Favorite athlete: Zach Ertz
Favorite team: Philadelphia Eagles
Favorite memory competing in sports: Winning ASA Nationals
Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: Last year on my travel team, we were playing in the rain, and as I was rounding first base, I slipped and face planted in front of a bunch of college coaches.
Music on mobile device: Rap
Future plans: To play softball at Kutztown University. I will go in as an Elementary Special Education major.
Words to live by: “Everything happens for a reason.”
One goal before turning 30: Travel the world
One thing people don’t know about me: I used to play the violin.
By Mary Jane Souder
Brittany Hubler knows only one way to play softball – all out.
The Hatboro-Horsham senior – the owner of a cannon for an arm and an equally powerful bat – could easily be described as intimidating with her no-nonsense style. Make no mistake about it, the senior captain, according to her coach, is the complete package
“I knew her when she was in eighth grade, and I knew she was going to be a game changer when she came up,” coach Joe DiFilippo said.
The Hatters’ coach was right. A first team all-league selection at catcher as a junior (this spring’s all-league selections have not been released), Hubler has set the tone since she stepped onto the diamond.
“When you go into a game where you know nobody is going to run on you, that takes a ton of pressure off of everything,” DiFilippo said. “I know when somebody’s on first base that nobody’s running.
“I think she probably had two or three stolen bases against her this year. Nobody has ever stolen third on her. She’s great with the pitchers.”
This year’s Hatter squad included a lot of young players on its roster, and at the beginning of the season, it was rough going. At least by the Hatters’ high standards and Hubler’s as well. The senior captain admits she did not handle it particularly well.
“I actually had to tell her to tone it down,” DiFilippo said. “She was really scaring some of the freshmen because she’s just such a tough kid, and she wants to succeed.
“I told her, ‘You know what, Britt – tone it down a little bit and enjoy your senior year. You’re worried too much about what other players are doing.’ I said – enjoy yourself, and you know what –that’s what she started doing, and it was a huge change in our team’s personality.”
Hubler acknowledges she had to adjust her mindset.
“It got to the point where I took on a lot of the load – all right, I need to do this to help the team score, I’ve got to help everybody out,” she said. “I was dreading going to softball.
“After Joe talked to me, I realized I needed to take a step back and have fun. It was my senior year. I’m never going to have another senior year in high school so why not make the best of it when we can.”
It’s not a coincidence the Hatters turned things around after that and went on to capture sole possession of the SOL American Conference title. Hubler’s steely determination and drive to succeed might be misinterpreted by some but definitely not by freshman Kendal Leitner, who took over the team’s pitching duties midway through the season.
“She was so welcoming,” Leitner said. “It was really nice knowing I had a senior catcher behind the plate because she’s been there and done that, so she knew what was going on, she controlled the game.
“She would calm me down if my pitches started getting a little wild. She’d come out to the mound and say, ‘You’re doing fine.’ She would help me through the inning - she just knew how to get me out of the inning.
“To opponents, she must be intimidating because she’s so confident and she has such a great personality where you look at her and think, ‘Oh my gosh, she’s going to hit a home run.’ She just has that look to her. Every time someone tries to steal – she’ll get them out. I always knew that nothing would go wrong with our catching because she’s always so much in control.”
Softball was a perfect fit from the outset for Hubler, who also played soccer.
“I would rush from soccer practice to softball practice,” she said. “Softball was in my family for a while. My sister played it when she was younger.
“As I got older, I realized soccer really wasn’t my thing anymore, so I stuck to softball, and I’m happy I did. I love the game, I love being involved, especially with my position. I’m a leader on the field and I love being able to lead. Being back there, it’s nice and relaxing because it’s just you.”
Except for a brief stint in the circle, Hubler has always been a catcher.
“I realized pitching wasn’t for me and I should stay behind the plate,” she said. “The ball would be flying everywhere. I think I probably had two strikeouts the whole season.”
Hubler went through the usual travel ranks, beginning with the Banshees until 16U and then moving to DiFilippo’s 18U Thunderbirds squad. She stepped into Hatboro-Horsham’s varsity lineup as a freshman when catcher Bridget Schaffer was sidelined with an injury.
“Some of the older kids I had were very good players, and she had no trouble getting on the same page as them and doing what she had to do to make herself better,” DiFilippo said. “Even summer ball as a freshman and sophomore, she played for me and even being young on the field playing 18U, she always held her own.”
Hubler has been a fixture behind the plate for the past three years and an undisputed leader for a Hatter squad that has won back-to-back conference titles. There’s no mistaking Hubler’s relationship with Leitner played a key role in the Hatters’ late-season success this spring.
Leitner, it turns out, had met Hubler before the two were teammates.
“She would sometimes catch me when I went to pitching,” the Hatters’ freshman pitcher said. “I always thought, ‘Wow, one of these days I’m going to be on the field with her. I’m going to be on the field with Brittany Hubler.’ Now she’s one of my mentors.”
Listening to Hubler tell it the relationship with Leitner was effortless on her part.
“I know Kendal had some opening up to do to kind of get to know and trust me,” she said. “I know being a pitcher you have to trust your catcher in order to throw as hard as you want to throw.
“I needed to show her she could trust me, that she can throw and I’m going to be there to block whatever she throws. I think after the first couple of games she realized I’m there to help her, and that’s when we developed the bond that we have.”
Ask DiFilippo what makes Hubler such an effective leader, and he points to her fearless approach to the game.
“She plays the game, and she’s not afraid to make mistakes,” the Hatters’ coach said. “If it’s wrong, she takes correction, and she doesn’t do it wrong again. That’s the kind of person I really appreciate as a coach.”
The Hatters’ season came to a disappointing end in Monday’s opening round of the District 1 6A playoffs, but Hubler leaves with nothing but good memories.
“I’m definitely going to remember the practices – even though they’re so hard, they’re fun,” she said. “For me, literally the bus rides are one of the best things.
“After we win, we’re all so hyped and so excited. I’ll definitely remember all the memories we made as a team. It’s very hard to see it end. As the days wind down in high school, it’s very sad because over the years you make so many bonds with people softball-wise. I have an amazing bond with my underclassmen and also my other seniors. Even though I get to play with Mikayla (Fedele) and Alicia (Tauber) over the summer – we’re never going to play another high school game together which is mind blowing.”
Interestingly, Hubler initially wasn’t quite sure she wanted to take her game to the collegiate level.
“When I was younger, I was like, ‘Oh, I want to go to a big D1 school and play all this very high end softball,” she said. “As I got older, I was like, ‘I don’t know I want to do this another four years because a college education compared to high school education - it’s 10 times harder.’
“It kind of changed when we got to showcases and I saw all these different college coaches there and I saw all my friends who go to college for softball. I was like – maybe I’ll try it and see if I get somewhere, and I ended up getting somewhere.”
Kutztown University will be inheriting Hubler’s talents.
“I chose Kutztown because they’re a very good teaching school and that’s what I want to go into,” she said. “Also, it’s a very competitive D2, which I like.
“I didn’t want to go D1 and eat, breathe, sleep my sport, and D3 is very relaxed. I wanted a happy medium.”
Hubler, who will major in Elementary Special Education, is very clear on her career path.
“I will forever enjoy working with kids,” she said. “I did an internship for school, and I worked with students who had special needs.
“Working with them is just such a great experience, and I was like, ‘Oh my god, I want to do this the rest of my life.’ Even though they have bad days, they come in the next day with a brand new attitude. They don’t dwell on what happened yesterday.”
Hubler also volunteers with Soroptimist, an organization that works with at-risk teenagers.
“They have this thing called ‘dream it, be it,’” Hubler said. “It’s a day when girls eighth through 12th grades come in and they help them figure out the career they want to get into.
“They address certain problems – if this happens to you, it’s not okay. Speak up, empower yourself. It’s all about empowering women. I’ve been doing that the past two years, and I love it.”
DiFilippo can vouch firsthand that Hubler is a natural working with young people.
“Every year we do the young kids clinic the first five week of the new year,” he said. “I actually can send Britt down to a separate gym, and she works with the kids by herself. I don’t even have to check on her.
“She does volunteer work at Hatboro Little League. She helps Ralph Carrullo with his pitching lessons. She has no problem giving back at any time. Kutztown is getting a great kid to have on their team.”