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May 15, 2021

Wineka column: Catawba team has two Emily Huneycutts

SALISBURY — They graduated from the same high school.
They grew up about 10 miles apart and can tell you where Frog Pond, N.C., is.
They both stand 5 feet, 8 inches tall.
Both are studying exercise science at Catawba College.
They play softball and play it well.
They are teammates on Catawba’s softball team.
And both are named Emily Huneycutt.
If you’re confused, think about Catawba College opponents who often face Emily Huneycutt on the pitcher’s mound and Emily Huneycutt on third base — at the same time.
When Catawba softball coach Nan Whitley presents her lineup card at the start of the game, she immediately has to explain to the other coach and umpires that, yes, she has two players named Emily Huneycutt.
There has been a game this year — a 1-0 Catawba College victory over Brevard — when Emily Huneycutt threw a shutout and the other Emily Huneycutt hit the winning home run.
For the record, the girls are not related, though they have been friends for a long time.
The pitcher, Emily B. Huneycutt, is a sophomore from Locust.
The hitter, Emily D. Huneycutt, is a freshman from Oakboro.
Both went to West Stanly High School, and believe it or not, the school had two other Emily Huneycutts.
One of those Emilys is a junior basketball player at Methodist University, and there was a time when all three Emily Huneycutts were playing softball on the same all-star team.
Their coach — this is quite cruel — once filled out a lineup card with the three Emily Huneycutts batting back-to-back-to-back.
Imagine the public address announcer telling the crowd for three consecutive hitters, “Now batting, Emily Huneycutt.”
“It’s kind of funny,” Emily B. Huneycutt says. “We can really play some mind games with people. We have fun with it.”
Tara Gibbs, a slugging catcher for the Catawba College Indians, says the two Emily Huneycutts have quite different personalities.
She says Emily B. is strong, silent and more inclined to keep to herself. Coach Whitley and teammates call her “Deuces,” because her favorite “out” pitches are drop balls and curves for which Gibbs is usually giving her the two-finger sign.
“The other one is more outgoing off the field,” Gibbs says of Emily D. “Very bubbly.”
Teammates often call freshman Emily D. Huneycutt “Denae,” which is her middle name.
Now there are other nicknames used for the Huneycutt women, to keep them apart — though in appearance they are quite different anyway.
Sometimes Whitley and the other coaches call out “Emily Jr.” or just plain “Junior” for the younger Emily D. Huneycutt.
And Emily B. Huneycutt answers at times to “E.B.” (Her middle name is Brooke.)
“They’re great young ladies and come from good families,” Whitley says.
Emily B. Huneycutt, 20, followed her older brother Wil Huneycutt to Catawba, where he starred as a relief pitcher for the baseball team before graduating last year.
Emily D. Huneycutt, 18, says knowing Emily B. already was playing for Catawba College sparked an interest for her in possibly attending the same school.
When Emily B. was a senior at West Stanly High and Emily D. was a junior, they led their team deep into the state playoffs.
On recruiting trips to see Emily B. and during softball camps in the Stanly County area, Whitley also became familiar with Emily D.
“It just seemed to fit,” Emily D. says of her decision to attend Catawba.
The girls, who have been playing softball since T-ball and coach-pitch, didn’t have to battle the name confusion much when they were in different elementary and middle schools.
“I don’t think people recognized it until we were in high school,” Emily D. says.
So far, Emily B. has compiled a 12-6 record and a 1.75 earned-run average over 119-plus innings.
Emily D. is second on the team with five homers and tied for third with 14 runs batted in.
The girls and their team (26-13) are having a good season, still battling for first place in the South Atlantic Conference.
“Forever is composed of nows.”
Another Emily — Emily Dickinson — said that.
But was her nickname “Deuces”?

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