After a difficult start to her collegiate softball career, Plattsburgh State’s right-handed pitcher Rhea Pitkin has defeated her mental obstacles to embrace her role with the Cardinals.
The sophomore childhood education/special education major joined the softball team during her freshman year and played as one of the three pitchers, alongside her sister, fellow right-handed pitcher Katie Pitkin.
“I was thrown in there so quickly,” Rhea Pitkin said. “I thought as a freshman I wouldn’t be playing as big of a role. But when I got it and we started playing double headers everyday, I panicked. I didn’t think I could do it.”
Rhea Pitkin’s struggles came to light when the team played in Florida last spring.
“I actually forgot how to pitch,” Pitkin said. “I didn’t do very well because my nerves got the best of me.”
Pitkin returned to Plattsburgh feeling defeated.
“I didn’t want to be part of the team,” Pitkin said. “I lost the love for softball because I did so bad.”
At her lowest point, she looked for ways to recollect herself and rebuild her confidence.
“I realized I’ve been [playing softball] for a really long time and for starting as a high school junior pitching I can work through anything,” she said. “I tried to think of all the positives in life.”
Pitkin’s teammates and coaches were also there to support her.
“She was put on the mound because everyone knew she was capable,” Katie Pitkin said. “Having everyone’s support and telling her that we believed in her truly helped her.”
It wasn’t long before Rhea Pitkin began pitching again—this time with more resilience and determination.
She finished her freshman season with a 3.97 ERA and 109 strikeouts in 116 innings.
Off the field, Rhea Pitkin is known for being friendly and bubbly. Katie Pitkin describes her sister as a person who always looks to make everyone laugh.
“She is one of the best people to have as a friend,” Katie Pitkin said. “She is very entertaining and sings a great rendition of “Redneck Woman” by Gretchen Wilson.
But when Rhea Pitkin steps on the mound, she gets down to business.
“I turn everything off,” Rhea Pitkin said. “When I’m actually pitching, I actually do not think about anything. I just look at the glove, aim and have faith in myself that the ball is going to hit the spot that I need it to.”
When she’s not playing games, Rhea Pitkin can be found working on her class assignments. She believes time management is key to balancing softball with school.
“Academics is my number one priority,” Rhea Pitkin said. “I have practice two hours a day, six days a week, so I make sure that after practice I’m getting my work done. I go see a tutor if I’ve missed classes.”
PSUC softball head coach Stephanie Conroy knew Rhea Pitkin had the potential to be a great player ever since she first saw the pitcher play softball in high school.
“She always had a fire in her,” Conroy said. “She seemed to really want to make an impact for her team, and she always wanted to win.”
Rhea Pitkin attributes her success to being perseverant and viewing her losses as lessons.
“Even when you’re getting down on yourself or you’re losing the love for the game, keep pushing through,” she said.
Email Jasely Molina at firstname.lastname@example.org