Shuberts together on Foard softball team

When David Shubert stopped coaching the Fred T. Foard softball program in 1996, he didn’t know that he would return 16 years later to coach his daughter, Lexi.

The Shuberts are both members of the Lady Tigers softball program, which is off to an 8-0 start this season, including 3-0 in the Northwestern 3A/4A.

David — who not only coached the Foard softball program (1991-96), but also coached the school’s basketball program from 1992-98 — said he remembered his time as hoops coach, when his young daughter attended the games.

“She went to her first basketball game when she was about two weeks old,” David said. “(My wife) Ginger carried her to every game for a few more years. After Luke was born in 1997, I told Ginger that I didn’t want to look back and say that I missed my kids. I told her it was the last year I was going to coach. I’d already given up softball a few years before. I gave up basketball then, too, and never regretted it.”

Stepping away from prep sports to spend time with his two young children, David built a baseball diamond in the back of the family’s yard.

Lexi and David had their first memories of playing together on that field, some more painful than others.

“I remember when I was 5 or 6 years old in the back yard throwing a baseball,” Lexi said. “About the second or third pitch he threw, I missed it and it hit me in the eye. I had to come in and get an ice pack. He thought he’d never get me out there again, but I did.”

Starting out in Little League baseball, Lexi eventually split off into playing softball. Not initially having the desire to pitch, Lexi was put on the mound because her team did not have a pitcher.

It’s a decision that puzzled her at the time.

“I thought my coach was crazy to put me out there,” Lexi said. “I got out there on the mound and loved it. I’ve loved it ever since.”

It was a choice that would lead to a successful path for her, but not at first.

“Her grandpa was sitting beside me and asked me ‘Has she ever pitched before?’” David said. “I said ‘No. That backstop might not be big enough to hold it.’ That very next pitch went over the backstop. I lie you not.”

As she worked on her game over the years, a meeting with former UNC-Charlotte coach Jim Daley helped her develop her skills.

“Jim and her just meshed,” David said. “He taught her tons and he still does to this day. He’s kind of her pitching coach for several years now.”

In addition to his daughter, David had interaction with other current Lady Tigers, including Ashley Oliver, Addie Bolick, Taylor Brown and Rebecca Rowe.

After being named coach of the Lady Tigers again this past September, David said the transition with the players was a smooth one.

“I think it was easy for a few of those girls that they knew me,” he said. “At the same time, it made it difficult that they knew me. That tends to make them not listen as much.”

Lexi said she was glad her dad took the position, but was aware of the bar he’d set for her.

“I was glad I knew it was someone I could go to,” she said. “I knew it was my dad that was the coach. He was going to push me to be better.”

That familiarity along with talent on the Lady Tigers squad has pushed them to the top of the Northwestern 3A/4A standings entering a pivotal conference game against St. Stephens on Wednesday.

“It’s a good corps of kids that have parents who have worked with them the same way I’ve worked with Lexi,” David said. “I can’t take any credit for any of the ability of any of those girls because they’ve worked on it through the years. Myself and a few other parents just made ourselves available to them.”

Lexi is having an outstanding season, striking out 93 batters in 56 innings, while allowing eight runs (seven earned) and 21 hits.

“I’ve been really blessed with the gift God has given me to play softball,” Lexi said. “I really try to work to use that ability the best I can. I’m just so blessed to have the stats that I do. I never thought when I started out that I’d end up like this.”

The success on the mound so far has helped lead Lexi, a junior, to her next challenge in life — college softball. She committed last July to pitch for USC-Upstate in 2014.

David said he’s proud of his daughter’s play so far this year and throughout her career.

“You can pitch some days, be really good, make one mistake and lose a ball game,” he said. “There are other days where you can be not very good at all and win a ball game. Pitching is a funny thing. Lexi’s had some better days than others. The thing is, she wants to be consistent. She’s done that so far already.”