Dubay twins helped key Hampshire Regional softball team’s success

By HANNAH BEVIS 

Staff Writer 

Published: 06-23-2023 6:13 PM

When it came down to the final inning of their final game of the season, the Hampshire Regional softball team turned to some of its most unexpected and talented players on the roster – the eighth-grader contingent.

Ryanne Dubay, Raegan Dubay and Rachael Hickox were the final three batters in the team’s MIAA Division 4 state championship game against Joseph Case, and the trio were a huge part in the team making it that far in the first place. 

With the graduation of six seniors last year, the team’s youth was one of the question marks this season, but the middle-schoolers, particularly the Dubays, showed that they had no problem stepping up to the plate even in the toughest of moments.

The Dubay twins filled two of the biggest holes that Hampshire had going into the offseason – second base and catcher. Raegan has always been a catcher, inspired by her older sister Josilyn Dubay who plays the position as well.

“I kind of got jealous with my sister, and I wanted to always try and be as good as I can,” Raegan Dubay said. “And then I made friends with an umpire (Fred Hoffer) – he recently passed – but he's always made me fall in love with helping and protecting them.” 

Raegan’s desire to be as good as her sister and her friendship with the late Hoffer, who passed in November of 2022 after umpiring for more than 35 years, helped lay the foundation for the eighth grader’s passion for catching, and she impressed everyone who saw her this season. Most were shocked to learn the figure crouched behind home plate catching senior Joss Mettey’s blistering tosses wasn’t even a high-schooler yet. 

“People ask about Raegan behind the plate and you say that she's only in eighth grade and they're all like, ‘You got to be kidding me,’” Hampshire head coach Brian McGan said. “And the same with Ryanne. It seems that that hiccup doesn't bother them as far as (a) big moment. They're softball players.”

While Raegan has been playing catcher consistently since the two started playing softball when they were around six or seven years old, Ryanne just started playing second base this year. Before the season, she was primarily a pitcher, but she wasn’t going to usurp long-time Hampshire starter Mettey, and McGan had other spaces to fill on the field. The best time for him to see how Ryanne would do at second was during the team’s batting practice, where one player bats and the rest are in the field defensively.

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“We saw it last year when we were doing (batting practice)… we stuck her over there to see what she could do, and (the other coaches) talked (and said) this kid's gonna be pretty good. And she bought into what we sold her,” McGan said. “In my opinion she is probably one of the better second basemen in Western Mass.”

McGan wasn’t sure what to expect from the pair when they first joined the team. He knew they had potential to be great – they wouldn’t be on the team otherwise, and he had a glimpse of what the duo could do when they were bubble players on last year’s team. But the leaps and bounds they’ve made this season far surpassed what he hoped. 

“Their progress has been incredible since day one,” McGan said. “I had a feeling that they're going to be pretty good players, but I never expected what we got out of them so far.”

And to their credit, the Dubays have fit right in with Hampshire’s team. Age is only a number for the Raiders – what matters more is determination, talent and willingness to give their all, and the Dubay twins have been model players in those regards. Their family is already all in on softball – their younger sister, Kalin Dubay, was the team’s go-to pinch runner this year, a talkative “light” on the team that reminds head coach McGan of recently graduated senior Katelyn Baker. Their parents are all-in too – their mom one of their biggest fans, while their dad is maybe a little too “obsessed” with softball, according to the twins. 

But the Dubays have found another family this season – their Hampshire team. The two were nervous at first joining the team full-time, needing a game or two to get their feet under them. But very quickly, they’ve forged close bonds with their teammates and created something special and unexpected this season. 

“I truly think that this year has been one of the best years playing softball. I love the girls,” Ryanne said. “The girls have been so nice to everybody and... we're just a huge family. Being part of that family is just to trust each other and I think we all trust each other so much.” 

Hannah Bevis can be reached at hbevis@gazettenet.com. Follow her on Twitter @Hannah_Bevis1.]]>