Analy’s McClelland in national tournament

Analy sophomore Rosie McClelland practices her swing at the batting cages in Petaluma on Thursday, in preparation for a national tournament. Credit: Conner Jay/The Press Democrat

Analy sophomore Rosie McClelland practices her swing at the batting cages in Petaluma on Thursday, in preparation for a national tournament. Credit: Conner Jay/The Press Democrat

By PETER FOURNIER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

She’s it — a prodigy, a nearly unbelievable talent, the next big thing, they say — but you’d never be able to tell that of Analy High’s Rosie McClelland at first glance.

McClelland has a humble personality, but her athleticism has taken her to the national stage. A sophomore shortstop for the Tigers, McClelland, along with 47 other high school softball athletes, earned a spot in the Scout Sports All-American Games in Nashville, Tenn., a four-team tournament that runs Friday through next Sunday.

McClelland, 16, earned the nod after an impressive showing during a Scout National Skills Showcase in late June. She belted five home runs in the batting portion of the event, making her one of only two players to clear the fence in the competition; the other player hit just one home run.

McClelland found out about her national invitation via email on July 3. She thought her OK performance in the game that followed the showcase event may have left her a bit short of making the cut.

“I was really excited because I actually didn’t think I was good enough to make it,” she said. “I thought I did all right for that game.”

Her Sonoma County League and club team statistics, however, speak for themselves. In her freshman season for Analy, she earned SCL first-team honors with five home runs, 31 RBIs and a .540 average. She also earned the Tigers’ offensive player of the season award. Playing this summer for the NorCal Renegades travel team, she batted .561 with seven home runs and 41 RBIs in 35 games.

McClelland’s coach with both Analy and the Renegades, Nick Houtz, says when she’s at bat, things get edgy for him in the third base coaching box.

“When I’m coaching third base and she comes to bat, I’m a little nervous, because she hits the ball every which way,” He said. “I don’t have a mitt. She’s scary when she hits the ball.”

Houtz had McClelland playing for the Renegades, an 18U AAU team, when she was in eighth grade. And in her first season at the high school level, he said, she was among the SCL leaders in hitting, runs scored and RBIs.

“I’ve been doing this a long time,” Houtz said. “This has been my 18th year. She’s one of the best natural hitters I’ve ever seen.

“This kid, if she stays on the straight and narrow, and keeps her grades up, she’s going to be going to a big school. … She’s just an animal with the bat.”

The natural power McClelland possesses was evident when she first stepped into the batter’s box with her hitting coach, Sam Banister, in fifth grade. According to Banister, the first pitch she ever tossed to McClelland — an underhand throw from about 25 feet away — was blasted right back up the middle and into Banister’s shin.

“I never had a bruise so big,” said Banister, who was a first-team All-Empire performer at Petaluma High before playing at the University of Arizona. “It looked like I had a softball on my shin.”

When she first started training McClelland, Banister asked her a simple question.

“Do you want to be good or do you want to be great?” Banister said she asked McClelland. “And she replied, ‘I want to be the best.’”
“Her mental toughness is something I’ve never seen before with someone her age.”

McClelland is ready for the challenge of facing some of the nation’s top athletes.

“If they’re the best, I would love to face the best to challenge myself, so then I can be prepared for the future in softball,” she said.

Comments are closed.