Two of Mingus Union High School’s softball seniors are moving on to play at the next level; catcher Morgan Mabery signed with South Mountain Community College and pitcher Krista Earl put pen to paper to commit to Cairn University.
Next spring will be the first time the duo will not have played together since they were 8 years old, first teaming up for the Verde Valley All Stars.
“We’ve always clicked,” Mabery said. “We’re close friends, we’ve never had a season apart so it’s going to be difficult not being with her.”
Both suffered difficult injuries to return from for their respective positions. Mabery had her ACL replaced and Earl a shoulder injury. But they are playing like the senior leaders that they are; Earl carries a 10-3 record, a 1.53 ERA in 59.1 innings and a 28 to 68 walk-to-strikeout ratio this season.
Mabery bolsters a .975 fielding percentage with just three errors and is batting .475 with 29 hits, 25 runs scored, 19 RBI and two home runs.
“I think it was hard for both of us,” Mabery said. “I didn’t think I could come back but I had the drive to come back to be a better catcher. I think I’m a better catcher than before.”
“It was hard for me, I told myself I wasn’t coming back,” Earl said. “But it was the support I had from my family and team and the dedication I learned from playing softball. I always liked being with these girls.”
For Earl, Cairn, a school in Pennsylvania, was the right choice because it had everything she was looking for. It is a Christian university and head coach David Alshay is a pitching coach. It also has the major and minor she plans to study.
Mabery’s case is similar. South Mountain coach Christa Pfeninger is a catching coach and after attending one of her camps, Mabery liked her. After looking at all of the schools in Phoenix, Mabery chose to join the Cougars.
“It was the one I like the most,” Mabery said. “[Pfeninger] is a catching coach that is going to get me where I want to be.”
Marauders head coach John Brown has practically always coached them, and Mabery actually started out as a pitcher until Earl moved in and took her spot.
Being apart will be tough for the pair, especially considering the strong bond that is typical of a pitcher and catcher.
“I’m going to miss her so much,” Earl said. “It’s going to be hard getting used to a new catcher, I’ve dealt with her so long. She knows what to say when I’m down. We have a type of unsaid communication.”