HALL OF FAME
ATHLETE OF THE MONTH
HNHS Sophomore Softball Player Commits to Kentucky
February 1, 2012Huntington North High School
Rethlake commits to Kentucky
AUSTAN KAS firstname.lastname@example.org | Wednesday, February 1, 2012
FUTURE WILDCAT - Huntington North softball standout Erin Rethlake has committed to play at the University of Kentucky. Rethlake helped the Vikes advance to the semi-state a year ago.
Erin Rethlake has always been ahead of the curve.
As a sixth grader, her pitching exploits landed her in Sports Illustrated's Faces in the Crowd feature. Last spring, she toed the rubber as a freshman hurler and led Huntington North to its first regional championship since 1994. Now - before her sophomore campaign gets under way and prior to being issued a driver's license - Rethlake has agreed to a Division I scholarship.
While taking a visit to the University of Kentucky on Sunday, her second trip to the campus, Rethlake committed to play softball for the Wildcats after her graduation in 2014, citing Kentucky's location and her bond with Wildcats' coach Rachel Lawson as the determining factors.
"I really connected with coach Lawson a lot," said Rethlake, who chose Kentucky over the University of North Carolina. "She's somebody that kind of took over as a parent figure. She made me feel like I was joining something bigger than just me as a person. I like that the campus is kind of smaller and not too far from home. I want to do physical therapy, and they have that there. Everything kind of fit together perfectly when I got there."
Rethlake, who doesn't turn 16 years old until next week, didn't disappoint in her highly anticipated freshman season, completely dominating in just about every facet of the game.
In the circle, Rethlake went 11-2 with a 0.91 ERA, allowing just 14 earned runs all year. She struck out a staggering 198 batters in 108 innings and had a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 5.66-to-1. At the plate, she led the Vikings in hits (39), batting average (.459), on-base percentage (.525), slugging percentage (.624), RBIs (23) and stolen bases (17 for 17). She blasted two home runs, one of which came in the regional win over East Noble.
"Erin is definitely a Division I talent," Huntington North coach Paris Seibold said. "She'll be a great prospect for Kentucky. She'll fit right in with the caliber of pitching at that level."
Rethlake said her recruitment heated up when she went to a college showcase tournament in Florida this past fall.
"There were a ton of college coaches there," she said. "Game after game it was coach after coach standing around and watching. By the end of the tournament, my coach told me Kentucky was coming to watch me.
"The longer you wait the more offers that are gone. A bunch of the schools I was looking at started signing girls. Kentucky watched me all last year as a freshman and always kept their eye on me."
Under Lawson, who is in her sixth season, Kentucky is a program on the rise. After going 17-37 her first year, the program has been on a steady climb, culminating with a stellar 2011. The Wildcats went 40-11 a year ago, got to host an NCAA Super Regional for the first time and finished 12th in the polls. Kentucky - which plays in the powerhouse Southeastern Conference - opens this season ranked 13th.
While on her visit to Kentucky, Rethlake got to watch the Wildcats practice and was impressed by the passion and devotion of the players. It was something she said she has wanted to be involved with since winning the ASA/USA Softball National Championship as a 10-year-old with the Indiana Thunder.
"My goal," she said, "since I started traveling has been to compete at the top level with all the California girls or Texas girls, all those people that play all year round. I want to be able to compete with the best of the best.
"When I went to the Kentucky practice (Sunday) morning, I saw all those girls and the dedication they have and love of the game they all share. Every single girl wants to be the best they can be to benefit the team and play for a College World Series title."
Rethlake said she will be a pitcher and position player for Kentucky.
"I'm going to be a pitcher mainly," she said. "When I'm not pitching, (coach Lawson) said she was going to have me play first or go to the outfield, whatever she needed me to do. She promised that I'd be a position player as well as a pitcher."