Friday, Sep 19, 2014
Hernando High

"Daddy's girl" set for emotional induction


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Editor's note: This is the first story in a series highlighting Hernando High's 2013 Sports Hall of Fame inductees.

Many Hernando County prep student/athletes don't mind the moniker "mama's boy." Typically, it's an affectionate tag for someone extremely close to their mother.

The handle "daddy's girl" strikes a similar chord for females.

One of eight athletes to be inducted into the Hernando High School Sports Hall of Fame prior to the homecoming game against archrival Pasco on Oct. 18 at Tom Fisher Memorial Stadium is a supreme daddy's girl - Chrissy Nicole Hartley-Dushane.

Formerly Chrissy Hartley, her husband, Ralph Dushane, and her two stepchildren are expected to flank the ex-Lady Leopard standout for the Hall of Fame banquet the night before in Brooksville.

Two major pieces of her family tree aren't expected to be present. Her mom, Ruth Maconi, currently resides in Ashville, N.C. Her father, Rick Hartley, died of a heart attack on July 18, 2010.

???The 5-foot-11 Hartley-Dushane was originally born in Largo and is a life-long Floridian.

Hartley-Dushane, 30, is recognized as Hernando County's finest-ever volleyball and softball player.

Her athletic roots stretch back to T-Ball at the Dixie Youth League level beginning at 4 years old.

For 14 Dixie seasons, Hartley-Dushane toiled mostly as a right-handed pitcher and center fielder.

Even after the Hernando Youth League season she remained on the diamonds playing travel ball for the Wildcats and Tampa Mustangs.

In middle school as a seventh-grader, she played for the Parrott Lady Leopards in softball under Val Curren. A year later at Powell she remained with one sport: softball.

Upon matriculating to Hernando High, one of her best friends, Beth Chatman, asked her to try out for volleyball as a freshman.

"Volleyball was completely different than softball," recalled Hartley-Dushane on what motivated her. "I had a blast playing it immediately. It was weird. I had played nothing but softball for years, but it (volleyball) was pretty cool.

"Back then I just did it on the side before softball. I started out on JV, but got called up (to varsity) by the end of the season. I had so much fun I stayed with it for four years."

Hartley-Dushane's first coach, Kimi Hellenberg, was the last Hernando County volleyball mentor to take a local team to the Final Four (Class 4A in 1996). As a freshman, HHS tied for second in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference, finishing 15-9 overall

Dena (Bridges) Frye served as Hartley-Dushane's coach over her last three campaigns. Frye's 1998 and 2000 spiker squads earned GCAC championships.

As a middle hitter, Hartley-Dushane was a GCAC Honorable Mention selection as a sophomore and All-GCAC as a junior and a senior.

As a senior in 2000-01, Hartley-Dushane paced the Lady Leopards to a 19-2 overall mark as she was named the GCAC's Player of the Year.

Despite the success in volleyball, her passion was on the diamond.

Hartley-Dushane had the good fortune to play for Florida Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Famer Ernie Chatman in softball.

Coincidentally, the greatest four-year stretch of any Hernando County softball program ensued. Over the next four seasons, HHS captured 104 wins in 128 games - a sizzling .813 winning percentage.

During that span, HHS softball teams captured four straight district titles, three GCAC titles and reached the coveted Final Four in back-to-back seasons (besides HHS, only Hernando Christian Academy has ever done that locally).

Hartley-Dushane anchored three of the sport's four toughest positions: pitcher, shortstop and center field.

She was named All-GCAC after her last three seasons. She was also feted as the GCAC's Player of the Year following her junior and senior campaigns.

Though the right-handed batter hasn't swung a bat in over 12 seasons, Hartley-Dushane still holds career HHS' marks in games played (128), at-bats (399), runs scored (113), hits (140), extra-base hits (61), homers (eight) and runs batted in (95).

Though she owned a career .373 batting average, her bread and butter was toeing the rubber.

On the mound, Hartley-Dushane amassed 368 career innings pitched allowing a paltry 55 earned runs for a microscopic 0.96 ERA. What caught most of the opposition's grief was her ability to throw four pitches for strikes.

Across four seasons, one of Hartley-Dushane's strengths was her rise ball which helped fan 526 batters compared to 61 free passes for an almost unheard of 9-to-1 ratio in strikeouts to walks.

Was it any wonder her senior superlative was "Most likely to win a gold medal?"

"I loved softball, it was in my blood since I was 4," pointed out Hartley-Dushane. "I kept trying to perfect my craft every time I went out there. The adrenaline rush is so intense for me.

"I'm the one that wanted to be at the plate with the bases loaded in a tied game," said Hartley-Dushane. "I'm the one who wanted to throw the 3-2 pitch in the same situation to an opposing batter. That's what I lived for."

On what motivated her, "In the beginning, I just wanted to be with my friends," recalled Hartley-Dushane. "I'm so fortunate that my dad saw something in me that he had me start pitching when I was 5. I think deep down he thought I'd be pretty good."

Hartley-Dushane believes she "arrived" at 11 years old.

"Back then my dad coached and so did Coach Ernie (Chatman) with his daughter, (Beth)," recalled Hartley-Dushane. "We were comparable in ability. When Beth and I pitched against each other we filled the stands. It seemed like it was always a pitchers' duel."

From that point, according to Hartley-Dushane, she pushed herself harder and harder. In her corner was her ever-present father and mentor.

When she was 11, her parents divorced and she lived with her father.

"Looking back, most of the credit belongs to my dad," detailed Hartley-Dushane. "He gave up the majority of his life to get me into college. I certainly wouldn't be in this position without him."

???After graduating from HHS in 2001, a rash of misfortune hit.

Hartley-Dushane had four surgeries performed to treat to a pre-cancer condition.

She initially withdrew from Pasco-Hernando Community College and worked locally with Goodwin Brothers Construction and Cemex.

She returned a couple of years later and played two seasons for Conquistador skipper Tom Ryan.

Then arrived the twist of fate.

While playing shortstop, Hartley-Dushane was involved in a rundown. She recalls faking a throw to home, tagging the runner and attempting to step around her. That's when her right knee buckled.

She heard the dreaded pop and was eventually carried off the diamond within two weeks of states.

Her ensuing MRI confirmed the worst; Hartley-Dushane had suffered an anterior cruciate ligament tear.

Despite the intolerable pain, Hartley-Dushane refused to sit. Instead, she wore a bulky brace in the state playoffs. She pitched knowing she could only go either front or back, but could not move laterally.

Even after the corrective surgery, "It just didn't feel right," noted Hartley-Dushane. "I didn't have the strength I had before. Then one day at work, I turned the wrong way and I felt it again.

"I feel like I have a high tolerance for pain," shared Hartley-Dushane. "But looking back, maybe I did rush things to get back out there. I didn't feel as strong. That's when I had to make the toughest decision of my life. I wanted to be able to walk for the rest of my life, that's when I decided not to continue playing."

As far as regrets, "As an athlete I didn't accept it, but I knew what I needed to do," she said. "After all the hours, practices, games, no one wants to walk away - you just deal with it. As time went on, I realized I was done playing. It was time to turn my attention to coaching."

At that point, she and her father formed a U-18 travel ball, The Guardians.

After that first practice, she remembers calling her father, but him never returning the call.

"We had never coached together - my dad and I - it's something we looked forward to. But after he got home, he fell asleep and never woke up," recalled Hartley-Dushane. "I didn't think I could handle it (coaching by herself following her father's death), but I couldn't have asked for a better group of supportive parents. I've been coaching ever since."

She married her husband, a production coordinator at Cemex, in March 2010 and currently resides in Weeki Wachee.

Besides guiding The Guardians, she serves as a fulltime assistant softball coach at PHCC and is the NSA Women's 19 and Over Fast-Pitch Softball Director.

On what advice she'd give to an aspiring student/athlete, she said, "Are you willing to devote yourself? You have to be willing to commit yourself 100 percent to whatever sport you want. If you find your passion, it'll never be a job."

Hartley-Dushane wanted to thank so many people for making the HOF Induction possible.

"There have been hundreds of athletes before me at Hernando. Yes, I've worked hard and I was fortunate to set some records," she detailed. "But I never would have guessed I'd be accepted (to the HHS HOF). I don't know if I've wrapped myself around it yet, it'll probably hit me at the banquet.

"I'm fortunate that so many people believed in me. I can't say enough about people like Darryl (Mobley), Coach Ernie and David (Pugh). Without their love and support, I wouldn't be here talking to you."

On the fateful day of induction, "I'm barely keeping it together now," admitted Hartley-Dushane. "I know I'm going to cry at the banquet. My dad would be so proud. I was a daddy's girl. He's the one who sacrificed so much for me. He gave me the opportunities to excel; and not all parents are like that.

"He chose to give me everything unconditionally. I miss him dearly. After my folks got divorced, we didn't have much, but he gave me whatever he had. None of this is close to reality without my dad. He might not be sitting at that banquet, but he'll be there."

By the numbers: Hernando's Chrissy Hartley-Dushane

- Compiled by TONY CASTRO

YRS GP AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI .AVG

1998-01 128* 399* 113* 149* 40* 13* 8* 95* .373

* Denotes school record

YRS AP GS CG IP H R ER BB KO SHO W L ERA

1998-01 66 47 41 368.0 186 100 55 61 526 17.5 48 10 0.96

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