The Pilgrim softball team had its best season in more than a decade and made the trip to Rhode Island high school softball’s biggest stage at Rhode Island College.
No one enjoyed the trip more than Katelyn Reph.
The senior shortstop made her varsity debut in 2010, when the Pats went 3-15. This year’s team went 13-3.
“It was great to be a part of turning it around,” Reph said. “My freshman year was tough. We got more kids, more girls were interested. And we worked hard.”
Plenty of players drove the turnaround, but Reph’s steady hand at shortstop and her ability to be a spark at the top of the lineup gave the Pats a constant presence that they could build around.
“She’s been there right from the beginning,” said Pilgrim coach Bill Aquilante. “She was there for the losing season and she was there for the slow, steady progress up to the season we had this year.”
When Reph came out for the team her freshman year, Aquilante saw the potential right away.
“She stood out,” he said.
When she grabbed a starting job at second base as a freshman, she ran with it.
“She started hitting right away,” Aquilante said. “We knew what we had pretty quickly.”
Reph’s freshman success came so quickly that it actually changed Aquilante’s attitude toward playing freshmen.
“I realized freshmen can be ready,” he said. “She proved that.”
And she continued to prove herself every step of the way. After hitting .357 as a freshman and .354 as a sophomore, she really emerged as a junior, hitting .452 with a .531 on-base percentage.
As the Pats had their big season this year, Reph batted .475 and crossed the 100-hit threshold.
“Getting to 100 hits was awesome,” Reph said. “I look back and the season was definitely a success, even though we didn’t get as far as we hoped. All the girls worked hard and I thought we really excelled as a team.”
Reph led the way in that department.
“She always expected us to win,” Aquilante said “The work she puts in when no one’s looking is what makes her better. She sets such a good example. She came back a better player every year, and that’s something I’d like our younger players to learn from.”
That’s the legacy Reph will leave behind as she moves on – the Pats are certainly in a better position than when she found them.
Reph will attend Sacred Heart University in the fall and play club softball.