Sports

Fastpitch team at Vanguard U. gets on a Rolle

"Rachael Rolle was all set to head north when a teammate from her Kitsap Braves summer fastpitch team turned her in the opposite direction.Gig Harbor's Jenny Willis suggested that her new college coach that Rolle might prefer playing fastpitch. It didn't take much after that for Rolle to eschew Western Washington University, where she would've had to walk on to the women's basketball team, and sign with Vanguard University of Costa Mesa, Calif. to play fastpitch.Jenny knew about us first, said Vanguard coach Beth Renkoski. We were talking about needing a catcher, and she said, 'Well, I have a 6-foot-2 friend.'We thought she might want to play basketball, Renkoski added. It wasn't until we got her down for a visit that we thought we might have a chance to get her.As it turned out, the Lions had more than a chance. After having their catcher position shredded by injuries and illnesses in 2000, they were in a position to offer Rolle the thing she wanted most - playing time - in addition to a quality education. I'll have a chance to start as a freshman, said Rolle, who graduated last month from Klahowya Secondary School. They've got another catcher, but when I'm not playing there it sounds like I'll be at first base, third base or in the outfield.She'll be playing, Renkoski confirmed. The thing we liked about her is that she's so versatile. She can play three or four positions. We'll be able to keep her in the lineup, even when she's not catching.Except at the Division 1 level, it's rare for a kid to move as well as Rachael does at any position, let alone catcher, Renkoski added.Rolle also played basketball and soccer at Klahowya. She was a first-team All-Olympic League selection for two years in both fastpitch, where she played catcher, and basketball, where she was the Eagles' leading scorer and rebounder. She played a central defender position on Klahowya's state Class 2A champion soccer team.Rolle had been leaning toward walking on to the women's basketball team at Western Washington University until the offer came from Vanguard - located southeast of Los Angeles on the Southern California coast.I like basketball, too, but I've always wanted to coach fastpitch, she said, so getting that college experience was really important to me. She added that the small-school atmosphere on the 1,400-student Vanguard campus scored points with her, too.I really liked that small community feeling, she said of the former Southern California College, located minutes from several of the more famed Los Angeles beaches and within a tape-measure home run of attractions like Disneyland, Hollywood and San Diego. I wanted to go to a small school.And, no, the beach won't be a distraction, she added without being prompted."

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