What was best for the Grove City High School softball team has not always been best for Kaitlin Rice.

What was best for the Grove City High School softball team has not always been best for Kaitlin Rice.

A senior second baseman and shortstop, Rice had been waiting her turn to play throughout most of this season. After sophomore third baseman Rachael Ash was injured in a 9-2 loss to Pickerington Central on April 16, Rice made the most of her chance.

She not only has taken over at third base, but hit a double and a sacrifice fly in a 20-1 win over Reynoldsburg on April 20.

"I've worked hard to prove myself and I finally got the opportunity to play my senior year," Rice said. "I was really excited. I've made the best of it."

"(Rice and fellow senior Brooke Staten) are strong enough to be on the varsity, but these younger players have been starting ahead of them," said coach Ted Williams, whose team was 16-2 overall and 8-1 in the OCC-Ohio Division before facing Lancaster on April 25. "You'd think something like that would take away the love of the game from them, but it hasn't."

Rice wasn't sure how long she would fill in for Ash, who was struck in the elbow by a pitch against Central. Williams said even if Rice wasn't starting, she would continue to be a team leader.

Staten and Rice, two of the Greyhounds' six seniors, have been vocal in team meetings and have helped bring along the underclassmen.

Rice said the Greyhounds came back from their spring break trip with a greater sense of camaraderie. Grove City went 5-0 and outscored opponents 52-6 to win its division of the Grand Strand Softball Classic, which was held April 9-12 in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Grove City defeated Sinclairville (N.Y.) Cassadaga Valley 13-0 on April 9, Fairfax (Va.) Paul VI Catholic 7-2 on April 10, Sandusky 13-2 and Conway (S.C.) 13-0 on April 11 and Louisville (Ky.) Pleasure Ridge Park 6-2 on April 12.

But for Rice, the trip was about more than just softball.

"It was a great bonding experience," she said. "We played a lot of games, but we had free time to bond and do a lot of activities."

"Both Rice and Staten came back to the team (this season) even though they knew their playing time could be kind
of limited," Williams said. "You couldn't tell if they were starters or never got to play by the way they conduct themselves in practice. It speaks very highly of them."

Rice said she is happy with her role.

"I feel like I have to be a good role model to get us to be where we want to be," she said. "Yeah, it's been hard, but everyone on the team has to prove themselves."

Williams has great respect for Staten and Rice.

"A lot of girls who play softball are starters on their summer ball teams," he said. "It's difficult for them to be role players on their high school team.

"I've talked with a lot of varsity coaches who have had problems (dealing with those kinds of players). It's hard
for some players to come in and do what is best for the team. The younger players are learning from those two girls."

Comets preparing for Prebis tournament

Central Crossing expects to be tested when it travels to northeast Ohio to play in the Prebis Memorial Classic. The Comets play Copley on Friday, April 27, and Elyria on Saturday, April 28, at LaGrange Keystone.

"It's one of the toughest high school tournaments in the state," said coach Rona Dorsey, whose team was 16-2 overall and 9-0 in the OCC-Central before facing Upper Arlington on April 24. "A lot of the best high schools go up there to play. It's just the challenge of playing in that environment. Everyone has to bring their 'A' game to win."

Central Crossing went 1-2 there last year, defeating North Canton Hoover 5-4 and losing to Poland Seminary 2-0 and Elyria 6-4.
On April 21, the Comets lost 2-0 to Lebanon, which was ranked second in last week's Division I state poll, behind Hoover. Elyria was third and the Comets were fourth.

"I think we learn more from the losses than we did from our wins," Dorsey said. "We play good teams so that we can become better."