I had to make, so I made it."

Reach Stephen Fastenau at (706) 863-6165, ext. 116 or stephen.fastenau@augustachronicle.com.

KAILA HUNT

SCHOOL: Greenbrier

SPORT: Softball

CLASS: Senior

SEASON HIGHLIGHTS: Class AAAAA Player of the Year. ... First-team All-State. ... Signed a national letter of Intent to play for the University of Alabama.

Q: Besides hard work, why have you been successful?

A: I know I have the ability to be able to play. A lot of it is hard work. A lot of it is my natural ability.

Q: What do you like about being an athlete at Greenbrier?

A: I loved playing for Coach (Garrett) Black. He made it seem like we were part of a family. He really drilled it in our head that it's more than being on a softball team.

Q: Fifty years from now, what will we all remember about this decade, the 00s?

A: Probably our 14 regions (titles) in a row. I think we just had a really good softball run. I don't think it's going to be over. There's a lot of good kids coming through the program.

Q: What song motivates you before competition?

A: We always had (Tim McGraw's) How Bad Do You Want It? Last year, we wrote the lyrics on poster board and took it with us everywhere we went. This year, we played it in warm-ups. It's been part of the softball program for a while.

Q: What is a Web site you visit every day?

A: I get on Facebook a lot; I get on rolltide.com alot.

ALL-AREA ATHLETES

The Augusta Chronicle is profiling its top performers from fall sports this week:

MONDAY: Boys cross country

TUESDAY: Girls cross country

WEDNESDAY: Volleyball

TODAY: Softball

FRIDAY: Georgia football

SATURDAY: Independent football

SUNDAY: South Carolina football

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