BUFFALO — There is a lot that Aubrey Hunt has accomplished in her four years play for Tri-City/Sangamon Valley.
As a multi-sport athlete, she holds the school record for home runs on the diamond and points, rebounds and assists on the basketball court. She was also recently named the MSM Conference Athlete of the Year.
But there's one thing she hasn't experienced yet — losing a conference softball game.
TCSV (21-2) has strung together a run of seven consecutive MSM Conference softball titles which includes a jaw-dropping 89 consecutive conference wins.
"I think the last time we lost in conference was April of 2011, so we are obviously happy about that and that's always one of our season goals to win our conference and then we go into the postseason," TCSV coach Brad Sturdy said. "We’ve won 89 consecutive conference games and our kids have really worked hard and that is something they take pride in. We want to make sure (winning conference) is something we do each year and keep that streak going."
Hunt takes pride in the streak, but she was a little unsure of how the Tornadoes would fare this season. Last year's team lost five seniors from a squad that made it to the Class 2A super-sectionals.
"It’s super cool to say I’ve never lost a conference game in my high school career," she said. "We knew we wanted to win conference but it was a question of who we had and where we were going to go. Even right before our first game we weren’t sure where everyone was going to play with the new freshmen on the team. Now I think it’s not out of the question (to return to super-sectionals) and that’s what we are shooting for."
TCSV opens the postseason Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. in their on Class 2A Buffalo (Tri-City) Regional against Virden North Mac.
While Hunt leads things from the plate (.500 BA, 5 HR, 29 RBIs), sophomore Kaitlynn Spain has dominated from the pitching circle with a 15-2 record and a 1.70 ERA.
"This year’s we’ve thrown (Spain) into the fire and she’s had some great wins," Sturdy said. "She walking one batter every five innings so she throws strikes and averages 10 strikeouts every seven innings. Our goal for her is that she continues to develop, increase her velocity and becomes even more effective in the future."
But Sturdy thinks that the best pitcher on the TCSV roster never actually pitches.
"(Aubrey) is a great hitter and plays shortstop for us. To be honest, she can actually pitch. She probably could be our best pitcher but then our team wouldn’t be as good because she’s not at shortstop," he said.
Standing at 5-11, Hunt makes an unlikely candidate to be an elite shortstop.
"She’s one of those kids, that people look at her and see she's six feet tall and think that she isn’t going to be mobile. But she’s really athletic, she’s mobile, she can move and she’s got a great arm," Sturdy said. "She has really developed as a defensive player and become more than just an offensive player."
Hunt feels her defensive play has improved as well, and her .943 fielding percentage this season backs that up.
"I’ve been playing shortstop since sixth grade so I think every year I’ve gotten used to it more and more," she said. "It is getting more natural and coach Sturdy has helped me a ton with how to quickly get somewhere and giving me tips on how to be more productive at short."
Hunt has been coached by Sturdy long before high school and she has come to know the coach very well.
"He’s very upbeat and very into the game all the time. He gets a little too excited sometimes and he has a ‘Sturdy face’ where he is a little upset. And I think, 'Oh gosh, I had better do good here or he’s going to yell at me'," she said.
Two "Sturdy faces" include one for players and one for umpires.
"At players it is like closed eyes and fingers on the nose like, 'Oh my gosh, did that really just happen?'," Hunt said. "To umpires, it is hands over the mouth like, 'Are you really making this call?'"
Hunt feels Sturdy's leadership has led to TCSV's success.
"He gets a lot out of us and expects a lot from us, so we want to perform for him. He knows the game and knows every little thing that maybe we would not have thought of. He’s a great coach," she said.
No matter if the Tornadoes make it back to the super-sectionals or beyond, Hunt feels her team is having fun, no matter what.
"We are having a lot of fun and it’s not always so serious," she said. "We are having a good time but we are successful so that’s what makes it even better. We are having fun and winning games."