FRANKLIN FURNACE — Helping a team improve while improving greatly as an individual talent is certainly an excellent way to earn an opportunity at the next level.
For Franklin Furnace’s Rachel Cline, that’s exactly what she did throughout her high school career at Green.
Cline, a consistent force inside the Green softball lineup and an all-SOC (Southern Ohio Conference) honoree, continues the local roll for the Shawnee State softball program — as the former Green infielder will join the SSU roster for the 2021 season on forward.
“It means the absolute world to me,” Cline said. “Not a lot of people from my high school have the opportunity to go on to college to play a sport, and I’m so thankful that I do. I’m also very thankful that I get to stay home with my family yet still get the student-athlete experience. I’m praying that we’ll get a season!”
With Green, Cline proved to be one of the most improved players in the area, regardless of sport, with her play on the softball diamond.
As a sophomore in 2018, Cline helped Green improve significantly to a 9-14 record by batting .328 with a solid .856 OPS.
In addition to finishing fifth on the team in batting average, Cline finished fourth on the Green squad in hits and RBI and fifth on the unit in runs scored and walks.
She was named as a 2018 all-Southeast District Division IV Honorable Mention honoree as a result.
Those numbers, however, paled in comparison to Cline’s production the following year.
Fueled by a strong offseason from a personal standpoint, Cline made outstanding strides as a junior, batting a strong .470 with a .533 on-base percentage and a .758 slugging percentage — and combining for a 1.291 OPS.
In addition to being second on the team in batting average, slugging percentage and OPS, Cline led the team with 34 RBI, blasted two home runs to tie for the team lead, notched 13 more doubles to place second on the team in that category, and scored 21 runs.
However, as strong as her hitting skills proved to be, her fielding skills were even better.
In 70 defensive chances during her junior season, Cline played a spotless campaign by not committing a single error.
While doing so, she also collected six defensive assists to round out a strong year that saw Green improve even further to a 13-11 showing and a 9-5 conference mark — good for third in the eight-team Southern Ohio Conference Division I ranks.
Cline, as a result of her improvement, was named as a first-team all-SOC and a second-team all-Southeast District honoree as a junior.
“I loved playing at Green,” Cline said. “I had the best coaches in the world. I really wish I had that last season to properly tell them and my teammates goodbye. It was really cool, to say the least, to be a part of a team where we got consistently better every year. I owe it to all of my coaches, and I’m looking forward to watching them this upcoming season.”
Along with her skills on the softball diamond, Cline helped Green improve greatly on the volleyball court as well.
After winning just five games total in her first three seasons of competition, Green won six games in Cline’s senior season — thanks to the contributions of their senior leader.
“I loved my volleyball team so much,” Cline said. “We were rebuilding when I was a part of it. During my freshman and sophomore seasons, we only won five games combined. During my junior and senior year, we all started to take the sport more seriously, and that helped turn the program around. That team was a family, and I still talk to a lot of the girls. With Green being so small, you make families with the teams that you are a part of. That’s a really special aspect of competing at a school with smaller enrollment, especially at Green.”
Cline also served as a Green cheerleader and, as Miss Green, finished as second runner-up in the 2019 Miss River Days Pageant, which features a female representative from each of the 12 high schools in Scioto County.
With Shawnee State, the proximity of SSU to the Green campus — a 25-minute drive — and the strength of the nursing program, along with the tradition of the softball program, made SSU an easy sell for Cline.
She’s already impressed with her coaches’ attentiveness to details and their overall positivity.
“I love that it was close to home,” Cline said. “They have a wonderful nursing program, and I’ve always followed the softball program. In both cases, I wanted to be a part of what Shawnee State is doing. With COVID, I didn’t have the opportunity to personally meet the coaches but a handful of times. However, they’ve been extremely positive and encouraging. It makes me excited and hopeful for the upcoming season.”
Over the next four years, Cline’s goals are simple through words.
However, the Green product knows that she’ll have to continue to work in order to improve and meet her own objectives.
“Academically, I hope to obtain my BSN,” Cline said. “Athletically, I just want to continue playing the sport that I fell in love with.”
For more information on SSU Bears Athletics, visit www.ssubears.com or visit the Twitter and Facebook pages at https://twitter.com/SSUBears and https://www.facebook.com/SSUBears. For more information on how to join the SSU Bear Club or for sponsorship of specific SSU players or events, visit https://givetossu.com/bear-club and https://givetossu.com/sponsorthebears.