Varsho right at home with Rebellion

June 4, 2014
Outfielder Andie Varsho, daughter of former Pittsburgh Pirate Gary Varsho, is expected to be in the starting lineup when the Pennsylvania Rebellion make their home debut tonight at Consol Energy Park. - Courtesy Purdue University

Andie Varsho is back wearing a black and gold uniform.

Those are the colors she wore for four years playing softball at Purdue University, and those were the colors her father, Gary, was wearing when her mom, Kay, went into labor with her.

On Oct. 19, 1991.

During the National League Championship Series.

At Three Rivers Stadium.

Andie is the daughter of former Pittsburgh Pirates Gary Varsho, and like her father, she is an outfielder.

Andie Varsho is expected to be in the starting lineup when the Pennsylvania Rebellion play their first home game in the organization’s National Pro Fastpitch opener tonight at Consol Energy Park against the USSSA Pride to start a four-game series.

First pitch is 7 p.m. Sarah Pauly is expected to be the starting pitcher for the Rebellion.

“I love competition,” Andie Varsho said. “I’ve been around baseball since Day 1, and I thrive on it.”

The 22-year-old Varsho is off to slow start with a .182 batting average in three games. Like most of her teammates, she’s trying to adjust to the league and shaking the rust off from inactivity. She batted leadoff in the opener last week and faced one of the most prolific pitchers in fastpitch history in Cat Osterman.

“I was just trying to make contact,” Varsho said. “That was the first time I saw a pitch (in a game) in three weeks. It was a good experience.”

Varsho signed with the Rebellion as a free agent after graduating from Purdue in May. She spent her high school career at Marshfield (Wisc.) High School, and grew up in an area marked by dairy farms and Green Bay Packers fans.

She played baseball until the eighth grade, and was known for her accuracy and strong arm.

“I had short hair, and I would tuck it up under my hat,” she said. “After games, I would take my hat off and they could see I was a girl. They would say, ‘You got struck out by a girl.’”

She credits her dad, who is a scout for the Los Angeles Angels, for guiding her through her career.

“He’s been an amazing influence,” she said. “He’s my hitting coach, my parent and my best friend. He knows when I need a kick in the pants or a pat on the back. He’s done so much in life with baseball, and I have an opportunity with softball.”

She switched to softball in high school and also played basketball and tennis.

“I think (athletes) should play more than one sport,” she said. “I’d think you would get burned out by the time you got to college if you played only one sport.”

Varsho had many highlights at Purdue and left as the program’s career hits leader with 275 and batting average leader at .398. She ranks among the top five in stolen bases (105), doubles (46), runs (45), on-base percentage (.464), triples (11), walks (82) and slugging percentage (.549). She made the All-Big Ten teams three times.

Interestingly, she hadn’t really thought about the NPF.

“My coach asked if I was interested in playing, and I said, ‘What is that?’” she said. “I thought I would be going overseas to play. My way of playing baseball is softball. I was happy to get the opportunity.”

Besides being a professional softball player, Varsho sings, plays the piano and has this interesting ability, filed under “Stupid Human Tricks,” of playing “Mary Had A Little Lamb” by clapping her hands while blowing air through them. It’s available for viewing on YouTube.

“I’m a pretty independent person,” she said. “I want to get the most out life. And you can’t do that staying (at home).”

Joe Tuscano has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1980. He has covered all sports for the newspaper, including the Steelers, Pirates, Pitt football, local college football and wrestling. He has worked for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Jeannette News-Dispatch and North Hills Record. He graduated from Duquesne University in 1980.

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