In the bottom of the third inning, shortly after Warren softball scored an unearned run in a CIF-Southern Section Division 3 quarterfinal game on Thursday, West Ranch catcher Adrienne Chang called a timeout and approached pitcher Jenna Rorick.
“I said, ‘Hey, we’re good, they only have one run up on us and I know we can score way more than one run,’ and so I think that kind of settled her down a little bit and she pitched great today.”
After that talk, Rorick didn’t give up any runs as the Wildcats went on to win 14-1. Because not only is Chang a great catcher and motivator for her, but because she embraces high-pressure situations.
“Pressure is like, one of my favorite things,” Rorick said. “I love just being out there for my teammates and I’ve been doing it since freshman year. I was the starting pitcher my freshman year on varsity and I just love the game.”
Rorick isn’t just the starting pitcher. She’s the only pitcher.
No pitchers made it on the varsity team at the start of the season and Mady Flatt, a former pitcher who now plays first base, injured her arm in a way that the underhand pitching motion is painful for her.
Rorick didn’t shy from the job though, putting in extra work outside of practice to stay sharp.
“Jenna is everything you want a player to be,” said West Ranch coach Phil Giarrizzo. “She’s a leader, she works hard, she works extra. She’ll stay after practice, she’ll come up with her dad when we’re not out there and still work even more. She never stops.”
Against Warren, Rorick recorded four strikeouts while giving up nine hits and two walks. At the plate, she went 1-for-2 with a two-run single.
She is just as valuable at the plate as she is in the circle. Currently the No. 5 hitter in the lineup, she has a .354 batting average and 16 RBIs on the season, according to MaxPreps.com.
According to Rorick, it took a long time for her to be able to completely master switching from pitching and hitting every inning.
“When I’m on defense I’m solely focusing on defense,” she said. “Pitching, hitting my spots and when I’m on offense, I’m thinking, ‘Okay, what’s the situation, how can I get girls on or runs in’ and I focus on hitting.
“And then if I get out or anything, I don’t really take it with me on defense. If I get out I try and make up for my teammates and try extra hard pitching.”
With 155 innings pitched so far this season, according to MaxPreps.com, Rorick has to take good care of her body. She says she always gets plenty of sleep and eats well. After games, she stretches, takes an Epsom salt bath — no ice — and eats a steak bowl with guac from Chipotle. With chips, of course.
She takes excellent care of herself physically, but also preaches that the mental side of the game is just as important, especially to aspiring pitchers.
“Confidence. That’ the biggest thing,” she said. “If you’re not confident on the mound, then don’t even go out there. It’s a very mentally hard game to pitch and having confidence is key.”