Softball: Westerville Central duo preparing for college careers

FRANK DIRENNA
fdirenna@thisweeknews.com
Emily Ruck, a Central graduate who will pitch at Ohio State, was first-team all-state last season after going 22-1 with a 0.96 ERA.

For 2020 Westerville Central graduates Cami Compson and Emily Ruck, playing softball at the collegiate level has been a longtime dream.

While Ruck committed to play for Ohio State as a freshman and is preparing to begin her career with the Buckeyes, Compson recently had to restart the recruiting process after Wright State announced June 3 that it was eliminating its softball, men's tennis and women's tennis programs, effective immediately, because of budget restraints as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

"I was devastated," said Compson, who had committed to Wright State as a sophomore. "It was so new to all of us (players). We had no idea, especially for me committing so early. I have to restart."

Wright State coach Laura Matthews and Central coach Brian Wamsley are assisting Compson in her search for a new school.

"It's been insane talking to a whole bunch of people trying to find a new plan for me and trying to find a new school, but I'm confident that I'll find a new place to go and land on my feet somewhere," Compson said. "This is a new thing because of financial struggles with the coronavirus."

Ruck, a pitcher, and Compson, an outfielder, were primed to help Central pick up where it left off last season when it went 28-3, won the OCC-Buckeye Division title and reached a Division I state semifinal before losing to Liberty Township Lakota East 4-3.

However, their senior season was canceled because of the pandemic.

"The girls and I felt like we had some unfinished business," Wamsley said. "We talked about that in the offseason. We talked about what we are going to do to (take) that next step because we were that close. We talked about not taking things for granted. We talked about preparing ourselves and getting ready for every obstacle that was in the way, and I think we were ready to make a run."

Last season, Ruck went 22-1 with a 0.96 ERA, 231 strikeouts and 73 walks in 123 2/3 innings and had a .400 batting average. She was named first-team all-state and all-district, league Player of the Year and ThisWeek Softball Athlete of the Year.

A transfer from Amanda-Clearcreek, she set the program record for wins in a season, topping the previous mark of 19 set by Paige McMenemy in 2013.

"My time at Central was short, but it was definitely memorable," Ruck said. "I had so much fun there. Coach Wamsley was one of the best coaches I've ever had."

Ruck is looking forward to her freshman season with the Buckeyes. She expects to team with incoming freshman Allison Smith of Warren Champion to give Ohio State a solid tandem in the circle.

"I'm so excited," she said. "It just gets more and more real the closer we get to that day. It's so surreal. It's an awesome thing."

Last season, Compson led the Warhawks in batting average (.600), hits (57), doubles (9), home runs (9) and RBI (53) and was first-team all-district and all-league and second-team all-state. She also was a finalist for ThisWeek Softball Athlete of the Year honors.

"It's been a few months of different disappointments," Compson said. "I'm going to miss my teammates (at Central). I think about them all the time. I think about what our season could have been. I miss seeing them, especially now when all this stuff is going down. I miss being around the coaches."

Ruck and Compson both have returned to the field with their summer club teams. Ruck is in her first season with Ohio Lady Lasers Blue, while Compson is in her fourth season with the Ohio Stingrays.

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank