Her GPS really isn’t messed up
Rachel Rousseau has a GPS problem.
Is the Marshall University softball program’s sophomore outfielder lost?
Uh, not exactly.
But most people in her hometown of Morgantown certainly think so. I mean, she’s playing sports and attending classes at Marshall — of all places — in Huntington — of all places.
There are pariahs more welcome in Morgantown than Rousseau.
“Do I catch any grief when I go back home to Morgantown?” she said, repeating the question. “A-l-l-l-l-l the time. Every single person when they find out where I go to school, they say, ‘Ohmigosh, that’s a sin. You can’t go to Marshall.’
“They say, ‘I guess I can put on green for you.’ I have caught so much grief for it, but it’s all right.”
It’s all right because Rousseau didn’t exactly have the option to stay home and play for West Virginia University.
That’s because, for some inexplicable reason, the Mountaineers don’t field a softball program.
“That had a lot to do with it,” said the sophomore. “Marshall and WVU are such rivals. Especially in-state. But WVU didn’t have a softball program and, obviously, they weren’t going to get one. They’ve been pretty consistent on that.
“So, I just came to Marshall and I thought, ‘I don’t think I want to go there,’ but as soon as I got here I fell in love with Marshall. It was like, that’s where I want to be. . . . I don’t want to be anywhere else.
“Even if WVU had a softball program, I didn’t want to stay that close to home. It was a pretty easy decision once I got here. I loved it.”
It made it easier when her parents, Greg and Vicky, supported her decision wholeheartedly. Although Rousseau’s father actually pitched for WVU’s baseball program, he actively questioned why the Mountaineers don’t have softball.
Besides that, Rousseau’s older siblings — brother Bryan Willard and sister Emily Rousseau — both attended WVU.
So, was Rachel Rousseau a bit of a maverick.
And what’s wrong with that?
Particularly since Rousseau bloomed during the 2019 season, eventually starting 34 games. The lanky 5-foot-8 outfielder batted .252 with nine doubles, one triple and seven home runs with 30 RBI. Her .551 slugging percentage ranked third on the team.
Yes, indeed, she is right at home.
It still surprises Rousseau, however, that WVU doesn’t have a softball program.
“Yeah, especially with how big the sport is growing,” she said. “A lot of big schools are getting softball programs. So, the fact that WVU won’t start one is really surprising.
Especially with them being in the Big 12. Softball is just up and coming. It has really surprised me that they haven’t started a program at WVU.”
Marshall coach Megan Smith echoed those sentiments, but with a caveat.
“Softball is huge in the Big 12,” said Smith, who was Kansas’ softball coach for nine years in the Big 12. “But a lot of schools don’t have softball, and they all surprise me because it’s my favorite sport. Just watch the coverage on ESPN. It surprises me that WVU doesn’t have a softball program.
“But I’m OK with West Virginia not having it because we want to keep the best West Virginia girls here. We want Rachel Rousseau here, not at West Virginia. So, I’m fine with it.”
Well played, Megan.
So, all’s well that ends well. As long as it ends up here in Huntington.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at email@example.com.