Competitive coaching advances softball player Rachael Freebourn
By Klara Plenk, Reporter
Since sophomore Rachael Freebourn started playing softball five years ago, it has become more than just a sport for her. Freebourn hopes to play softball in college, and is actively pursuing her goal every year.
“[Softball is] excitement, the feeling, competing with your friends on the field,” Freebourn said. “It’s up and down, a rollercoaster: you cry sometimes, you are sad and upset, but [it] makes me happy.”
Freebourn participated in basketball, track, and soccer in elementary and middle school, but she soon realized she wanted to focus solely on softball. She now plays for the high school softball team.
“[Softball] is special to me because it is … totally different,” Freebourn said. “It is more strategic, [and] once you get more in depth, it’s a whole other level of playing.”
This season, Freebourn and her teammates are hoping to reach state, a goal they feel more strongly about achieving than in previous years.
“We had a lot of new people try out [this season], and we are working on the road to victory, the road to state,” Freebourn said.
In addition to playing for the school, Freebourn wants to play softball at a higher level. In order to expand the possibility of being selected for college softball teams, Freebourn joined the Sundodgers softball team last year, a competitive select team that prepares girls for softball in a college environment.
“They are really helping us out, connecting [us] with college coaches,“ Freebourn said. “You compete more … and they push you more than the high school coaches.”
The Sundodgers have also helped Freebourn develop her skills through challenging practices and tournaments.
“At the end [of last season], I realized all the improvement,” Freebourn said. “[Before that] I didn’t really know what I was doing, getting myself into this, but I saw how much I learned … and it really paid off.”
While the athletic part of softball is important for Freebourn, she also enjoys spending time with the team.
“[The girls on the high school team] might not have the same goal as me — to play softball in college — but they all wanna make state,” Freebourn said. “They are having fun, and we push each other.”
In addition, Freebourn is really motivated by her family’s consistent support.
“[Softball] is also really important to me because of my dad,” Freebourn said. “My dad always watched me play and … he’s my rock, … my number one supporter.”
Freebourn plays in the outfield and considers her strengths to be sprinting, hitting, and catching fly balls.
“She worked so hard in the off season, and this year she is our outfield leader in center field and a force to be reckoned with in our lineup as well, regularly hitting extra base hits,” softball coach Heather Jurs said.
Additionally, her teammates recognize her consistently positive attitude.
“For me, [a good attitude] is kind of a standard I hold myself to,” Freebourn said. “When you go on the field, you just walk away from your reality … You just step out of that and you focus on [the game].”
Looking back, Freebourn thinks softball has played a key role in shaping her personality.
“[Softball] has made me stronger as a person,” Freebourn said. “It brings you down, and then it picks you back up. It showed me that not everything in life is easy, and that you have to work for things and try hard, or you’re not going to get anywhere.”