Santmyers fixture for Hawks

Skyline senior catcher Sam Santmyers, whose nickname is "Bubba," has been a four-year starter for the Hawks and has been a valuable asset behind the plate. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL — Sam Santmyers loves everything about playing softball, but nothing makes her happier than being behind the plate during a game.

The Skyline senior catcher, whose nickname is “Bubba,” has been a four-year starter for the Hawks, and has been a very valuable asset behind the plate for the Hawks.

“I like being in charge and seeing the whole field,” Santmyers said. “You’re always involved when you’re catching because the pitch is always coming to you. If there’s a bunt you have to field it. Or sometimes you have to make a throw down [on a steal attempt]. There’s just always a way that the catcher’s involved.”

Santmyers said she used to play in the outfield and third base, but in eighth grade on the Skyline JV team she moved to catcher, and has loved it ever since.

One thing that helps Santmyers is she knows her pitcher very well. Skyline pitcher Carrie Robinson and Santmyers were the battery for the Hawks on the JV team.

“We’ve been good friends in school,” Santmyers said. “When we get on the field, she knows what she wants to pitch. I know where I want to set up and then it just works together.”

Santmyers said Robinson is the one who helped bring her nickname of ‘Bubba’ to softball. Santmyers said her dad called her Bubba when she was younger and Robinson heard it and it’s stuck through softball ever since.

“I love it. It’s just like ‘Bubba’s here, Bubba’s ready to play. Big Bubba up to bat,'” Santmyers said with a laugh. “It’s kind of a powerful name, too.”

Don’t let the nickname fool you, Santmyers is first in her class at Skyline and Skyline softball coach Frank Nelson said her brains really help Santmyers.

“She’s smart enough to understand the ins and outs of catching, the nuances of how to be a good catcher,” Nelson said. “The fact that she is smart makes it easier for people to talk to her about things.”

Nelson said being smart also helps Santmyers at the plate. She’s not a power hitter, but Nelson said she understands what needs to be done in certain situations and how to do it.

Santmyers said she worked with a Shenandoah University softball coach when she was younger and that helped her with her hitting.

She also plays travel ball for the Virginia Outlaws, based out of Centreville, and she said playing travel ball has helped her game a lot as well.

Last year Santmyers hit .441 and was second in the area with 33 RBIs.

“I’m not really a home run hitter, but that’s not always what you need. You need that contact hitter that’s going to hit the line drives,” Santmyers said. “I feel like in our lineup, I fit in right there.”

Santmyers is also confident she will fit in next year at Barton College, a D-II school in Wilson, North Carolina, where she will be on the softball team.

“I went down and visited the college and I loved it,” Santmyers said. “It’s small. The town reminds me of Front Royal, too. The coach really likes me. I’ve seen the team play, and they seem pretty good. I’m excited to be able to go down there and have my role down there.”

The Hawks are off to a 4-2 start. Their only losses came in eight innings to Central 1-0 on March 30, and then 10-3 to Sherando on April 2.

Santmyers said she believes the team can have a lot of success the rest of the season.

“I think we’ll do well in Northwestern District play, and then in the conference I think we’ll do really well there, too,” Santmyers said. “The conference is kind of what it’s about. I think we have a really good chance to make it to regionals and even states, but we just have to stay with it and work really hard and not let any distractions come in.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com