Softball: Dublin Coffman graduate Rylee Anspach excited to return to field
With travel and youth sports given clearance in late May to return, Rylee Anspach was among those who couldn't wait to get back on a softball field.
The 2020 Dublin Coffman graduate didn't get a chance to compete for the Shamrocks in her senior season as spring sports were canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, but she was scheduled to play in her first tournament with the Firecrackers Ohio 18U travel team during the first weekend of June in Findlay.
The Firecrackers, who draw most of their players from central Ohio, were scheduled to compete in six tournaments this summer while following protocols set forth by Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
"It's really exciting because I missed my senior season," said Anspach, an Ohio Wesleyan commit. "I honestly didn't know if we were going to be able to play this summer, but I'm really excited to be able to play. We've not been able to do anything at all with our teams, so it's been hard because softball is a team sport that you really can't do by yourself."
Anspach, who played mostly at shortstop or third base for the Shamrocks, has used a batting net to keep her hitting skills sharp the past few months. She also lives by a park and has gone out with a friend at times to practice defense.
After hitting .500 as a sophomore when Coffman went 13-12 and lost in the second round of the Division I district tournament, Anspach helped the Shamrocks go 15-15 and reach a district final last spring.
Last year in a regular-season contest against Marysville, Coffman trailed 7-3 entering the bottom of the seventh inning but rallied for a walk-off, 8-7 victory.
"We hadn't beaten Marysville for over 12 years and we were down in the bottom of the seventh and came back and won," said Anspach, who led the Shamrocks in home runs (7) and RBI (30) last season. "The bases were loaded and we were down 7-4 and I had a bases-clearing double to tie it. The next girl went up to bat and hit a pop fly foul ball. I tagged up and went to third, (the Monarchs) overthrew it and I ended up scoring the winning run. It was really exciting and everyone rushed the field. We had a goal that we wanted to beat Marysville at least once and we did it."
Coffman entered last year's postseason at 11-14 and as the No. 19 seed, but upset 16th-seeded Westerville North 7-5 and sixth-seeded Lancaster 4-3 to reach a district final for the first time since 2009.
The Shamrocks lost to 12th-seeded Grove City 6-1 in a district final.
Pitcher Kelsi Anderson, a 2020 graduate and a Slippery Rock commit, also was expected to have a big season for Coffman this spring after recording 118 strikeouts a year ago.
"We were ready to rock and roll this year," coach Scott Tillman said. "We were primed, and the way we were practicing, I didn't see a lot of issues with the team. Rylee can play anywhere, but her hitting stands out. I was looking at her to hit close to 12 to 15 home runs this spring. She had a dominating summer for her travel team last year, including some massive bombs, but she certainly has that capability. She loves to play and loves to win."
According to Tillman, Anspach's best position could be first base.
"(Ohio Wesleyan coach Cassie Cunningham) contacted me and would talk to me at tournaments," said Anspach, who is considering studying psychology or sociology. "When I went to visit, I fell in love with the campus because it's so compact and it just felt like home because it's super close to my house, too. I looked at John Carroll, but it's a little too far. I'm definitely a homebody."