Holub headed to Italy
By RANDY GONZALES
That's Italian for hello or goodbye.
For Maddie Holub, former star pitcher for both Fort Hays State University and Hays' Thomas More Prep-Marian High School, she will be doing both.
Holub will be saying goodbye to friends and family and saying hello to her new home in Italy when she leaves Hays in March to play in a professional softball league.
"I'm really excited," Holub said. "Honestly, I'm a little bit scared."
Holub has grown up and lived all her life in Hays; her first plane ride was to Florida to play softball.
"I don't know if it's actually hit me that in two months I'm going to be living in Italy by myself," Holub said.
An official for Collecchio Baseball Softball Club in Collecchio, Italy, reached out to Holub's coach at FHSU, Erin Kinberger. Holub took approximately two months to make the decision to play overseas, deciding just recently she was going to go.
"I definitely had to think about it," Holub said. "It's a great offer. ... When it's something you have to look into, it's a hard decision. I've got to leave my job. I've got to leave the girls I'm coaching here. I'm going to have to miss half the season."
"There's a lot of things that went into it," Holub said.
Holub, 23, who graduated from FHSU with a bachelor's degree in health and human performance, is working on her master's in health and human performance while also serving as a graduate assistant coach for the FHSU softball team. She will leave the team during the season to play in Italy.
Holub will fly to Italy on March 19 with her family.
"They're so excited," Holub said of her family. "They weren't expecting it, like I wasn't. It will give them an excuse to travel."
The season for Holub's Italian team starts March 29. The regular season ends July 5. The four top teams in the 11-team league advance to the world championships in Holland in September.
"I could be back early July, or in September," Holub said.
Collecchio is a town of approximately 13,000 located near Parma, in northern Italy. The team's coach said they will pay for an apartment for Holub and other living expenses.
"He told me to bring my glove, bring my clothes; the rest they'll take care of," Holub said.
The language barrier could be a problem for Holub.
"I'm the only American on the team as of right now," said Holub, adding each team is allowed two foreign players. "I am a little nervous about the language barrier. The manager I have been speaking to speaks OK English; it's not great. He said there are three or four girls on the team that speak fluent English. I'm sure I'll pick up on it OK."
Holub will pitch for her new team and will compete for an outfield spot, too.
"I'm not sure what the competition level of it is," Holub said of the league. "I hope I'll be successful; I'm going to work to be."
That work ethic served Holub well in high school and FHSU.
At TMP, Holub helped the Monarchs win two state titles and finish third her senior year. As a senior, Holub was 11-1 as a pitcher, with a 0.18 earned-run average. In 79 innings, she allowed four hits, with 171 strikeouts. Holub also hit .695, with 11 homers and 48 RBIs to lead the Monarchs.
Holub completed her career at FHSU with a masterful senior season. She tossed six no-hitters -- including back-to-back perfect games -- as the Tigers won two NCAA tournament games for the first time in school history. Holub went 29-4 last spring, with a 1.03 ERA. In 224 innings, she allowed 97 hits with 345 strikeouts. She also led the team at the plate, batting .426 with 19 homers and 56 RBIs.
Holub believes the attention she received her senior season was what caught the Italian team's eye.
"No doubt, that's how they found out about me," she said. "With the season I had last year, the season our team had, we got more media coverage than we ever have. Being in Italy, how else would they have found me, other than through the Internet and stories posted, searching through stats."
One added plus for living in Italy: Holub enjoys Italian food.
"I love Italian food; it's going to be a problem," she said with a laugh. "Good thing I have time to work out a lot, because I'm going to be eating a lot of pasta."