Villanova softball star, Paige Rauch, sat down with Nick Montane last week to discuss key moments from the 2019-20 season.
Paige Rauch, from Windsor, N.Y., is a senior on Villanova’s softball team. She is double majoring in Political Science and Communication. Rauch spent her freshman year at Fordham University. There, she helped lead the Rams to a conference title.
In 2019, Rauch racked up multiple accolades, including Big East Player of the Year, Big East Honor Roll, Big East all-Academic team, All-Big East first team and many more. She repeated many of these achievements in her junior year during the shortened season. She was ranked number 24 in the country by Softball America, and she was on the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year watch list.
In preparation for the upcoming season, Nick Montane conducted an interview with Rauch on Nova Nation All-Access.
The pair looked back on one of the most incredible wins for the Villanova softball team. In the spring of 2020, the wildcats took on the 2018 national champions, Florida State. The Wildcats ended their series in Arkansas with a massive win against the Seminoles. Rauch described this game as a team building experience, as they pulled together to pull off this win.
What does it take to pull off these big wins?
According to Rauch, it is vital to have incredible mental strength. Rauch has plenty of experience pitching against some of the best players in the country. In this high-pressure game, Rauch was face to face with Sydney Sherrill, who was part of the 2019 First All-American team and has an amazing record at Florida State.
In these high-pressure plays, Rauch says that she focuses on herself and her mindset rather than on the player standing across from her. As a pitcher, she reminds herself that her role is to “pitch strikes, get ahead of the better, know the defense is behind you.”
Mental fitness can often make or break a player or a team. At Villanova, Rauch has dedicated herself to improving her mental fitness, and part of this is knowing how to deal with difficult situations.
Rauch helped the Wildcats bounce back after a rough second inning in the game against Florida State. She attributes this rebound to being able to control her thoughts.
Although the Wildcats walked out with the win against Florida State, it was not always easy for the team.
There are different strategies which Rauch uses to help her team through these difficult times. As a pitcher, Rauch is at the center of everyone’s attention for some parts of the match. Part of her audience is her teammates, who are important to Paige’s success. They serve as encouragement, and Rauch knows that they always support her. She also draws strength from the talent that surrounds herself. The softball team is a better hitting team, and this takes some pressure off of Rauch and allows her the space to correct her play, remain confident and regain her focus.
A big part of being a successful player is being able to read the umpire and decipher what type of calls they will make. Rauch spends a few moments figuring out how the umpire will call, and this helps her play the best game she can.
Rauch is a versatile player and also plays first base. She begins her plays by reading the game, reading the pitcher and making sure to make contact with the ball. She does not only focus on hitting home runs. Rauch has a great record at Villanova, and she is one of two players to get 30 home runs. Montane praised Rauch for being a “true, good hitter.”
Rauch is an integral part of Villanova’s talented team. Her role on the team is not only to play softball, but also to support her teammates. She constantly encourages her teammates and instills confidence in them.
During the game against Florida State, Sydney Hayes had one of the best hits of her career: a three-run homer. Rauch was “so amped for her” and encouraged her to stay focused and keep up the amazing work.
Rauch is an amazing athlete, person and team member, and it will be interesting to see what she does in her final year at Villanova. The softball team at Villanova is highly accomplished and Rauch has been a big part of that success.