Wade emerges after redshirt season for Bulldogs

By Sandy Gholston

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – Sitting on the sidelines, as a team member while not able to actually play in games, is hardly the easiest thing for a first-year college student-athlete.

Rachel Wade
Ferris State University’s Rachel Wade slaps at the ball during a trip to the plate in a game earlier this season. (Photo/Sandy Gholston)

Ferris State University redshirt freshman softball player Rachel Wade had to learn to master the physical and mental aspects of softball – at the college level – to be effective in her first true college season. No one promised it would be easy, but time has proven an effective teacher for Wade, who has paid dividends this spring for the Bulldogs. The Canton native has played in 36 of 47 games this season and started 32 times for Ferris.

“It feels nice to be able to come in and contribute to help the team in whatever way I can,” said Wade, who has helped the Bulldogs to a record of 31-16 overall after a 1-0 first-round 2008 NCAA Division II Great Lakes Region Tournament win over Saginaw Valley State in Edwardsville, Ill. “I was a little nervous in some of those earlier games of the season (in Florida) and as I had a chance to get out there a little bit more I started to feel a lot more relaxed and a lot more comfortable.”

The 5-foot-2 Wade and her teammates were triumphant in their opening-round game at the regional tournament before rain and thunderstorms began to wreak havoc at the event being hosted at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville in Edwardsville, Ill. Although rain has wreaked havoc on the tournament, with play suspended on Wednesday due to heavy rain and then delayed on Thursday with more rain, softball once again is being played. Like fans, players, coaches and NCAA officials at the regional, Wade has come to understand and appreciate the value of patience.

“During the time I was sitting out, I learned a lot about softball and I learned a lot about what it takes to be successful from watching the team, the coaches, and just from watching and being around my teammates,” said Wade, who is batting .270 this spring with 20 hits, three doubles, two triples, 12 runs batted in and a home run. “It was tough to sit out, but I feel like I learned a lot and it has helped to make me a better softball player right now.”

Ferris head softball coach Keri Becker has watched and enjoyed Wade’s progress from the time she arrived in Big Rapids until now.

“Rachel provides some sneaky power and defense-busting capabilities from the left side of the plate,” Becker said in the preseason of Wade, who was an all-state second baseman during her junior year of high school before she batted .448 as a prep senior at Canton High School. “She will also shrink the Bulldog outfield with her ability to get a good jump off the bat and cover some ground in the grass.”

The Bulldogs, seeded sixth in the region, sprung a mild upset of No. 3 Saginaw Valley State 1-0 in the opening round. Weather permitting Friday morning, Ferris is scheduled to take on No. 2 Lewis, which defeated West Virginia Wesleyan 4-3 in eight innings of a rain-suspended contest at Cougar Field.

If you have any questions, ideas or comments feel free to contact Sandy Gholston at sgholston2@netzero.com

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