Ruby shines in OHSFSCA HOF


Former Clay High School softball head coach and current Wheelersburg High School softball head coach Teresa Ruby recently was inducted into the Ohio High School Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Submitted photo

WHEELERSBURG — Talk to Teresa Ruby, and she quickly conveys she’s not into eye-popping numbers or statistics.

No matter how many, or how often, certain media members mention those to her.

“I know you love numbers, but you and I go back and forth about this,” she said, with a laugh. “I don’t pay attention to those.”

But, trying to downplay those numbers as she might, they simply never tell a lie —and the truth of the matter is, the 61-year-old Ruby is one of the best in the state’s softball history to do it.

As a result, Ruby —rightfully and rewardedly —recently was inducted into the Ohio High School Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, held in mid-January at the Hilton at Easton in Columbus.

Ruby, the highly successful head coach of formerly Clay and currently Wheelersburg, received induction along with three others — Rick Healey of Williamsburg, Staci Renollet of Fairview, and Cheryl Weaver of Warren Champion.

She has been a head coach for 27 seasons so far — 15 at her alma mater of Clay, two at Portsmouth High in 2012 and 2013, and now the last full decade at Wheelersburg.

Oh, those gaudy numbers you were inquiring about?

Ruby has 492 career coaching victories, 23 sectional championships, 15 district titles, seven regional crowns —and three Division III state championships with Wheelersburg, including the last two.

More on that latter, yet important, detail momentarily.

That’s on top of her Clay career as a player, as the Panthers played in the first four Ohio High School Athletic Association state tournaments in Class A — first finishing as runner-up in 1979, and winning back-to-back state championships in her junior and senior seasons of 1980 and 1981.

Those last two campaigns include another noteworthy number —55 consecutive victories.

Ruby, in a recent indepth interview with The Portsmouth Daily Times following her Hall of Fame induction, downplayed of course her career numbers —and rather propped up the individuals around her coaching career.

“This isn’t something that you do on your own. I’m not a solo tennis player or anything like that. A lot of people have stood with me and behind me and supported me on this journey. You start with your family, then you have your assistant coaches and community and your players and your parents, which actually buy into what you’re trying to do,” she said. “Accepting the award was really a time for me to reflect. Time happens so fast, and you just do and you do and you do, and all of the sudden, it’s like I’ve been around this game for a while. Over 25 years now. I may be the face of the award (Hall of Fame induction), but there’s a lot of people accepting it with me.”

That included, per the 1981 Clay graduate, Clay softball coaches Clay and Carol Vice.

The Vices were inducted into the OHSFSCA HOF in 2009.

“If you play softball in Southeast Ohio, then you need to thank Clay and Carol Vice,” said Ruby. “They had the vision for what it is.”

What Ruby has made it indeed has been a gem — but it actually almost wasn’t the path she sought.

In the 1980s, she went to college at Morehead State University —and intended to leave the immediate area after graduation.

But Ruby received a call from then-Clay coach Steve Hempill, asking initially if she would serve on his Panther softball staff.

“His (Hempill) vision was for me take the program over if I liked it. I helped out one year, and I haven’t looked back since then,” she said. “I’ve always had a passion for the game, so being this close to it was great.”

What was next?

For a decade-and-a-half beginning in 1994, Ruby coached her alma mater — and won 228 games, six Division IV district championships, and the 2007 regional title.

“I really enjoyed coaching at my alma mater. It was pretty special coaching at Clay. It was an honor, because Clay and Carol Vice meant so much to me,” said Ruby. “I just wanted to keep going what they started and hopefully make them proud. I’ll never catch up, but I’ve always tried to walk in their footsteps.”

She then assisted at Shawnee State University under the legendary Ralph Cole, and “was actually ready to retire from coaching and take up officiating”.

But PHS had built a brand-spanking new softball complex, and so Ruby took the head coaching job with the Trojans for two seasons (2012 and 2013).

She then went to Wheelersburg in 2014 — and putting it mildly, “I’ve been very happy at Wheelersburg”.

Wheelersburg High School softball head coach Teresa Ruby receives her Southeast District Division III championship medal following the Pirates’ district championship triumph this past season.

Courtesy of Terry Stevenson of

That’s because the Pirates under Ruby’s leadership, for those unaware or even under a rock, is a state powerhouse.

The Pirates perform in business-like and workwoman-like fashion, expecting to win games and advance to the state tournament each season.

Ruby’s record with Wheelersburg stands at 229-13, part of 492-115 overall.

Of course, there’s always the canceled campaign of 2020 —thanks to the coronavirus threat.

She will, in all likelihood, win her 500th career game next season (2024).

She’s never lost a Southern Ohio Conference contest —131 of those to be exact, part of Wheelersburg’s winning streak in the SOC now at 136.

The Pirates’ last postseason loss was the Division III state semifinal from 2021 —to eventual state champion Fairview, coached by Renollet.

Wheelersburg —with regional championships in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2021, 2022 and 2023 — won the Division III state championship in first 2016, and since then have gone back-to-back (2022 and 2023).

The Pirates, in 2017, were the Division III runner-up —to Weaver’s Warren Champion squad.

Entering the upcoming season, the Pirates — for those into counting —carry an incredible 56-game winning streak, thanks to their historic 32-0 season last spring.

“It’s been pretty amazing, almost full circle. Having played in the state tournament, then winning a state championship as a player, coaching at Clay and going to the state tournament, and then going to the state tournament with Wheelersburg and actually winning three state championships as a coach, it’s been a pretty remarkable experience,” said Ruby. “The kids at Wheelersburg have really bought in to the culture we envisioned and wanted to create, and they continue to take it to the next level every year. And I know our coaching staff will tell you that our players push us just as much as we try to push them to be better. When you have kids like that, which are you not dragging them to the field or dragging them to do stuff in the offseason…I’m amazed sometimes at the dedication they’ve shown. It’s been pretty special.”

The four-Pirate senior class of 2023—of which only first baseman Macee Eaton and centerfielder Kiera Kennard were three-year starters —went a jaw-dropping 85-3.

This past season, their rock-solid defense —behind standout pitchers AndiJo Howard (left-hander) and Kaylynn Carter (right-hander) —didn’t even allow 50 total runs, as opponents only totaled 44.

Only two games, 7-6 against visiting Northwest and 7-5 against neutral-site Bullit East (Ky.), were within two runs —and the Pirates’ 9-6 Southeast District championship triumph over Wellston was their closest competition in sectional, district AND regional competition since 2019.

They pitched 18 shutouts of those 32 wins — and again, no losses.

Indeed, in this back-to-back state championship run, of which Carter then reminded fans with a hand-made sign saying “2 In a Row”, the Pirates were an astounding 59-1.

“She (Ruby) has practically seen me grow up my whole life,” said Eaton, following the Pirates’ state championship game on June 3. “I remember me and her (Howard) being their bat girls, and looking at coach (Ruby) like she’s this god. I was like ‘Oh my gosh. I can’t wait to play for her.’ When you think of Wheelersburg softball, you automatically think of Teresa Ruby. You just want to prove to her that you can be the best you can be. Her ability to make you believe in yourself, her ability to make you smile when things aren’t going your way…she has helped me through so much, honestly. She knows the perfect thing to say at the perfect time.”

And, last season, the Pirates were just that —perfect.

But Ruby said coaching isn’t ALL about winning those state championships.

“I love to win, I love those state championships, and they are great. But really, the journey to get there is always the most special part of it,” she said. “None of those seasons in which we brought those trophies home were easy. There’s injuries, there’s bad days at the field, a lot of emotions, a lot of blood, sweat and tears. Talent doesn’t get you there. There are a lot of teams which are talented. So much more goes into it. That journey, when it all comes together, it’s something special to be a part of. To me, that’s what I enjoy just as much.”

Ruby revealed also she is “a different coach” today than what she was three decades ago.

“I am a different coach now than what I was when I started at Clay. I don’t think I’ve softened up; I am just as competitive as I always was. You just learn to communicate with kids differently. I think I have evolved as a coach, and I would like to think that I am a continual learner. I always study the game as much as I can. The game has evolved a lot, so I don’t want to get left behind,” she said. “To see how far the game has come, and popular the sport is now, it’s amazing what these girls have for next-level softball.”

The likable and well-respected Ruby was also asked if it has felt like almost 30 years of coaching.

“Physically, yes. That’s another story. But mentally and emotionally, it doesn’t. It seems like just yesterday I was starting at Clay and learning the ropes. I’m still excited about going to the ballfield every day, excited about hanging out with our kids and working hard and setting our goals and doing everything,” she said. “It keeps me energized and keeps me young.”

No doubt, Ruby still has the same burning passion for coaching softball, and still wins softball game after softball game after softball game —with pretty much the same coaching staff intact.

At Wheelersburg, Susan Reutzel has assisted her from the beginning — with Dusty Salyers serving on staff for several seasons.

“I want to surround myself with the best people possible, and empower them and just let them do what they do well,” said Ruby. “We challenge one another, we have open conversations, we have very softball knowledgeable people on our staff. We’ve got a great crew.”

As for how much longer Ruby sees herself coaching, she maintains “it’s year to year”.

“I always want to make sure I’m bringing everything I have to the field, and that I’m not cheating the kids in any way,” she said. “I am excited to come to the softball field, I am excited to be around the kids, and I am energized about being there. As long as I can say ‘yes’ to all those, then I’m going to coach. When it gets to be that I can’t answer those questions with a ‘yes’, then I need to step away and let somebody else take a hold of it.”

For now, though, more noteworthy numbers await —whether the now state Hall of Famer Ruby pays attention or not.

“I’m just very humbled and touched by this award,” she said. “But a lot of people go into making this possible.”

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on X @paulboggssports © 2024 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

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