East Surry softball coach Randy Marion knew Emily Cummings was destined for greatness during her first session of batting practice with the Lady Cardinals’ high school team.
Four years later, Cummings wraps up her career as arguably the greatest hitter in East Surry softball history.
The Lady Cardinals didn’t reach their ultimate goal in 2016, bowing out of the state tournament after a 5-4 loss to North Stanly in the fourth round, but Cummings’ was stellar along the way. She starred on the mound and powered the East Surry offense at the plate.
As a four-year starter on the varsity team, Cummings now holds nine East Surry hitting records, six of which will be listed in the NCHSAA record books. Her rare combination of power and high average powered Cummings to these milestones.
“(Coach Marion) told me Tuesday right when the season was over about all the records,” Cummings said. “I’m still disappointed with how our season ended, but I’m very glad I was able to accomplish something like this.”
Cummings is East Surry’s all-time leader in hits (160), batting average (.491), RBI (145), home runs (16) and doubles (48). She also holds single-season records for hits (52 in 2016), batting average (.565 in 2014) and doubles (14 in 2015), and shares the single-season home run record with two other former Lady Cardinals (nine in 2016).
The home run records surprised Cummings when she received the news from Coach Marion, because she doesn’t consider herself a home run hitter.
“I don’t try to hit the ball out at all. I just try to hit the ball hard, and see what happens from there,” Cummings said.
She hit in the middle of the lineup all four years at East Surry. As a senior, she was in the the three-hole for a Lady Cardinal team that averaged 8.5 runs per game. She hit .515 with her record-tying nine home runs, and her power surge during the 2016 season was a nice addition to her offensive attack.
“It’s just so impressive because Emily doesn’t beat out a ton of infield hits. To have that high of a batting average and not be what I would call a speedster, it just shows how talented she is,” Coach Marion said.
None of these records would have been possible without Cummings making an impact during her freshman season at the varsity level. She finished the 2013 season second on the team with a .434 batting average and led the Cardinals with 29 RBI.
The coach of that team was Derrick Hill, and Cummings remembers advice the former Lady Cardinals’ head coach provided her that helped get her career on the fast-track.
“He told me once I made the varsity team that I could no longer act like a freshman,” she said. “My sister (Kristen Cummings) was on that team too. Her and all the other senior leaders really helped me that year. It made me want to do the same for the young girls on our team this year.”
In addition to these records, Cummings has two 21-game hitting streaks on her ledger. She was an all-conference selection all four years and co-conference Player of the Year during two of those seasons.
She was also a three-time all-region and all-state selection, and her final high school at-bat was a two run homer in the top of the seventh that helped keep East Surry’s season alive for three more at bats.
“It was awesome, but at the time I was still focused on coming back and winning. It was the first time I hit a home run and didn’t smile,” Cummings said.
After working back from arm surgery her freshman year, Cummings became East Surry’s starting pitcher during her sophomore season and held that role for the final three years in Pilot Mountain. She finished second on East Surry’s all-time wins and strikeouts list.
This fall, Cummings will head to Florida Southwestern State College, a two-year school located in Fort Myers, to continue her softball career. The Lady Buccaneers recruited Cummings as a pitcher, but she’s hoping to work her way into the lineup and continue tearing the cover off the baseball.
“The focus is to pitch,” Cummings said. “But I just love to hit. The coaches have told me they’re going to give me a chance to keep hitting when I get there.”
Reach Jackson at 415-4702 and on twitter @jacksonfuller16