Rebekah Yenrick beginning senior year as a Rocket

In 2019, University of Toledo sophomore outfielder Rebekah Yenrick (Clay) was a key starting element to the Rockets earning a bid to the NCAA Division I softball tournament. 

Toledo coach Joe Abraham said Yenrick had been on his recruiting radar all along.

“Bekah is someone I tried to recruit when I was at Hillsdale, so I’ve known her for six or seven years now,” Abraham said. “She is steady, reliable and a great teammate.  She can flat out hit and no pitcher overmatches her.  We have her focusing almost solely on her hitting this year because that is where she helps our team.  She has great gap power with occasional home run pop.”

Yenrick made an impact immediately at UT. Her freshman year at Toledo, she appeared in 45 games, starting 35 and hitting .271 with 96 at-bats, nine runs, 26 hits, five doubles, three home runs and 21 RBIs. She slugged .417 and reached bases in eight straight games. She recorded six RBIs against MAC opponent Ball State in early May, tying for the most RBIs in a single game in program history.

In 2019, the 5-foot-6 outfielder started in 52 of 55 games played and posted a .252 average in 123 at-bats. She scored 14 runs and recorded 31 hits, including eight doubles and one home run. She registered 26 RBIs and had a season-high two hits at Dayton, three RBIs at Northern Illinois and scored twice against Drake. She helped lead Toledo to the Mid-American Conference tournament championship.

As a junior, Yenrick started in 19 of 20 games before the coronavirus pandemic hit during their spring trip, canceling the rest of the season. Ten starts came in right field with nine as designated player, recording a .184 batting average in 49 at-bats, collecting three doubles and tallying two hits against Texas Southern on Feb. 7.

“Bekah actually hit better than the stats showed last year,” Abraham said. “We had a short season and she hit one line drive after another right at someone, so her average probably should have been 100 points higher with any luck at all.”


Pandemic brings sudden end

When the season suddenly came to an end, Abraham said it was a shock to everyone.

“When our season ended we had just gone through the most difficult stretch of our schedule, playing Tennessee, Stanford and Indiana in four of our last eight games, plus three more against Butler and South Dakota State, who each finished 15-8,” Abraham wrote in an opinion piece on the UT athletic website. “We had really challenged ourselves and it was paying off.  Our lineup was starting to come together, and our pitchers had really good outings in their last games in Florida.  We were ready for the MAC to begin.

“It was really strange playing on that final Thursday (March 12).  We knew the NBA had shut it down, the Ivy League was done and it was clear that this would probably be our last day.  After we beat South Dakota State we had about an hour before our game with Indiana and we were just hanging out, having lunch and hearing all kinds of things. 

“We learned that the Big Ten had canceled all spring sports, so we were wondering whether Indiana was going to come over and let us know they couldn’t play.  We played the game anyway, and had just finished the post-game handshake when the NCAA announced its spring championships were going to be canceled,” Abraham added. 

“At that point we knew we were done. We were literally standing on the field ­— players, coaches, parents, grandparents. Everyone.  About an hour later when we were at dinner, the MAC came out with its decision. Everyone was checking their phones constantly, so we all got the news at the same time.  Looking back at it now, it’s odd to think about how we went about normal activities at the beach, restaurants and other tourist activity in the next couple of days before heading home to Toledo.”


Adjustments made this fall

Even though the Mid-American Conference has canceled fall sports, the softball team has begun its fall practice, giving Yenrick another chance to get on the field her senior year. Some seniors had opted out, but not Yenrick.

A typical fall season normally consists of four to five weekends of games against other schools. That cannot happen, so Abraham is making some adjustments.

“We’re going to play 15 intra-squad scrimmages. We have a large roster so that makes it easy for us to play some games.  We’re going to bring in one umpire behind home plate and treat them like regular games. It’s going to be important to get in some actual games because our players from last year haven’t played a game in nearly six months,” Abraham said.

Abraham said that despite the spring cancelation, many players were able to get on the field as part of summer teams.

“A few of them could play a little bit during the summer in some 23-and-under tournaments. They were limited, though, because they have summer jobs or internships.  There will be quite a bit of rustiness for them to shake off. On the other hand, our freshmen played a full summer of travel ball where they played 50-60 games so they’re ready to go. Everybody’s at a different place and we need to get everyone up to speed,” Abraham said.

“Our team already has played a big role in getting ready to play. We have a ton of competition within our team which is driving them to get better. They have been coming in and taking extra reps in our indoor hitting facility since school started two weeks ago. Now that we’re able to practice 20 hours a week, we’re going to do everything we can to maximize everybody’s reps. We’re going to use our first couple of weeks of practice to figure out our defensive positions the best we can. After that, we’re going to get right into it and start playing games.”

At Clay, Yenrick was a four-year letter winner, earning second team All-Ohio as a senior and honorable mention all-state honors as a junior. She was a three-time all-district and four-time All-Three Rivers Athletic Conference selection.She led the team in doubles, RBIs, walks, batting average and fielding percentage as a junior, and is the single season school record holder in home runs, doubles, RBIs and fielding percentage. She is also the career school record holder in RBIs, home runs and batting average at Clay. 

(— by Press Sports Editor J. Patrick Eaken and UT athletic department press releases. Photo courtesy UT Athletics)









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