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Former Comet relishing starting role at Virginia Tech

Playing collegiate softball had always been a dream of former Halifax County High School catcher Betty Rose, and her hard work and a never-say-die attitude has paid off at Virginia Tech.

Rose, a junior catcher for the Hokies, had a breakout season last year at Virginia Tech.

She was named ACC Player of the Week for her performance at the Diamond Devil Invitational at Tempe, Arizona early in the year.

Rose went 9-14 (.643) during the tournament, with four homeruns and nine RBI in five games.

She finished the year with a team-leading 12 home runs, was first in slugging percentage (.606) and second in hits (50) and fielding percentage (.983).

“It was always a dream of mine, but I knew I could do it,” said Rose, who could be found during the holiday break honing her swing at the indoor batting cage at the Halifax County High School gym.

“I always wanted to do it, because I loved the sport.”

Longwood University initially offered Rose a scholarship to play softball, but Rose always wanted to go to Virginia Tech, and she arrived on campus as a walk-on her freshman year.

Rose admits it wasn’t easy making the transition from high school to NCAA Division I softball, and it was a struggle at first.

As her coach, Scot Thomas, would explain it she was a little rough around the edges, she recalled.

“I just needed to be refined and tweaked, and then I’d have it,” she remembers Thomas telling her.

“They always seemed to have a lot of faith and confidence in me and knew I had potential…I just had to prove it.”

She admitted her freshman year at Tech was emotionally draining.

“It was very hard being somewhere alone,” said Rose.

“Here, everybody knows you, and we were always the top dogs, so it was very hard going to college and that level of competition.”

Rose spent time at third base and left field her freshman year, but her strongest position, like high school, was behind the plate.

She realized the summer following her freshman year what she needed to do in order to reach her potential, and in so many words, “the light bulb came on” for her.

“My freshman year was all so new to me, the competition and the level of intensity, it was all new,” recalled Rose.

“I needed some time to adjust, and I was so discouraged I wasn’t where I wanted to be.  I didn’t want to be a bullpen catcher by any means.

“It was the worst feeling in the world to have people come to your games and you not play, so I just got so tired of it.”

Rose re-dedicated herself to the game she loved, and she discovered the focus she needed.

“I just remember I was at the middle school hitting off a traffic cone, and right then I told myself I would never fail,” Rose said.

“Since then I’ve had such a focus, and anytime I’m at the plate I just want to focus and hit the ball hard anywhere it’s pitched.”

Rose’s approach to the game is as much mental as physical.

“It takes a lot more than your physical abilities, it’s your mentality and work ethic, especially when you’re not at school,” she said.

“They’re going to work you when you’re at school, but it’s up to you how hard you want to work during your breaks.”

Her sophomore season was a breakout year, where her hard work really began to pay off.

“I guess I had a totally different mentality from my freshman year,” she recalled.

“There was a big change in my persona.  The weight program we’re on has the exact same lifts of any men’s program at Tech except for the football team.

“I’ve just gotten so much stronger it’s unreal.”

She also changed the mechanics of her swing, a move that gave her more power and control at the plate.

“After my first year, I heard my stride was out of control.  I was being impatient and wanting so much to hit the ball,” Rose explained.

“I have a lot more patience now and let the ball come to me, rather than me coming out of my shoes to hit it.

“I’ve shortened up my stride and tried to be more under control, and I have a more compact swing.”

 

With progress comes
responsibility

Rose wants to take a greater leadership role with the Hokies this season, which starts Feb. 10 versus St. Louis in Jacksonville, Florida.

“I’m so blessed I’ve gotten to this point.  It’s definitely taken a lot to get here,” Rose commented, adding her role on the team has changed since her freshman year.

“I’m surprised this has actually happened, but there’s a part of me that says I knew I could do this.

“It’s almost not a surprise but a sigh of relief and a joyful feeling that I’ve actually accomplished something I’ve always wanted to do.

“It’s really not over, yet.”

Rose has set some personal goals for the 2012 season, where the Hokies are scheduled to play College Softball World Series stalwarts such as Alabama and Oklahoma.

“I really just want to go out with a great amount of confidence, and I know I can keep up with these girls, Rose noted.

“Obviously, my goal is to bat over .300, and I have some leadership goals as well.

“I want to be a stronger leader on our team and have a leadership role.”

Rose sees herself as a role model for younger players in the hotbed of softball known as Halifax County.

“I feel like I’ve worked really hard to get to where I am, and it’s so important to tell people it definitely doesn’t come from hopes and wishes but from really trying to be the best at what you’re doing,” said Rose.

“I always have fun at what I’m doing,” she added.

“I’d really considered other options if this wasn’t for me.  I think when you put all the pressure behind you and only worry about yourself it becomes a game.

“It is a game.  You need to have fun and not worry, and relax and focus on your goals.

“Even before big games I calm myself down and tell myself it’s only a game, and just do it.”