43 Feet Ahead

Junior softball pitcher's road to college softball

Abbey Kegley, Staff Writer

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She stands in the center of the pitching mound, eyes narrowed straight ahead. Home plate sits 43 feet away. The pitcher swings her arm back by her side, and with a swift windmill motion overhead, a quick flick of the wrist, and release, the softball races over home plate. The batter swings, and the sound of the softball landing comfortably in the catcher’s glove hits her ears. Before the umpire even says it, she knows the game is over.

For junior Kate Rehberg, this feeling, the exhilarating rush she has been chasing her whole life, has become no stranger to her. But it’s not what she’s chasing anymore.

This past January, she committed to the University of Michigan as a pitcher. Michigan is one of the highest standing college softball teams in the U.S.; they ranked 2nd in the Big Ten Conference   and 20th nationally.

Rehberg began playing softball when she was 5-years old, but she really started honing in on her softball career when she began playing competitively.

“I think I was 10 or 11,” Rehberg said. “I finally realized  I wanted to be a pitcher, and I got kind of good at it.”

With 313 strikeouts against a total of 854 batters,  Rehberg earned a  2.06% ERA, or Earned Run Average, in her sophomore year and set the school strikeout record with a total of 591 over two years. Her freshman year was when colleges throughout the Midwest started taking notice of her however. After 14 months of recruiting, Rehberg made the decision to commit to Michigan.

“Kate was at a December tournament in Florida when Michigan saw her. They invited her for an early January visit. They offered and she committed a couple weeks later,” Varsity Softball Coach John Swoboda said.

Rehberg has proven herself as a pitcher to her softball coaches and the admissions at Michigan, however it is difficult not to feel intimidated by the prospects of a college level team, especially as a junior in high school.

“I think it’ll just be super high-level competition all the time because it’s just the best athletes in the country playing,” Rehberg said.

Within the team, Rehberg displays excellent leadership skills with all the team members, the freshman on the team especially.

“Kate really looks out for the younger players making sure they understand what is happening and expectations. Kate is an intense competitor and players will feed off of that,” Swoboda said.

And with a final strikeout the game has reached its end, the Mustangs storming the field and surrounding their pitcher.  This season has seen plenty of successes but a fair share of struggles. As the team of 14 gets into the swing of things, both Swoboda and Rehberg have no doubt they’re in for an incredibly successful season.

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