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Editor’s note: Each week, The Wake Weekly will honor a local high school senior athlete who put in years of work in a sport, but who won’t finish their final season after COVID-19 ended spring athletics.
WAKE FOREST — This week’s student-athlete of the week is Heritage softball player Raygan Rensing.
The right-handed pitcher was born in Raleigh. Her family moved to Wake Forest when she was 5 years old. Around that time, she tried to find her place in the world of youth athletics. She said softball was her favorite choice of the sports she played growing up.
“I played soccer and other sports, but nothing seemed to stick with me,” Rensing said. “My dad wanted me to play softball when I was 7 years old. It wasn’t fun at first, but I fell in love with it over time. I played infield and then once girls started pitching when I was 10 years old, I started pitching and went to lessons.”
Rensing has been developing her pitching style for almost 10 years. Her former coach, Mark Downing, said that Rensing focuses more on placement than pitching speed. That allows her to be more accurate with her throws.
Her style seems to work, as she has 290 total strikeouts and 39 wins on the mound over her high school career. Rensing has been pitching on Heritage’s varsity team since she was a freshman.
“My focus has always been able to move the ball and make it spin to deceive batters,” Rensing said. “I haven’t focused on power. That has developed over time. I want to place the ball wherever I want to. It’s a good way to deceive batters.”
Rensing is also a terrific batter at the plate. Over the past four seasons, she has racked up 76 hits, 63 RBIs and 51 runs, plus two home runs.
Most of Rensing’s success comes from building off the foundation her older teammates built when she was a freshman. Since Rensing’s freshman year in the spring of 2017, the Huskies have posted a staggering 62 wins and won the conference championship every single year.
“Playing for Heritage is awesome,” Rensing said. “I had a lot of teammates to look up to as role models. That was a huge part of my success. I wanted to play well for them. It was never about myself. I want to be a good role model to the younger players. We’re all one team. It’s the team above yourself.”
Rensing was hoping to be that type of senior role model this year, but after four games, the N.C. High School Athletic Association postponed the spring sports season due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Later on, it canceled the 2020 sports season all together.
Rensing was off to a great start to her senior year as well. In four games, she recorded a batting average of .462 with six hits, five RBIs and four runs, including a home run.
She said she remembered exactly what happened when she heard the news that her final season at Heritage came to an abrupt end.
“We were going from the locker room to practice that day,” Rensing said. “One of my teammates had the Twitter notification on their phone and said that they’re postponing the season. We were freaking out and wondering what was going on. Coach Jessica Furlough called us to meet at the bleachers. She told us that the season is postponed and that we need to stick together during this time. We actually went to Cold Stone Creamery to get ice cream afterward to help us feel better and get over the shocking news.”
Heritage was gearing up for another successful season with three wins and only one loss on its record. However, Rensing and her teammates came to the realization that everything was done for their safety. They are still making the most out of this unfortunate opportunity.
“Over the past couple of months, I learned that the team is more resilient than we ever thought,” Rensing said. “We’ve all been meeting on Google Hangouts every week. Everyone is still practicing for their summer travel teams. It helps put things in perspective where this isn’t the worst thing that has ever happened to someone. This is better for everyone’s health.”
After she graduates, Rensing will play softball for Lees-McRae College. She wants to study exercise science and one day become an athletic trainer or physical therapist.
Even though she won’t step on the mound for Heritage ever again, Rensing still has a positive message to her younger teammates who are looking forward to continuing the softball program’s winning tradition next year.
“I hope that the younger teammates learn to play without fear of what can happen,” Rensing said. “You don’t know what can happen in the future. Play every game like your last, because it could be.”