There are often unsung heroes on a team – players who don't get the glory of scoring game-winners or who move to a different position for the betterment of the team.
Those players are heroes because they excel in the role assigned to them and the team is better for it.
At Crestwood, now in the PIAA Class 2A semifinals, a player like senior co-captain Rachael Ritz is an unsung hero.
She really is a coaches' player, Crestwood coach Elvetta Gemski said. She's an exceptional athlete that is always, ‘Anything you want, coach.' That is so appreciated by the coaching staff.
Ritz, an honor roll student, is an athletic prodigy. She has played for the Comets basketball team. She's an all-star softball player – in the past as an infielder, but last season as a center fielder because her coach asked her to for the betterment of the team.
I try to keep my mind open to all possibilities, Ritz said. I go out and always try to do what the coaches want, and try my hardest (to succeed).
Softball continues into the summer for Ritz, who won a state Little League championship with a Mountain Top Senior League squad a few months ago. Then, some time in August, she picks up the hooked, flat-sided stick and joins the Comets field hockey unit.
From the season on, Gemski said of Ritz's work with a field hockey stick – a year-round endeavor for some. She devotes the season to us before moving on to her next sport. She really is a utilitarian. She plays back, in the midfield, even a stint in goal. She is ready for us anywhere we need her.
If her abilities in those three sports weren't enough, just bring her to another venue of play.
I used to play soccer, Ritz said. I wish I never gave it up, but I had to with softball. Other than that, if my friends want to go to the courts and play tennis, I'm in.
I play field hockey just for the school. And it's pretty much softball in the summer. But I don't have a favorite. It depends on the season. I just fall in love with the sport I'm playing.
With the field hockey team, she is a stalwart on defense for Gemski. This season, that defense has yielded just 14 goals because of Ritz, along with fellow backs Chandler Ackers and Megan McCole, and goalie Dallas Kendra.
The backs are in their second season working together and have found they have a good chemistry with their first-year starter in goal. Then again, you would figure Ritz to work well with Kendra – Ritz is also a backup goalie for the field hockey team.
Ritz and Ackers are the only two senior starters on a team which has a large contingent of freshmen and sophomores contributing.
I'm having a lot of fun right now, Ritz said. Actually, it has been different this year, but not in a bad way. The younger players … they're really good now. They're going to be incredibly good in the future.
Ritz is still working on her future plans after her senior year at Crestwood. For now, she hopes her plans include more field hockey throughout this week.
PIAA Class 2A semifinals
Crestwood vs. Greenwood
at Crispin Field, Berwick