Softball Coach of the Year: Clarke County’s Susan Grubbs
Clarke County’s Susan Grubbs — The Winchester Star’s Softball Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season — guided the Eagles to a 19-5 record.
Grubbs notched her 300th win with the program in the Eagles’ 9-3 win over Handley at Charles O. Grubbs Field on April 10.
Clarke County also honored about 40 former players and assistant coaches in Grubbs’ 25th anniversary season prior to the Eagles’ 6-4 non-district win over James Wood on March 23.
Grubbs owns a 313-204 overall record, averaging nearly 13 wins each season during her tenure at Clarke.
The Eagles went unbeaten for nearly a month, reeling off 10 consecutive victories from April 25 to May 23.
The Eagles finished as the Bull Run District runner-up, losing to Madison County 2-0 in the finals. Clarke went 1-2 against Madison, who went on to finish as the Group A Division 1 state runner-up.
Clarke County defeated Buckingham County 6-2 in the Region B Division 2 quarterfinals, but the Eagles fell just one victory shy in its bid for back-to-back Group A Division 2 state tournament berths, losing to Dan River 7-1 in the regional semifinals.
It’s Grubbs’ ninth selection as The Star’s Softball Coach of the Year.
Q. Expectations coming in?
Grubbs: I think we had expectations to get back to states and get a little bit farther and some things just didn’t work out the way we wanted. But I think the girls have to be pleased with the season. It’s a great season regardless. How many teams even get to the second round of regionals? But after last year there was definitely high expectations for us. The girls played well, they played hard and did everything a coach could ask for.
Q. What stands out about this season?
Grubbs:I told them they’re our best senior class ever. The graduating class won 75 percent of their games in the four years that they were here. But I just think how they adapted. The first day of practice — the first hour of practice Sarah goes down [with a torn ligament on her non-throwing hand]. They came out and worked hard and it was great to get her back pitching on April 9th she came back pitching. I think that they just didn’t hang it up, and they thought ‘we can still do this, and we’re still a good team’ and we had to survive a little bit without her.
Q. Any particular game that you thought was significantly important?
Grubbs: The Handley game. For me personally it was the 300th win, but [it was big] when Sarah got back in the game the day before against Manassas Park and having her back [in the circle and starting] against Handley. I know that had to be a good feeling because I know she wanted to play so bad this year.
Q. Most memorable moment?
Grubbs: Going down to Madison and we had lost to Monroe and it was Sarah’s second game back and we won 4-0 down there. We weren’t really playing great, but I texted someone saying ‘Clarke County softball is back.’
Q. Most difficult moment?
Grubbs: I guess the most difficult was when I got the text message that said Sarah had surgery scheduled for tomorrow. That was the first Thursday. That was difficult for me personally but I also had to come out and face the team that afternoon and it was all going to be how I responded. What we as coaches, Kim [Good], Paul [Wolford] and I — how we portrayed that with our sense of ‘hey this is what we’re going to do and we’re going to move on.’ It was difficult but I think it was also kind of cool to see the girls kind of feed off of us.
Q. What do you see going forward for next year based on who’s returning?
Grubbs: I told this group when they came in as freshmen I had just graduated Jordan Wolford and eight seniors. Our motto that year was ‘we don’t rebuild, we reload.’ I’ve got a good little group of eighth graders coming on, and I’ve already told them that ‘we’ve got to reload with you guys’ and the girls that I have coming back. It’s going to be a challenge but it’s fun. It’s why you do it, and hopefully I’ll see them grow. There will be different expectations as far as what they know but that’s what teaching and coaching is all about.
— Compiled by Robert Stocks