Caiti Rhodes’ leadership didn’t come about by accident. A four-year letterwinner for the Medina softball team, the shortstop is as much a student of the game as her former teammates.
The Bees don’t elect team captains, instead giving their seniors a chance to take over the reins when it’s time.
Rhodes is one-part Vanessa Scoarste another part Jessica Holzman and every bit the leader they were.
“The seniors in the past taught me to always think about the team and make everything about them, because in the end it really doesn’t matter who gets the job done as long as the job gets done,” Rhodes said. “It just needs to be about the team and not specific people. I think this team does a really good job of that.”
Rhodes has gone about her important role by blending in with fellow seniors Rachael Solomon, Amanda Holzman, Stephanie Boccio and Cassy Ulry.
It’s worked to near perfection so far, as Medina (17-7) heads into a Barberton Division I District semifinal today against Walsh Jesuit (15-5).
“Caiti is definitely a strong leader on and off the field,” Bees coach Jessica Toocheck said. “She takes great pride in developing great relationships with each one of the girls. During the offseason, she was always trying to get things going to get the girls to understand the level of commitment that is needed to be successful. She took great pride in the fact it was her turn to lead in the way the others before led her.
“For Caiti, a lot of times it’s been leading by example. She relies on others for their leadership as well. It’s a mutual respect that the girls have for one another.”
Solomon has been with Rhodes for the better part of three-plus seasons.
Having leadership spread throughout can be a delicate balance, but Rhodes handles it well.
“As seniors, we all like to lead in our own different ways,” Solomon said. “I think Caiti really stands out as a leader because she’s really vocal and people look up to her.
“She has made me tremendously better. She really pushes me because she’s so good. It’s like I have to keep up with her. She really carries herself well in the field.”
The numbers don’t lie.
Batting in the two hole, Rhodes is hitting .442 with eight doubles and 30 RBIs.
Her RBI total led Medina County from Game 1 until Saturday, when teammate Emma Bobey took over with 31. Bobey had to put forth a six-RBI day against Valley Forge in order to overtake Rhodes.
Rhodes’ on-base percentage is .500 and her slugging percentage is .535, making her 1.035 OPS impressive.
While she hasn’t taken one out of the park, she has scored 27 times.
“Caiti is having a fantastic year at the plate,” Toocheck said. “She has stepped up. She’s had a lot more confidence in her at-bats and that has helped her grow as a hitter.
“She also understands the role she has in being an unselfish teammate. She knows she has to do that whether it’s putting a bunt down or scoring runs. She’s welcomed that role.”
With Anna Aquino batting ahead of Rhodes, it’s led to sacrifice bunts.
She has bolstered both ends of the lineup in that she can drive in runs or get on base to help out.
“She plays a huge role,” Solomon said. “She’s a great RBI hitter, but she also gets her bunts down and moves runners. She’s just a really strong hitter. She’s really important to us.”
Contact Brad Bournival at email@example.com.