Rolling with Rohlik

WABASSO – Wabasso senior Callie Rohlik had big shoes to fill. She had just spent her junior season watching Rabbits pitcher Kimberly Frank carry the team on her shoulders. Little did everyone know, just a season later, Rohlik would be the one shouldering the load.

For Rohlik, her senior season was her first season seeing live innings in games. Rohlik was the only pitcher in the area to top 100 strikeouts with on the season. She paired that with 12 wins and a 3.32 ERA. In 116 innings pitched, Rohlik allowed 55 earned runs.

While she had the ability to overpower hitters at the plate, it was location that paved her way to success.

“She’s very composed out there on the mound,” Wabasso coach Tiffany Eichten said. “She never really gets rattled. She is also very good at hitting her spots. She and her catcher (Erin Liebl) formed a great connection.”

Rohlik was no slouch at the plate either. She finished her senior season with a .397 average and had 18 RBI, scored 20 runs and had three doubles. She tallied 27 total hits.

Rohlik helped captain a team with a first-year head coach in Eichten and was one of only three returners from last year’s lineup.

Throughout high school, Rohlik was also able to keep her grades up in the classroom while playing basketball and volleyball in addition to softball. She was voted class valedictorian with a 3.99 Grade Point Average – she missed a perfect 4.0 thanks to an A minus her freshman year.

Like most student-athletes in smaller towns, accomplishing this required a lot of time-management skills.

“I definitely had to prioritize my time,” Rohlik said. “The toughest part was when we had calculus tests the day after a game because that was really difficult to study for and very time-consuming. Just having to get prepared for a test after playing games, especially basketball, was exhausting. It made for late nights with little sleep.”

On practice days, Rohlik would have to find a quiet place in the school to do her homework after practice since the boys and girls sports teams had to share a gym. Her homework would often be turned in with sloppy handwriting from doing it on the bus to and from athletic contests.

Fast-pitch softball isn’t available in Wabasso until they get to seventh grade and when Rohlik saw the large graduating class ahead of her, she knew she was going to have to be prepared to enter the circle when her team needed her.

Between practices, summer vacations and throwing in the backyard with her sister, Andrea a former catcher- she molded herself into the lethal weapon the Rabbits needed.

“Throwing strikes was the toughest thing at first,” Rohlik said. “I started to hit the strike zone, then I tried just changing speeds and seeing if I could still get it in the area. Then I mixed in a couple change-ups. Knowing where to grip it and the release point took a lot of time. I worked on it all of last summer and then on weekends during basketball season, so it took two or three months.”

During her junior season, Rohlik would watch Frank pitch on the mound knowing soon she would get her turn. There were times when Rohlik felt she was ready to go and ready to step into the circle during Frank’s pitching reign, but knew what was best for the team.

“I just wanted to do whatever got us the win,” Rohlik said. “That’s what was most important. At the start of my senior year, I did wish I had more experience because we had a rocky couple of first games, but after that it was fine.”

She had a wealth of knowledge around her, getting her prepared for this past season. Frank passed along some tips and she also learned a great deal from Andrea and her high school coaches. Eichten was a former pitcher herself.

Eichten claims Rohlik made her job pretty easy.

“She’s very coachable,” Eichten said. “She did everything we asked her to do out there on the mound and never questioned it. She really had a drive to want to get better and she became a team leader. That’s something that was really great to see.”

Like any competitive athlete, the losses stick around in the mind with more detail and a lot longer than the wins.

Wabasso’s run came to an end in the section semifinals against Murray County Central.

“I still think about it all the time,” Rohlik said. “I want to go back to that game all the time. We didn’t play as well as we usually do. It wasn’t my best game pitching. I walked a couple people and we had errors in the infield.”

Rohlik is able to explain the season-ending loss with a lot more detail than the career-single game strikeout total, which she guessed was at seven or eight.

Rohlik will attend Minnesota State in the fall, where she will major in exercise science and is thinking about playing club softball.

While the losses may stick longer than the wins, she will have plenty of positive moments to look back on. What she can be most proud of is her senior season, where she finally stepped into the circle, took the team on her shoulders, and – 121 strikeouts later – continued Wabasso’s winning tradition.

SECOND team

Sadie Stelter, Lakeview

Emily Streich, Lakeview

Brandi Merritt, M/C/LH

Shelby Taylor, Wabasso

Ashley Stattelman, Marshall

Callie Graff, Marshall

Kenda Blomgren MCC

Payton Boerboom, M/C/LH

Erin Liebl, Wabasso

Honorable mention

Allison Benz, Wabasso

Cailtin Louwagie, Lakeview

Anissa Peppersack,Lakeview

Evy Dolan, TMB

Kaylie Nielsen, RTR

Nicole Enemark, RTR

Hailey Enstad, YME

Taylor Willhite RRC/WWG

Ricki Kallhoff, M/C/LH

Kylie Lessman, TMB