Heritage Hills' Eubank to play softball for Ball StateDecember 5, 2019
By COREY STOLZENBACH
LINCOLN CITY — Joe Asbury will be entering his 25th season as the coach of Heritage Hills softball program this spring, but only a few of his players have gone on to play at the NCAA Division I level.
Emma Eubank is about to become one of those players. The pitcher for the Patriots signed her letter of intent Thursday afternoon to play for Ball State University.
Eubank began playing softball when she was just four years old, and cited the competitiveness the game brings as a catalyst for her love of it. She played on different teams while her father, Jeff, was her coach. She garnered praise for her determination and for her leadership during her high school career.
The Cardinals went 34-20 in 2019, and will be getting a player who helped Heritage Hills to its first-ever regional softball championship this spring.
Signing her letter of intent with Ball State meant the world to Eubank.
“I never thought an opportunity like this would happen,” she said. “I can’t thank everybody enough for the support. I just love my community and all my teammates.”
She thought she would be a good match with the Cardinals when she met with head coach Megan Ciolli Bartlett and hearing what Bartlett is looking for in a pitcher. Eubank said she has prepared and dreamt for this her whole life, and thought she would seize the opportunity. She made her commitment in November.
Eubank said junior colleges and NCAA schools at the Division II and Division III levels also reached out to her. She said it was a very long recruiting process and said she reached out to Bartlett over the summer, who in turn watched Eubank at one of her summer tournaments. Eubank’s currently a member of Indiana Shockwaves Fastpitch, a U18 travel team, and had nothing but good things to say about Ball State when she made her visit.
“I just saw the family feel,” she said. “Ball State’s just really, really known for family — coaching staff was just amazing, girls were amazing and the academic programs are definitely what I want.”
Asbury said he first saw Eubank play when she was in junior high. He was impressed with the way she carried herself and said she was a good player then, but not as good as she is now. He knew Eubank needed to get stronger when she was in junior high and as a freshman, and praised her for her hard work in the weight room.
He also lauded Eubank for working on her pitches. Asbury said she could always locate her spots, but noted that she has added a touch of increased velocity.
Asbury also talked about this being a big commitment, and how much she’ll have on her plate because she’ll be pushing herself academically, too.
“I think she can do it, and she’s got the personality and skill set to be successful in both,” Asbury said. “I think it’s going to end up being a really good fit.”
Jeff Eubank recalled all the hours he spent working with his daughter. He would sit on a bucket and catch softballs that she threw him while critiquing the pitches and asking her to try different spins, or to work more on her changeup, for example.
He said, though, that all of it was worth it.
“I think they’re getting a top-notch, very determined player,” Jeff said. “She has a great attitude. She’s a great teammate.”
Eubank said she most needs to work on her power and getting stronger. She intends to go hard in the weight room as she prepares for Ball State and is also looking to add even more pitches to her arsenal. Eubank currently throws a dropball, knuckleball, fastball and curveball. She’s hoping to get the riseball down pat as well. Eubank said her current velocity is around 61-62 miles per hour.
She intends to study cellular and molecular biology at Ball State University, saying that her goal is to do cancer research in the future. Before she heads off to Muncie, though, she’ll get one more season of softball for the Patriots, and is hoping to get past semistate this time.
“We’re shooting big this year,” Eubank said.
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