Female Athlete of the Week: Freshman Sirbaugh handling many roles for Hawks

Rachel Sirbaugh

FRONT ROYAL – Rachel Sirbaugh isn’t an average freshman.

The Skyline softball player not only starts as a freshman, she is the catcher. On top of that, Sirbaugh is also the Hawks’ leadoff hitter.

“She’s responded well to everything she’s done,” Skyline coach John Ritter said. “There’s a lot of pressure on her, coming up, being that starting kid and then turn around and being lead off on top of it. She’s handled it real well.”

Her ability to handle all of her responsibilities were on full display last week against Warren County.

Sirbaugh had two doubles and her first career home run and four RBI’s in a 10-1 victory over cross-town rival Warren County.

She also had two hits in a 4-0 loss to James Wood later in the week. Her strong week helped earn Sirbaugh the Northern Virginia Daily’s Female Athlete of the Week for the week of March 28-April 3.

Sirbaugh said the team was really working on hitting as it got ready for the game against Warren County.

“All those practices all we did was hitting, so I think that helped me perform when it came to that,” Sirbaugh said.

She said that Ritter also helped her a lot individually with her hitting, and it paid off last week.

“The big thing we’ve been working on is balance, and staying down and driving through the ball,” Ritter said.

Sirbaugh said she was a little surprised to be named a starter this season as a freshman.

She’s had some experience with starting as a freshman as she was the starting point guard on the girls basketball team this season as well.

Sirbaugh said she first started catching when she was around 10 and her club team needed a catcher.

“I tried out for it and I just instantly fell in love with it. From then on I just caught,” Sirbaugh said. “…I like how I can see the whole field and just direct everybody. Just being around the plate, getting the ball, being able to determine where the ball’s going to go — lining it up on the plate.”

Sirbaugh said that being a catcher helps her as a hitter as well.

“Especially with our pitcher, (Tamara Grayson), she has so many different pitches that I see them all the time,” Sirbaugh said. “So when I get up to bat I can see it and know what pitch is coming and whether to swing at it or not.”

One role that has been very new for Sirbaugh this season has been the leadoff spot.

Sirbaugh said it’s the first time she’s ever hit leadoff, and it’s been an adjustment for her.

“It was a big responsibility to know that you’re the first one to face that pitcher,” Sirbuagh said. “You’re the first one to see if you’re going to hit or walk or get out or whatever. You kind of set the tone right there. So that was a big responsibility, but I stepped into it, didn’t really think about it, and just did my job as best I could.”

The Hawks are off to a 3-3 start. Sirbaugh said she thinks the Hawks are going to have a really good season as long as they stay focused.

“I think we have a really good team, if we just stay focused and stay confident that we can do some great things,” Sirbaugh said. “I think we’re going to really do good this year.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com