Brooke, 21, and Paige, 18, have on matching T-shirts, sporting a softball and a Surry Community College logo. Like any young women, the Honeycutts like to joke around and have fun. But when it comes to softball, it’s all business.
“I think we could be really good this year,” Brooke said, “if we work hard at it and are really serious about it. We ended up coming in fourth at the tournament last year and that was saying a lot coming from what we had. Hopefully we can get there and beat the ones that we didn’t get to beat last year.”
Unassuming and sharp, their attire and those remarks show the Honeycutts are buying into the Knights’ fledgling softball program and are ready to make their mark. They also show a sisterly bond which has helped them to remain strong in the face of tragedy, the loss of their mother Ann this past June.
Their résumés say they will have little problem finding their place and making a name for themselves.
Brooke was a top starter for the Knights last season in Surry Community’s first ever softball campaign.
The East Surry grad entered into college softball with a NCHSAA 1A state title under her belt, a 2006 Northwest 1A player of the year award and a 2005 state tournament MVP award as well.
Paige is head coach Amber Reid’s and Surry Community’s first ever softball recruit. After being named all-conference and all-state all four seasons at East Surry, not to mention garnering a Northwest 1A player of the year award in 2008 and back-to-back 1A state titles in 2008 and 2009, she will most likely have an immediate impact on a team coming together.
Reid said it wasn’t hard to choose who she wanted to be that first recruit, with Paige topping the list.
“Number one, she is local, which I love, and she definitely doesn’t shy away from wanting to be in every situation,” Reid said. “She is a real heady player. She studies the game and is the type of person that is going to lead by example in a lot of cases. Obviously her skill level is great and she is one of the best hitters I’ve seen. She’s going to battle and give the pitcher a fit. Everybody that has seen her play knows she gives everything she has and is constantly looking to advance in every aspect.”
Paige also received high accolades from someone who isn’t easily impressed — her sister.
“She really is one of the best catchers I’ve ever had catch me honestly,” Brooke said. “I can honestly say that. When she’s in there, you’re not going to get many passed balls and no one is going to try to run on her.”
Reid, also an East Surry grad and a long-time acquaintance of the Honeycutts (her father Stan helped coach Brooke in pitching), said the duo brings to Dobson exactly what the Knights need to be successful.
“They want to play well and they want to play for teams that do well and as far as our team, they want to make an impact,” Reid said. “I think it’s one of the reasons they ended up where they did, for others to see there is a possibility for them to play somewhere and be competitive.”
Playing amateur softball in today’s world can nearly be a full-time job. With spring, fall and year-round travel leagues, players have the opportunity to make the sport an everyday fixture in their lives.
Brooke Honeycutt said softball and sports in general have been there since both she and Paige were too small to remember.
“We’ve always been active since we were little kids,” Brooke said. “We have pictures of Paige holding a basketball when she was like 1. We’ve always liked sports and been involved with sports our whole lives. We started playing T-ball when we were 5 and from there we’ve done it every year.”
Brooke said it was when their Little League all-star teams began making deep trips into the summer-long tournaments that both realized softball was something they were good enough to focus on and something they would like to give their time.
“As soon as all-stars started when we were 9 or 10, that’s when it started going all year,” she said. “You’ll have fall leagues and spring leagues and then all-stars. Then when we were 13 or 14, we started doing the travel ball teams. So you’re pretty much playing from February to November, then in December in January you’re working in field houses.”
While they both have played softball for nearly 15 years, the Honeycutts have had just a few opportunities to play on the same team. Minus a few fall ball and Little League teams and a travel team after Brooke graduated, the only season the two played together was the elder Honeycutt’s senior year at East Surry when Paige was a starting freshman catcher.
East Surry coach Derrick Hill will enter his first season as head coach of the Cardinals without a Honeycutt on the roster. While Hill said it is hard to imagine not having one of the Honeycutts on his team, the sisters definitely made their mark at East Surry both as players and people.
“First of all, they have come from a great family,” Hill said. “Their parents expected them to come to school and do what they were supposed to and expected them to do what we had to do on the ball field. From day one, their dad seemed to say to them, ‘You do what he asks you to do,’ and that’s one thing that stood out. They were always team players and they had to win and they wanted to do whatever it took to do it.”
Hill said something that has helped to separate the Honeycutts from the pack is that drive to win and an ability to keep their eyes on working to improve.
“Neither one of them like to lose,” he said. “I remember several games over the years, from both of them, where we didn’t play well and me or coach Hall would get on their butts and those two would be the first to step up and say, ‘Yeah, we played like crap,’” Hill said. “They never got mad at us because we were mad at them, they got mad at themselves for not playing very well. They just knew they needed to play better. That’s something you can’t teach and is a distinguishing factor with those two.”
Reid said she sees the Honeycutts’ competitiveness, too.
“They always seem to step up at the right time,” she said. “They want to be the ones with the ball in their hand at the end of a game. They don’t run away from it. Those are the kind of players you want on your team, those that enjoy the last inning pressure.”
At the conclusion of East Surry’s run to another state softball title last spring, the Honeycutt family was dealt a major blow as their mother passed away on the same day as the Cardinals clinched the championship. The wounds are obviously still there, but the Honeycutts’ play on the field and the course of their lives are a tribute to their mother, and the sisters aren’t slow on how important their parents have been in shaping who they are.
“Of course our parents have been working with us since we were small,” Brooke said. “We are the biggest thing to them, they always put us first before any of the things they wanted to do. Dad has been working with us since we were little, and mom used to even go out and hit and throw with us.”
“Until Brooke busted her in the leg one time,” Paige interrupted with a laugh.
“She quit once we got bigger and she figured out that she wasn’t as good as us, she didn’t want to work with us anymore,” Brooke chuckled.
Just by remembering their mother through humor rather than sadness, the Honeycutts show their maturity and their desire to be successful.
Reid thinks it is those qualities which will more than likely make the duo pioneers of the Surry Community softball scene.
“They bring a lot to my team,” Reid said. “Both of them are sort of at the core you could say, because they are in two of the most important positions on the field. They sort of carry that captain role.”
Contact Thomas Smith at email@example.com or 719-1920.