EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

July 28, 2013

Three great careers end with a bang

Talented trio of Hart, Bettencourt and Whitley had common bond: Talent, determination and willing dads

After literally hundreds of thousands of pitches, many in cold, dank gymnasiums/indoor facilities, at all hours of the day for the last 13 years, one of the area’s most talented pitchers, Britt Hart, now knows what it’s like to be hit by a Mack Truck.

Other than maybe a pickup game, her softball career is over after graduating recently from Div. 1 Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I., where she received a scholarship.

“It still hasn’t hit me that I’ll never play at that level again,” said Hart, who earned signature wins over Brown, Boston University, Providence College, University of San Diego and UNLV among her 30 career victories.

“I think when the fall comes around it’ll really hit me that I’m not going back to school,” said Hart, who grew up in North Andover. “I didn’t realize how sad I was going to be in the last game. When I hugged my parents after our last game, I just said ‘Now what?’”

,She is not alone.

,In fact, two of her former teammates as teenagers, on the talented New England Firebirds 14U team (they finished 63-4-1, including nine tourney wins) Katie Bettencourt, of Salem, N.H., and Krissy Whitley, of North Andover, recently finished off their marvelous careers this spring at UMass Amherst and Southern Connecticut State University, respectively.

All have enough softball awards and trophies to fill up an entire bedroom.

They, too, were awarded college scholarships and spent thousands of hours, practicing and playing something they loved.

“It’s hard,” said Bettencourt. “I can’t explain how much I loved playing. It wasn’t easy. There was a lot of work and sometimes it was frustrating. But I loved every minute of it.”

Players like Hart, Whitley and Bettencourt don’t come around often, which makes their exodus during the same year so amazing.

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