Fortunately for ex-Spanish Springs hurler Mallary Darby, she was merely finishing one chapter of her prominent softball career and beginning another as she is set to play in a professional league in the Netherlands.
After Darby wrapped up her successful high school campaign with the Cougars, in which she set five state career records, she took to the circle for the Nevada Wolf Pack. In her time with Nevada, Darby led the team in a number of pitching categories and set multiple records, leading her to be named the Senior Female Athlete of the Year for the Wolf Pack. It is that resume that has allowed Darby to continue playing the sport she loves.
Spanish Springs softball coach Jeff Davidson, who had a front seat to watch Darby lead the Cougars to back-to-back state titles in 2007 and 2008, the first titles in program history, said he expected this of Darby after her time at SSHS.
“Her success doesn’t surprise me at all,” Davidson said. “Anybody that watched Mallary knew she was going to be successful at the next level because she was what I call a ‘gamer.’ You could give her the ball and she’d go as long as she could and as hard as she could. At any time and in any situation, she just wanted the ball. She was a fierce competitor on the mound. It seemed like when runners would get in scoring position, she’d really bare down.
“She always strived to be the best and she used that as motivation. She had a great rise ball and she could also throw a drop or a curve or a change for a strike at any time in the count or anytime in the game. I remember when she won her second state championship, we ended the game on a strikeout with a changeup. That wasn’t her go-to pitch, but she had command of all her pitches. She just had that confidence in herself.”
Following the close of her season and career with the Wolf Pack, Darby wasted no time starting upon her new path as she jumped on a plane a week after her collegiate career ended to play in a professional league in the Netherlands. For a girl who has stayed close to home until now, the decision to make the journey was a big one.
“I was a little bit nervous and I still am,” Darby said. “I’ve never really been away from home. Obviously I stayed home at Nevada. I never really left so it’s going to be something a little bit different for me, but I’m really excited. It’s going to be a great experience. Like I said, I never left so it’s going to be good for me to grow and experience something outside of Reno.”
While Darby said she is looking forward to growing and discovering new things in her new journey to Europe, she also said she matured with her time at Nevada.
“My whole career at Nevada was a huge growing experience for me,” Darby said. “I met and made so many of my best friends. It was just a lot of fun. This past year was the best year I had. I don’t know if it was because it was my senior year, but it was a lot of fun this year. I’m going to miss it. I don’t think it’s hit me yet that it’s over. I’m sure when I come back it’s going to be really weird not playing here.
“I just grew up as a person and an athlete a lot. The mental aspect of the game is so much different and I feel like I grew a lot there. Just growing as a person was the main thing I took from my experience. On the field there are mental aspects that I can gain from it, but I’d say the biggest thing I’m taking away is my character. I learned a lot and I gained a lot of good friends. It was just an all-around growing experience.”
It is those relationships that Darby said will be the hardest to leave behind.
“I am a homebody,” Darby said. “I just think that I’m going to miss my family and friends the most because I’m really close with them. It’s hard for me to be away from them. I’m going to miss the people more than anything. I’m going to miss the relationships that I had with the team. Everybody was really close this year. I think I’m going to miss that the most. We had a lot of fun. We weren’t as successful as previous years, but everybody worked really hard and it was a good group of girls to work with. I’m just really going to miss it.
“They’re all excited for me though. It’s different for my family too because I’ve always been here. It’s different knowing that I’m going to be gone for five months. They’re really excited though. They couldn’t be happier. I think they’re happier than I am.”
Although Darby may miss those she was closest with, she will not be alone on her new team in Holland as a familiar face in former Wolf Pack player Brittany Puzey will also be flying across the Atlantic to continue her softball career. Puzey is the one who originally introduced Darby to the possibility of playing in the Netherlands, having spent the prior summer competing for the same professional league. Darby said she was not sure what to expect of softball in Holland.
“I’m not really sure actually how big it is there, but it just sort of fell into place,” Darby said. “I didn’t really decide to go over there until maybe March when I made the decision to go over there. I e-mailed back and forth with the coaches and it sort of just happened. I’m not sure how big it is over there, I just know that they have some professional leagues over there. It’s not as big over there as it is here though.”
Once Darby finishes her international season, she will return to the University of Nevada to complete her education degree.
“I’m probably not going to try and find a pro team after the summer,” Darby said. “I have to come back and finish school and stuff like that. I could go back next summer too, but we’ll see. This is going to be quite the experience so I’m focusing on this right now.”