Athlete of the Week: Linda Rush, Canon-McMillan
Name: Linda Rush
Rush’s week: What did Rush do? Oh, not much. Just won a PIAA Class AAAA state title with a two-run homer in the top of the 12th inning to down Neshaminy, 4-3, at Penn State University’s Nittany Lion Softball Park last Friday.
The homer was Rush’s first extra-base hit of the postseason and doubled her RBI total from the seven previous playoff games.
“I wasn’t hitting at all during that time,” Rush said. “I needed a hit to get it over with. I was overdue.”
Special phone call: Rush was congratulated by hundreds following her shot to left center, but one person’s well-wishes meant more than all the others.
Rush’s grandfather, Paul Sutherland, was listening on his radio in Tampa and called his granddaughter to offer his congratulations.
“He can never come to my games, so that made me happy,” Rush said.
Welcome, kid: Rush was thrust into a starting role this past winter when last year’s shortstop, Veronica Rothka, tore her anterior cruciate ligament playing indoor soccer.
With Rothka out for the year, Rush became the starter – and thrived. She hit .467 (42 for 90) with 21 RBI, a team-high 36 runs, three home runs and six doubles.
She struck out just twice all season in those 90 at-bats, underscoring the Big Macs’ ability to put the ball into play; in 734 at-bats, Canon-Mac batters whiffed just 72 times, slightly less than 10 percent of the time.
Rush’s emergence gave Canon-McMillan (25-1) an incredible three-through-six of Rush, right fielder Abby McCartney, third baseman Olivia Lorusso and catcher Giorgiana Zeremenko, all of whom will return next year.
“At first I thought they were intimidating because they were so good,” Rush said of Canon-Mac’s Big Three. “But then once I got to know them, they were so nice and carefree.
“They welcomed me quick. They are all my good friends now. They just accepted me.”
Slump no more: In the postseason, Rush was hitting. 318 (7 of 22) prior to the state final, all singles, with one RBI and five runs. The average was fine, but her slugging percentage had nearly been sliced in half.
“I took extra batting practice because my swing was messed up,” Rush said. “I was trying to hit it over every time. I needed to swing loose and stay loose.”
Rush took batting practice with a family friend, Greg Piechnick, prior to the state final.
“It helped,” Rush said.
– Compiled by Jason Mackey