Four Oak Harbor seniors ‘embrace the challenge’

J. Patrick Eaken

The Oak Harbor softball team began the year with the motto “Embrace the Challenge,” but no one expected the challenge would be about not playing at all because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Coach Chris Rawski felt his team had what it took to contend for a Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division title.
"This team (had) tremendous potential for an excellent season. They work very hard each and every day at practice,” Rawki said.
The team, like all other spring sports teams, started conditioning and practice, but did not even get a scrimmage in. Rawski said they did not even get a team photo taken. It hurts the most for four seniors — Shelby Adkins, Olivia Rahm, Katie Shadoan and Jazmyn Jefferson.
“Each individually brought so much to the class, the program, but also collectively as a group they were leaders,” Rawski said. “Olivia Rahm was a starter for four years, the others had to kind of wait for an opportunity and their senior year was going to be their year to shine. You feel for all of them in different ways because they had an opportunity to be leaders of a program with a little bit of a tradition now. You feel awful. It’s hard to put into words. They’ll be missed.”
They were coming back from a team that went 15-11 last year, including 8-4 in the Bay Division, good enough for second place. They won the Croll Tournament and this year Rawski was to enter his ninth season with a career mark of 160-73.
Rahm batted .345 with 81 hits, 58 runs, 56 RBIs, nine doubles, five triples, and two home runs. This would have been her fourth year on the varsity. She was an Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press first team second baseman last year.
The good news for Rahm is she will continue playing volleyball this fall at Terra State Community College, which is restarting its athletic teams. An honorable mention All-Press selection last fall, when she loves the game and when she heard Terra was going to have a team, she jumped on it. She will major in agriculture-business but was looking forward to her final year of softball.
“We actually had a very young team, so I thought that we could really evolve as a whole team. I knew maybe at the beginning of the season it would be a little bit rough, but working towards the end, the final tournaments, I thought we would be a stronger team because we all bond so well together. We truly love each other. We truly wanted to play softball together,” Rahm said.
Seniors best of friends
When Rahm talks about her three classmates, you can tell they are the best of friends and have remained so through the COVID-19 crisis.
“The four of us talk about things — we do it virtually. All three of them, as a whole, are just amazing and we all bond so well together — us four,” Rahm said.
Adkins, a third baseman, was to play her second season of varsity softball.
“I love Shelby — she can give you a good story anytime,” Rahm said. “She loves to tell stories. I could talk to her about anything. She was another one of the captains along with me and Lauren St. Clair, who is a junior (outfielder). Shelby is definitely a very vocal person and she could get along with anybody. She was a great asset to the team moving up to varsity with us. She took on third base really well.”
Jefferson, an outfielder and designated player, is in her fourth season on the varsity team but missed 2018 because of an injury. Rahm respects the manner in which she came back from that injury.
“Jaz Jefferson, she is just crazy strong, crazy funny,” Rahm said. “She is one of my favorite people to play with and talk to. She just jokes all the time. She could make a joke about anything.
“She, in practice, worked as hard as she could and once she tore her ACL her sophomore year in basketball in one of the first games — it was tough for her to come back and she tried as hard as she could, and being hurt, she ended up playing in the JV game and a lot of the varsity games and she really made the most of it,” Rahm continued.
“She was still involved, and she worked so hard to come back and play with us and get her chance to really show what she could do for softball. I mean, she could hit the ball and I don’t know how far it went. She hit balls into the parking lot in practice, she is that strong. So, I mean, she is just a phenomenal player, too.”
Shadoan was also to play her second varsity season in the outfield and as a DP. One of her assets was the speed she brought to the base paths.
“Katie Shadoan is so fast, and she is an asset to the team when we need her. She is a great base runner — so fast,” Rahm said. “She probably could have set the stolen bases record this year if Coach would have let her just go on her own. She is such a great player as well.”
Rahm has the greatest respect for Rawski and how he continues to lead the team, even through this crisis.
“As everybody knows, he is such a great coach. I’ve never seen somebody care so much about softball,” Rahm said. “During the game, he’s thinking about stuff we need to do in practice, and before the game the next day he would tell us on the way home on the bus and in the dugout, ‘Hey, this is what we’ve got to do.’ He’s always trying to tweak our game to make sure we are the best that we can be. The team motto this year was ‘Embrace the Challenge,’ and I mean, we’ve gotten quite the challenge this year.”
She said his hitting strategy and ability to work with younger players was one of the reasons the Rockets have always done better than the preseason prognosticators would predict.
With Coach, every single swing that you would take in practice, he always wanted us to hit with so much power. It matters how you contact the ball, but he said if you can hit with as much power as you can just so you know that you are hitting that hard,” Rahm said.
“He’s always making us talk, he wants us to understand the game, and we had a whole bunch of freshmen this year and he took the time out of practice to help them, make sure that they know what was working, and the varsity players needed to say, ‘Hey freshmen, come here — I’ll tell you what you need to do,’ and he let us do that. He worked so hard in practice helping those girls who needed the help.”
Rahm agrees with Rawski that this year’s team would contend, despite being so young.
“Most people didn’t think that we were going to be that good, but better than what we’ve been in the years past. It’s always a surprise to some people who don’t think that we should have that potential,” Rahm said.


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