By Mark Ambrogi
Keagan Rothrock is rated by MaxPreps as the No. 1 high school player in her class of 2023.
Known primarily for her strengths as a pitcher, Roncalli High School softball coach David Lauck said the junior has worked hard to become a better hitter all around while maintaining her pitching prowess.
Entering the sectional play May 23, Rothrock was hitting .530 with 12 home runs and 46 runs batted in for the unbeaten Royals.
“She struck out only one time in almost 90 at-bats,” Lauck said. “She is one of our toughest outs at the plate. She is extremely focused and uses the whole field.”
The power increase is noticeable as Rothrock hit .442 with three homers for the Royals (31-2) in 2021.
“She has definitely added more power in that swing, and some of those home runs have been monster shots,” Lauck said. “She is physically better in shape and mentally at the plate, she is more comfortable.”
Rothrock said she concentrated on working with her hitting instructor, Grant Bellak, Hanover College head baseball coach.
“We worked on breaking down my swing and finding the spots in my swing where it could be better and could be smoother,” she said. “I worked on that a lot in the winter inside.”
Rothrock had a 22-0 record with a 0.81 earned run average. She had 305 strikeouts in 130 1/3 innings. Last year she had 364 strikeouts in 160 1/3 innings with a 24-2 record and a 0.13 ERA.
“I feel I’ve improved all around (as a pitcher),” she said. “My pitching coach and I have focused on improving the little stuff, and I think it’s really improved all around.”
Lauck said some games Rothrock has been frustrated by consistency of location of her pitches.
“But her pitches have kept us in every game,” Lauck said. “She is averaging 2.2 strikeouts per inning. That makes it a lot easier on our defense when they might have the ball in play four or five times in a game. What I’m most impressed with is the target that has been on her back all year long. Everyone is practicing for weeks just to get ready for Keagan. That wasn’t the case last year where she might have caught teams by surprise how she jumped on the scene and dominated.”
Rothrock said the team is confident about defending its Class 4A state title.
“Obviously, there are still things we need to work on as a team,” she said. “There are things we can be better at or cleaner with. We are working together to play as a team. We know we have a big, big target on our back. We’re really focusing on playing loose, playing together, playing for each other rather than going out there and thinking ahead.”
We’re playing in the moment. We’re going to play the game like we know how and, hopefully, kick some butt.”
Rothrock was named the 2021 Extra Inning Softball National High School Player of the Year.
Rothrock isn’t the type of person to seek attention, but she said she deals with it well.
“I love talking with people,” she said.
Lauck said Rothrock is a great teammate.
“She is adored by her teammates and our Roncalli softball families,” he said. “That’s just a testament to her unselfishness. She puts a great value in her high school experience.”
Rothrock plays with Lady Dukes Lamar 18s, a national traveling tam which is coached by James Lamar, based in Durham, N.C. Lamar’s wife is Duke University head softball coach Marissa Young.
“We have girls from all over the country,” Rothrock said. “We practice in North Carolina and sometimes Georgia.”
Rothrock will join the team with the Royals’ season ends, which she hopes is June 11, the state championship day.
Rothrock committed to University of Florida as a seventh grader.
“Florida has always been my dream school, so there hasn’t been any wavering,” she said. “I’m excited to go down there. I love the campus. I love the coaches. They have great academics. For now, I’m just going to stay in the moment and live my senior year to the fullest.”
THE ROTHROCK FILE
NAME: Keegan Rothrock
SCHOOL: Roncalli High School
COLLEGE PLANS: Attend University of Florida to play softball and major in pre-med classes. Wants to become a pediatrician.
HOBBIES: Photography, painting, on yearbook staff at Roncalli.
FAVORITE SUBJECTS: Science and English
FAVORITE ATHLETE: Former University of Florida pitcher Kelly Barnhill
FAVORITE MOVIE: The Hunger Games trilogy
FAVORITE VACATION SPOTS: Florida and California
PARENTS’ NAMES: Greg and Laura Rothrock