Potomac State softball looking for big things in 2021
By Chapin Jewell
KEYSER - Under the leadership of head coach Craig Rotruck, the Potomac State softball program is building on past successes and making every effort to make the program as outstanding as it can be. A winning program on and off the field, that’s the goal.
Along those lines, recent facilities improvements associated with the softball program solidifies the college’s commitment to the program and will optimize the experience for those in the program.
“Everything has been done through fundraising or donations. We put some sod in around the dugouts and around home plate to decorate the ballpark and help with water issues. We built a clubhouse that holds 20 state-of-the-art lockers, bathrooms for the public, laundry room, coaches room,” Rotruck explained.
According to Rotruck, “The goal is to have the luxuries like a lot of Division 1 programs have with the dorms, the facilities, the education. We’re just trying to keep up with the other schools and it helps with recruiting.”
Rotruck and his squad were ready to hit the ground running in 2020, but the COVID pandemic had other plans. While the entire season was lost, fortunately nobody lost any eligibility. On top of that, for those playing in this the 2021 season, the NJCAA is considering it a free year and it will not count against eligibility.
“We were fortunate that all but two of those kids returned this year,” Rotruck stated. “So, we had 10 girls from last year’s team that decided to stick with it, came back in the fall, and are now back with us again in the spring. We’re very excited about that. We like to think that they are still very interested and want to come back and play for the coaching staff, and that’s a big compliment for us.
“We’re ready to roll. We’re off now for a few days to get ready for Saturday. Once Saturday gets here, we’re going to be 100 miles per hour, it will be full speed ahead.”
The Lady Catamounts have a current roster of 16 players. This includes five players listed as sophomores that played on the 2019 squad, five players listed as COVID freshman who would have played if there had been a 2020 season, and six true freshmen. Rotruck had something to say about each player:
Katlynn Rasnake (sophomore, Buffalo, West Virginia, Buffalo High School)
“Right now, we have her as one of our mainstays as a leadoff hitter. She’s a lefty/slap type player. For Coach Walton, she hit .354 and scored 28 runs as a freshman. She is mainly going to play the outfield.”
Taylor Townsend (sophomore, Franklin, West Virginia, Pendleton County High School)
“She was the No. 1 pitcher for Coach Walton in 2019; she had 12 wins along with seven losses and two saves. She also will pitch and hit for us. For Coach Walton, she hit .402 and had 27 RBIs. Right now, she’s our No. 1 pitcher going into the year. We’re hoping her leadership and experience will help get us through the Region XX schedule that we have.”
Allison Leighty (sophomore, Cresaptown, Allegany High School)
“She will be a utility player, an infielder and an outfielder. For Coach Walton in 2019, she hit .452 with 36 RBIs and scored 54 runs.”
Camryn Blacka (sophomore, Keyser, Keyser High School)
“She’s a Keyser girl, a catcher. She hit .279 and had a couple home runs in her freshman year.”
Josie Deneen (sophomore, Hyndman, Pennsylvania, Hope for Hyndman High School)
“For Coach Walton in 2019, she hit .491 with 16 home runs and 61 RBIs. She’s going to be a utility infielder, a first and third player. She really sticks out. When you watch her take batting practice, you really see something.”
Haylee Clendenin (COVID freshman, Seth, West Virginia, Sherman High School)
“She’s going to be one of our middle-infielders. She came off of a very good high school program that won the state championship, and we’re looking for some bug things out of her this year. She has some big skills, and we’re hoping she can put it all together and have a big year for us.”
Lexi Strawderman (COVID freshman, Wardensville, East Hardy High School)
“She’s going to be an outfielder, a centerfielder. She’s a lefty/slap kind of hitter, extremely fast, and a great defensive outfielder.”
Marissa Earle (COVID freshman, Petersburg, Petersburg High School)
“We’re hoping she brings in some great leadership coming off of the Petersburg team, where they traveled to the state tournament a few years. She is looking to be competing in the middle infield also.”
Aubrey Smith (COVID freshman, Keyser, Keyser High School)
“Aubrey is a local girl from Keyser. She’s a utility player and a pitcher. We’re hoping Aubrey can step up and get us some good quality innings in the circle, and also, whenever called upon, to be able to swing the bat for us. We’re looking for some big things out of her.”
Skylar Ross (COVID freshman, Corriganville, Maryland, Mountain Ridge High School)
“She’s a standout player, a catcher/utility player form up at Mountain Ridge. She swings a very good bat, we’re going to ask a lot out of Skylar. She’s going to have to help us pitch and catch, so we’re looking at her having a big season for us also.”
Brianne Stocks (freshman, Inwood, West Virginia, Musselman High School)
“She is bidding for the number one pitching position/third baseman. Brianne is out of Musselman, comes from a very good family and has a couple sisters and so forth that have went on to play college softball. We’re looking for some big things out of her in the circle and with the bat.”
Madison Whetzel (freshman, Petersburg, Petersburg High School)
“Madison is a utility type player and pitcher from Petersburg. She played with a couple of those teams that went on and played at the state tournament. We have high hopes with her in the circle as a pitcher, and as a first baseman that can swing the bat. So, we’re looking for big things out of her.”
Olivia Hess (freshman, Flintstone, Maryland, Fort Hill High School)
“Olivia comes from a very good program down at Fort Hill. She’s a good defensive player at third base and swings a good bat. We’re hoping that things go well with her. She can help us.”
Aurora Slusher (freshman, Washington, West Virginia, Parkersburg South High School)
“She is an outfielder and with Aurora comes a lot of speed defensively, and she is looking to compete out there for one of the three outfield spots.”
Alexis Bailey (freshman, Sissonville, Sissonville High School)
“Alexis comes in as a utility infielder/outfielder, and she’s probably going to see some time in the circle. She’s been working hard and things have been working out for her here in practice.”
Keeliegh Megargee (freshman, Martinsburg, Spring Mills High School
“She is a very talented player that comes out of Spring Mills High School, a catcher and outfielder. She comes from a very good program there at Spring Mills. We’re expecting her to be able to step in and play numerous positions. She led the team in hitting and some other things in our fall season, so we’re looking for big things out of her in the spring.”
In addition to a quality roster, Rotruck also believes he has a quality coaching staff.
“Richie Thompson, assistant coach, he came with me from Keyser. He is our recruiting coordinator also. Then we have John Leighty, he was an assistant coach at Allegany High School. We have DJ Anderson who came with me of course from Keyser. Then we have Charlie Kuykendall, who was a former player of mine back in 1995/1996, he’s helping us with our hitting and so forth,” Rotruck explained.
“Then we’ve been very blessed with our strength and conditioning coach Scott Huffman. We’ve been extremely happy with the results we have been getting from our team when they work out with him. We’ve been injury free, he does s first-class, up-to-date, state-of-the-art workout. We get the girls to do softball-specific workouts,” Rotruck stated.
Everything is pointing in a positive direction for the Potomac State softball program for the 2021 season and beyond. As for the 2021 outlook?
According to Rotruck, “We want to compete for a conference championship. Coach Walton did it and four years in a row he went to the World Series. That’s our goal: win the conference tournament and hopefully advance to the World Series and keep it rolling.”