Roudabush learning, adjusting at Akron
Since graduating from Hilliard Bradley High School in 2011, Kellie Roudabush has fielded new obstacles coming at her from different directions.
The three-time all-state softball player is hoping her experiences will propel her to a standout junior season next year at the University of Akron.
"There's a big difference in the ability of the players and the quickness of the game," Roudabush said. "But the biggest thing I've learned is time management and the amount of time it takes to be successful on the diamond and in the classroom."
Roudabush started her career with the Zips as a third baseman and education major. But when she returned from an ankle injury in her freshman season, coach Julie Jones moved her to second base.
"It took awhile to adjust to playing on that side of the infield and the ball coming off the bat at a different angle," Roudabush said. "With more right-handed batters than left-handed, the ball does come off their bats different when you're playing second base. What I like about it, though, is that if I bobble the ball, I still usually have time to make the throw to first base."
Roudabush also switched her major to nursing and received her letter of acceptance to enter the nursing program in mid-June. She has a 3.75 GPA.
"Kellie is just a great, great kid," Jones said. "I'm extremely pleased with her. I think she's going to have a breakout season next year. She's going to be a leader for us and she's part of a terrific class that we think we'll turn this program around.
"What I really like about her is the high expectations she has of herself. That makes her a hard worker. She's a very thoughtful young lady who is honest to herself and her ideals and is very trustworthy."
Akron finished 23-28 overall and 8-14 in the Mid-American Conference this spring.
Hitting second in the order, Roudabush started every game. She led the Zips with 10 multi-hit games and struck out just 16 times in 187 plate appearances. She scored 30 runs and had nine doubles and 15 RBI, and also had a .957 fielding percentage.
Although Roudabush was disappointed to bat .270 after hitting .283 with 10 doubles and 12 stolen bases as a freshman, she was second on the team in average.
Roudabush was among the top-ranked prospects in the state coming out of Bradley, but she was on Jones' radar long before that.
"We saw her play (for Hilliard Darby) in the state tournament (in a semifinal against Elyria in 2009)," Jones said. "She was pitching and took a line drive off her face and (coach Kevin Moody) had to take her out of the game. She came right back into the game maybe an inning later.
"I was astounded and I told (the coaching staff), 'She's tough, and I want her. She's going to play for us.'"
Darby lost the semifinal 2-0 and Bradley opened the following season.
Because she switched majors, Roudabush said she is behind schedule in terms of graduating in four years.
"It will probably take me five years, but that's pretty typical for an athlete anyway," she said. "I have very little free time between playing softball and my studies. Sometimes we have three- or four-hour practices and then lifting. Three days a week during the offseason, we had 6 a.m. practices. During the season, I study on the bus on the way to and from games, even though it makes me sick and I have to take Dramamine when I do.
"It takes a lot more discipline and time-management skills than you would think when you first arrive at college."
Roudabush is staying busy this summer by working two jobs, one at Dick's Sporting Goods and the other in the home health-care field taking care of elderly patients. She's also coaching Bradley softball players on weekends.
Jones thinks that maturity and work ethic on and off the field will pay dividends for Roudabush the next two seasons.
"It's an adjustment for any high-caliber athlete when they reach college, live without parents and compete on a more even level of competition," Jones said. "They have to work harder to achieve more. She's got that routine all down now and she'll come back smarter and stronger next year, and I just have that feeling that everything she's done to this point is going to pay off in her last two seasons."