By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
When South Laurel coach James Burns was coaching a 9-year-old Amber Hyde on a traveling softball team, he knew that she was a good player. He had no idea that she would turn into one of the best players in the region by the time she was a senior.
“I didn’t see that much potential,” Burns said after Hyde signed her letter of intent to play softball at the University of the Cumberlands. “She was a slow developer. She really didn’t start developing as a player until middle school. Over one summer she went from being an average player to a super player. Once it clicked, she was a different player.” So much in fact that Hyde was named to the KSCA Class 3A All-State honorable mention team last season.
Hyde started playing Tee Ball when she was 4-years-old and has always dreamed about being able to play in college one day.
“I started talking to Coach (Angie) Dean during my sophomore year,” Hyde said. “I met her at a blue chip camp and she’s just an awesome lady. I like her coaching style.”
“We have a lot of options with Amber,” Dean said. “She can catch and play the outfield or infield. When we signed C.J. (Cassandra Johnson) I asked Amber when will it be her turn. I really wanted to get her here at Cumberlands.”
Hyde said the fact that Johnson, along with former South Laurel teammate Casie Finley, will be at Cumberlands helped her decision in choosing the Williamsburg school.
“I’ve played with those girls since I was young, so it will be good to know somebody there,” Hyde said.
While she feels like her best positions are catcher and outfield, Hyde said she will be willing to change if she’s needed in the infield.
“Amber could be All-Conference,” Burns said of her potential. “She’s a super catcher, one of the best, if not the best, in the area. She has good arm strength, and when her hitting is on, she’s hard to get out. I look for her to do well.”
“South Laurel has been very good to our program,” Dean said. “They always have good athletes who are also good in the classroom. I’m tickled to death to get players from here. Coach Burns does a great job. There are a couple of more I would like to sign from here.”