Softball: Versatile senior trio give Lake Central a big boost
BY JOHN O’MALLEY Post-Tribune correspondent March 27, 2013 11:06PM
Seniors (from left) Alyssa Childress, third base/catcher; Abbey Rauch, first base, and Kayla Bishton, outfield, are photographed during softball practice at Lake Central High School in St. John, Ind. Friday March 15, 2013. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Andrean scored six runs in the first inning of the Class 3A state final against Edgewood and never looked back, winning 9-2 to capture its third state title (1998, 2007). It was a great sendoff for Kaitlin Barajas, who went 3-for-4 in the championship, and Nikki Steinbach, the Post-Tribune player of the year, who struck out 11 in her finale to finish with a 25-2 record.
Chesterton won a regional title with an improbable 10-8 victory over Lake Central, which had only one loss coming into the game, while the Trojans had 10. The Trojans lost in the semistate to Huntington North.
Other region teams who won sectional titles were Washington Township, South Central, Griffith and Lake Station, which won its first crown in 10 years.
Updated: April 29, 2013 12:24PM
ST. JOHN — Lake Central softball coach Jeff Sherman is blessed with a trio of players any coach would love to put on his lineup card every game.
Seniors Kayla Bishton, Abbey Rauch and Alyssa Childress — who might eventually earn the nickname ‘The Terrific Triplets’ — are as versatile as they are talented.
Each of them will be playing a new position this year.
Bishton, who played right field the past two seasons — after playing first base her freshman year — moves to center field. The Radford University-bound athlete becomes LC’s “quarterback” in the outfield as she moves over to fill the void created when Kaitlyn Ranieri — now playing at VU — graduated.
Rauch started in the circle as a No. 2 pitcher and was a backup first baseman as a freshman. A year ago, Rauch was a clutch situational hitter and a designated player, but is now the Indians’ first baseman.
Rauch, who will play at the University of St. Francis Fort Wayne next year, will try and fill the shoes of departed LC star Nikki Adams — now at Indiana University.
Last, but not least, there’s Childress. A talented catcher, who takes her behind-the-plate skills down the line to third base.
Bound for Grandview University (Des Moines, Iowa.) Childress takes over for the graduated Morgan Moseley at the hot corner as junior Melanie Pabon is LC’s backstop.
“Alyssa brings a catcher’s mentality for us at third base,’’ Sherman said. “She’s a good fielder, has a good arm, and is a pretty good hitter, too. She brings that stick-your-nose-down and get tough attitude. She’s calm, collected and a kid who doesn’t get rattled.’’
Versatility is something Childress said her dad preached growing up.
“He always said to have backup positions, because coaches would be looking for that when I got older,’’ she said. “My college coach liked the fact I could play multiple positions instead of just being a catcher.’’
Childress wanted to play third base as a freshman at LC, but was asked by Sherman to play catcher instead.
“I’m pretty confident in my third base skills,’’ she said. “I feel that I have good foot work and know what to do, because I’ve been playing it so long. I’m looking forward to the challenge.’’
Rauch, who started eight games as a pitcher as a freshman, was asked to move back down to the junior varsity team to work on her first base skills as a sophomore.
A year ago, she backed up Adams and had a penchant for delivering clutch hits in critical situations as the DP or pinch-hitter.
“When they told me they were moving me down to JV, I was upset, but I didn’t want to show it,’’ Rauch said. “It was hard to accept. I wanted to show them I was willing to work and do anything it would take to play. All I wanted to do was be on the field.’’
Knowing she’s now the regular at first is exciting for her.
“I’m ready and want to shine this year,’’ Rauch said. “I want everyone to notice like ‘Wow. She was there the whole time and we knew she could do this all along.’ My favorite thing is knowing my name is going to be announced in the lineup (regularly). I’m kind of that unheard of girl.’’
Having paid her dues, Rauch can’t wait to help the team each game.
“That’s what I was waiting for — the payoff,’’ she said. “I think this year it’s going to be like: ‘Finally, I did it.’’
The biggest change might be for Bishton. Playing center field after two years in right, is a big change.
“I’m excited about the opportunity,’’ she said. “It’s always cool to try new positions. I love playing different positions. It’s fun. I love the fact that I can play infield (freshman year) and then if I have to — be in the outfield because I have the practice and skills to do so. It was great watching Kat (Ranieri), because I learned a lot from her. I feel like she’s helped me a lot.
“It will be a tough transition from right to center because they’re so different, but I feel like Sherm and everyone is great. They give me really good confidence, so I feel like I can really make that step. I think the hardest part is going to be able to read the ball. It’s totally different angles coming off the bat. I think the toughest part for me is reading that angle.’’
Bishton willingly moved to center field because she knew it was something the team needed. She also relished the opportunity and challenge of playing another new position.
“It’s crazy that you have this position of yours and then something happens and you need to switch, but you’re willing to help your team like that,’’ Bishton explained. “We’re all so versatile. It’s so cool that we have a group of girls — and we even have other girls — who can play multiple positions.’’