Rathbun getting bat on ball for Woodridge softball

Roger Gordon
Woodridge Bulldogs

At the start of the softball season, Sarah Rathbun was worried about not making contact at the plate.

“She didn’t want to strike out,” said head coach Dan Schneider of the Woodridge freshman shortstop.

Not to worry.

“Sarah wasn’t getting hits, but she was putting the bat on the ball,” the coach continued. “About a month ago, we switched her from cleanup hitter to the lead off spot. That’s a lot of pressure for a freshman, but she’s done a great job.”

Rathbun is batting a solid .290 for the season with 12 RBIs and a team-leading 21 runs scored. She also has three doubles, two triples and two home runs. For good measure, she has walked 14 times.

“That’s why Sarah leads the team in runs. If you get on base, somebody is going to drive you in. She finds a way to get on base,” said Schneider. “She has some power, but all of those extra base hits are coming when she settles down and takes the pitch she can get.

“We thought she’d be a good fit at the lead off spot, and it’s worked out. She’s been there ever since.”

When Rathbun receives instruction from her coaches, she takes it to heart.

“Sarah is willing to listen to her coaching and make the adjustments, not just shake her head yes,” Schneider said. “I think she’s found that, with the little advice that we’ve given her, it makes her a much better hitter. So now she works on those little things that will turn her into an even more successful hitter. She’s improved a great deal since the beginning of the season.”

Rathbun’s latest exploits in the batter’s box came May 1 in the Battle of the Falls at home against Cuyahoga Falls and Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy. She singled, walked twice, had an RBI and scored two runs despite an 11-4 loss to the Black Tigers. In an 11-6 win over the Royals, she ripped a two-run homer, singled and scored twice.

Woodridge is now 7-13 overall.

Defensively, Rathbun has also made big strides this season.

“Even though we knew she had the skills to make the throws, I think Sarah was a little unsure at the start of the season,” said Schneider. “She attacks the ball more now, feels more confident about the throws that she makes.”

A member of the Woodridge Athletic Leadership Council, Rathbun doubles as a pitcher when regular starter Kendal Gregory needs a rest.

“Being young, Sarah is facing older players, so she’s had to make some adjustments on the mound,” the coach said. “When you’re coming up in the rec leagues and travel ball leagues, a lot

of times, you’re not facing 18-year-olds. I think those adjustments will come. We try not to put her into a losing situation in which she could get discouraged, and with Kendal pitching well we usually don’t have to.”

Rathbun will speak her mind, even as a freshman.

“I don’t see her stepping on the toes of our upperclassmen,” said Schneider, “but she’s not afraid to step in and do what she has to if necessary