Name: Linda Rush
Rush’s week: The Big Macs’ starting shortstop went 4-for-4 with two home runs and six RBI in Canon-McMillan’s season-opening, 18-3, victory over Upper St. Clair. One day later, she added another home run with three RBI in the Big Macs’ 18-3 win over Brashear.
Freshman sensation: Rush turned heads last year in her first season of varsity softball. Tasked with replacing Veronica Rothka, a three-year starter at shortstop, Rush showed incredible discipline at the plate, striking out just twice in more than 90 plate appearances.
It was one at-bat in particular that helped give Canon-McMillan the 2013 PIAA Class AAAA title. Rush went to the plate in the top of the 12th inning in the finals against Neshaminy and hit a two-run home run to give the Big Macs a 4-2 lead. It was only her third home run of the season. Neshaminy added a run in the bottom half of the inning, but senior pitcher Alayna Astuto sealed the win with a strikeout to end the longest game in Class AAAA championship history.
Rush is ready to improve on her freshman season.
“I’ve never been a power hitter,” Rush said. “I only hit three home runs last year, and it’s something I wanted to improve on. It’s great that I’ve been doing so well so soon.”
With two more home runs this week, Rush has already surpassed her total from last season and is the latest Canon-McMillan player to have an immediate impact. The seemingly never-ending talent pool the Big Macs have is aided by head coach Michele Moeller coaching fall leagues that feature girls as young as 11 years old.
In Rush, Moeller found another contributor for one of the most decorated softball programs in the WPIAL and the head coach believes Rush still has untapped potential.
“It’s unlimited for her,” Moeller said. “She continues to want to get better and excel. With younger players, as long as you continue to tune the things you need to and get better at things you aren’t great at, the sky is the limit. She has all the tools to keep going further.”
Two-way player: Rush’s offensive ability is complemented by precise play at shortstop. Despite the success she saw as a freshman, Rush did not become complacent. Rush spent the summer and fall working on her defensive skills, learning to be aggressive in the field with an emphasis on technique. Even base running is an aspect of her game that she is trying to perfect.
“Base running can be a really bad one for me,” Rush said. “I’ve also tried charging ground balls and have worked on bending my knees. I forget to do that sometimes.”
The adjustments have caught the attention of Moeller, who sees the same attention to detail in her shortstop as Linda’s older sister, Kirsten, who was a senior on last year’s team. Moeller has observed an understated confidence develop in Rush. Reserved as a freshman, Rush has been more talkative and comfortable this year.
“She attacks the ball, she sees it well, and she already has so much playing experience,” Moeller said. “She has grown up around fastpitch and she is a great all-around athlete.”
Compiled by Lance Lysowski.