Republic, Mo. (OzarksSportsZone.com) -- Republic softball is starting a freshman at pitcher this season, but when you watch Rachel Rook pitch it is hard to tell that she just turned 14 years old this month.
"As long as she is locked in and going, she is one of the best pitchers in the area," Republic softball coach Lee Dishman said. "I don't care if she is a freshman or not, I will hook her up against anybody. I think her best is better than a lot of people's best."
So far, Rook has pitched up to those expectations as the Tigers are 6-0 and so is their freshman star, who has pitched every inning so far this season.
It hasn’t been totally smooth sailing for Rook though. She has gotten into several jams this season that have required a composure and timely pitching that normally are expected of an upperclassman.
It is all just part of the game for Rook though.
"She thrives on the pressure," Dishman said. "If she gets a runner in scoring position she will lock down and focus a little bit more. She has done it time and time again."
That was the case on Tuesday when Branson had a runner reach third base early in the game and Rook buckled down.
"I knew she couldn’t score,” Rook said. “After I struck out the first girl I knew I could do it two more times.”
That kind of confidence is Rook’s greatest asset on the mound.
"She doesn't get rattled. She doesn't show emotion," Dishman said. "That is what makes her pretty good I think. She is the same face all the way through."
A week ago, Rook stepped into the circle against Walnut Grove, which made it to the Class 1 final eight last season. The freshman no-hit the Tigers in a 14-0 win.
Rook was so locked into her game that she didn’t know what exactly how strong of a game she was pitching.
"I didn't even realize I threw a no hitter or was even close to it until after the game," Rook said. "I don't really think about that stuff during the game."
Rook is another in a long line of great pitchers for Republic, but being the first freshman pitcher on varsity in many years is not going to her head.
"She takes it with great pride," Dishman said. "You are not going to outwork her at all. She is out here all the time working. She wants to be the best. She has got four years of greatness ahead of her if she keeps doing what she is doing."
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