Elmwood Park’s Becky Gruber spoiled her teammates.
The Tigers expected Gruber to hit one home run after another this season, and the senior delivered, belting 17 home runs and driving in 57 runs en route to being named the 2014 Pioneer Press Softball Player of the Year.
“When I’m on deck, I can hear them [saying], ‘Becky, hit it to center field,’ or ‘Hit the scoreboard.’ I’m just trying to make contact,” Gruber said. “Now when I go up, I have a clear mind with runners on base. I think about what I have to do as a player to get my teammates to score.”
Gruber’s success with runners in scoring position can be traced to joining the Elmwood Park Tigers travel team at age 14. Co-coaches Jim Kelley and Bob Maize tinkered with Gruber’s back elbow to develop a quicker, softball-style swing. Gruber’s father, Peter, and her three older brothers played high school baseball. Becky Gruber copied their swings while growing up.
“My swing was long,” Becky Gruber said. “With faster pitching, I couldn’t get to pitches that were quicker.”Pioneer Press Softball Teams