AKRON — Prior to the season, the lineup was set in stone.
Jordyn Severns returned as the superstar backstop and Kennedy Rorar got the starting nod at shortstop.
Amazingly, the plan backfired.
Therefore, first-year Tallmadge head softball coach Brittany Lightel decided to do something unthinkable when it came to her talented pair of juniors.
She asked them to trade spots.
The Blue Devils might not win a conference title this spring, but this stunning switch could pay huge dividends down the road.
It certainly did Monday.
Host Tallmadge earned its second consecutive win after posting a 4-0 victory over Kent Roosevelt Monday at Firestone Stadium in Akron.
Rorar, who is now the Blue Devils’ starting catcher, finished with three hits in three at-bats and also threw out a runner trying to steal second base.
Severns, who is now finding her rhythm at shortstop, had a double and a run scored. She made some stellar defensive plays, including the tag on Rorar’s throw to gun down a bold Rough Rider baserunner.
Rorar, who also scored a run and drove in another, has gotten comfortable wearing the tools of ignorance behind the plate.
“I actually like the position behind there,” she said. “It benefits our team by a lot because I had a couple of errors the one game. It’s actually working the way we put it.”
Everything seems to be working for Rorar when the catcher’s gear is removed. Rorar has been tearing the cover off the ball for quite some time.
“That kid’s on fire,” Lightel said. “She has a nice, pretty swing. I always tell her that.”
Severns made a pair of defensive gems to end the second inning. She made a nifty over-the-shoulder catch on a shallow fly ball to left and then made a diving stop on a looping line drive.
“She is such a natural athlete,” Lightel said of Severns. “I can put her anywhere in the field. I’m totally confident that she’s going to do her job wherever she’s at.”
Severns, who has been bending her knees and crouching down behind home plate for what seems like forever, recently discovered some new leather.
And this piece of leather is quite different than her old piece of equipment.
“She has her new glove on,” Lightel said. “She has a fielder’s glove now. She hasn’t had a new fielder’s glove in years because she has been catching for so long.
“When I put her there, she had to use that one. She’s doing everything I’ve asked her to do.”
Rorar, on the other hand, doesn’t mind the bigger glove. She doesn’t mind torching her opponents with her aluminum stick, either.
All three of Rorar’s pitches came on the outside part of the plate.
But don’t be fooled by her ability to master the pitches to the right of her.
If a future hurler wants to bust her inside, she may want to proceed with caution.
“I like every pitch because I can hit every pitch,” Rorar said.
Since both of her gifted juniors are emerging quickly at their new positions, Lightel doesn’t plan to tinker with her lineup anytime soon.
“She has definitely looked more comfortable behind the plate than she did at shortstop,” Lightel said of Rorar. “Now that’s she’s getting a feel for both pitchers, I think that’s what we’ll stay at.”
As for the versatile Rorar, she has decided to shove her anxiety aside and enjoy the moment.
Fortunately for the confident teenager, there will be plenty of moments to relish before she puts the catcher’s equipment aside.
“Our new motto, because of the way we’ve been going and since we’ve already lost the league, is just to go out there and have fun and just be loose up there,” Rorar said. “So that’s what I decided to do.”
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.