Cheshire native Tori Hunt takes one of her last at bats in her collegiate career with RPI during a game against Williams College on Tuesday.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. – At Hoosac Valley High School, Tori Hunt was a star.
When she went off to college, she came back to Earth.
Now, after a lot of hard work, she is playing a starring role once more.
“Tori's meant a lot to us over the last four years,” Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute softball coach Amber Maisonet said on Tuesday. “She's a kid who comes every day and works hard, and you can't ask for more than that. To see her grow over the last four years has been fantastic.”
On Tuesday, Hunt went 4-for-8 with two doubles and two runs batted in to lead RPI to a double-header sweep of Williams College by scores of 7-3 and 7-3.
Hunt is hitting about .400 this spring for the Engineers (22-6), and she has started every game she's played in.
It is the kind of play that earned the Cheshire native two team MVP awards with the Hurricanes. And it's a long way from her freshman year in Troy, N.Y., when she started five games and had five hits in 22 at-bats.
“Freshman year, she battled a little bit,” Maisonet said. “She played a role for us. She ran bases, got in when we we needed her to and did what we needed her to do. And she has just steadily worked and worked and worked and done everything I asked her to do.
“Now she's having huge hits for us and playing great defense. You can't ask for more than that.”
On Tuesday afternoon, she had a double in each end of the double-header and turned in a stellar play at shortstop in Game 1, going into center field to make an over-the-shoulder catch that robbed the Ephs' Ali Graebner of a single.
Big plays have been the rule this year for Hunt, who earlier this month was named the Player of the Week in both the Liberty League and the ECAC.
Tuesday's wins over Williams (22-9) mark the end of the regular season for RPI, which opens the Liberty League tournament at home on Thursday against Skidmore.
With a tradition that includes two NCAA tournament appearances (2000 and '06), the Engineers are hoping that they still have a lot of softball left to play this season, but Hunt said nostalgia is starting to creep in as her senior season winds down.
“Definitely,” she said. “We just had our Senior Day, and they did a lot of stuff for us. I love playing. I've been playing since I was 4 or 5.
“But I'm trying not to think about it. I'm just having fun and living in the moment.”
It's been a lot of fun closing out her career on this year's RPI squad, a team dominated by freshmen and sophomores with just two seniors – Hunt and Pittsford, N.Y.'s, Dani Grage – on the roster.
“We've definitely had our ups and downs,” Hunt said. “We've come out strong sometimes and other times we've struggled. We've definitely had a few learning experiences, and I think right now we're in a really good place with it going into our championship.
“It's been a lot of fun -- a lot of young kids doing funny things.”
And Hunt, who was a captain for three years at Hoosac Valley, was just the person to help lead the young RPI squad.
“Her leadership has been amazing for us this year,” Maisonet said. “She is our captain. She is our one and only captain, and she's done a great job.
“I've asked a lot from her, seeing as there are only two seniors, and she's risen to the challenge the whole time.”