The first time Marian Catholic coach Kerri Evans saw Becca Gray pitch was the first day of softball tryouts in March of 2008.
It didn't take long for the Spartans' skipper to realize what she had on her hands.
"I know she had come to a camp before that, but I guess I didn't really remember it," Evans said of Gray. "The first day of tryouts when we saw her pitch, the coaches all just kind of looked at each other. Right then we knew she was going to be a big contributor for the next four years."
The coaches were right on the money. Gray spent four seasons etching her name in the Marian record books.
In 2011, the Crete resident went 20-4 with a 1.20 ERA while hitting .450 from the leadoff spot. She scored 40 runs and swiped 12 bases. For her efforts, Gray is the 2011 Times Player of the Year.
In her career, the three-time Marian MVP pitched 553 1/3 innings and picked up 64 wins, both of which are school records. Gray's 1.44 ERA as a junior was the highest that number ever went.
But after dominating opposing hitters for all this time, the Spartans' ace revealed something unexpected.
"I don't really like pitching that much, to be honest," Gray said. "I've just done it for so long that it kind of got old. I'm going to play the outfield in college."
While Gray won't take the mound for SIU-Edwardsville, she said she never considered walking away from pitching during her high school career.
"(Coach Evans) never would have allowed that," Gray said.
The decision to move away from pitching may seem odd coming from such a talented hurler, but that might not even be Gray's strongest suit.
"She's brings so many different aspects of the game to the table," Evans said. "Obviously, her pitching speaks for itself, but I think she's been the best baserunner I've ever seen because of her speed and her intelligence on the basepaths. She's an excellent fielder, too."
Hitting is the aspect of the game Gray prefers, though, and it's easy to see why. Her 189 career hits -- 40 more than the next-closest Spartan -- make her Marian's all-time leader, while Gray's .450 career batting average ranks second in school annals.
She also holds the school record for runs scored, is second in career walks and third in stolen bases.
"I don't even know what to think about all that," Gray said. "I never really thought about the records. I just go out there and play for fun."
Gray downplays the impact she has had at Marian, but others don't. Evans, a 1996 Marian graduate who has been the softball coach at her alma mater since 2001, summed it up best.
"I can say that in all the years I played or coached at Marian, she's the most talented player to come through our program."