On Monday, junior Paige Rauch was named a 2020 Shortened Season All-American, earning a spot on the Third Team as the Utility-Pitcher.
Softball America’s list of All-Americans included three teams of 13 players. Rauch was the only non-Power 5 conference player to earn the honor.
At the end of March, Rauch was also named one of Softball America’s Top 25 College Players, finishing in the 24th spot. She was the only player from a non-Power 5 school to be ranked in the top 25, and one of two in the top 100 player rankings.
Rauch handled her offensive and defensive duties spectacularly, finishing the shortened season with the team’s highest batting average at a stout .405 and team-low in ERA at 2.25.
“[Paige’s] numbers kind of speak for themselves,” Head Coach Bridget Orchard said. “But I think what people don’t see is the time that she puts in, and the effort she puts in.”
Rauch started off the season 7-0, including her first career no-hitter against FAU on Feb. 15. She ended the season with a 12-4 record with nine complete games and 97 strikeouts in 90.1 innings pitched. She ranked fourth in the NCAA in wins, and led all Big East pitchers in strikeouts.
Offensively, Rauch finished the season tied for first in the NCAA in home runs. She hit 12 home runs in 27 games, recording a team-high .405 batting average with 28 RBI.
“It’s just awesome,” Orchard said. “For [Paige], the bigger the game, the better she plays, which was great for us.”
Early in the season, the ‘Cats played three different top 25 teams, No. 23 Baylor, No. 22 Arkansas and No. 9 Florida State. The team went 2-2 against its opponents, which allowed them to receive votes in the national polls. Over the course of the weekend, Rauch hit .467 with three home runs against three different Arkansas pitchers.
“For her to do that against really good competition says a lot as well,” Orchard said. “I think playing Top 25 teams and putting up those types of numbers, people think, ‘oh she hit that many home runs because you’re not playing anybody, your schedule isn’t as strong.’ So, when she can do that against the top teams, it shows that she can do that against Florida State and Arkansas.”
Rauch was a catalyst in the lineup as the number two hitter, with freshman Chloe Smith and sophomore Megan Kern hitting .365 and .345, respectively, behind her. The work Rauch put in on and off the field translated to success, as she led her team to a 14-13 record before Big East play began.
“She’s always shooting every year for her personal goal of being an All-American,” Orchard said.
At the end of the 2020 shortened season, Rauch achieved her goal.