Rubbelke sets the tone

Shortstop Jamie Rubbelke leads off for the streaky Pipers as they head into postseason play.

Junior Jamie Rubbelke celebrates after scoring a run for the Pipers.

Paul Patane, Senior Reporter

With the Pipers fighting at the top of the MIAC standings in softball this season, there has been a steady supply of productive leadoff hitting provided by junior shortstop Jamie Rubbelke.

Traditionally not the most vocal or outspoken Piper, Jamie often chooses to take a backseat to her senior teammates. Instead, she leads by example on the field but has made more of an effort this season to be vocal when needed.

Softball head coach and Jamie’s father, Jim Rubbelke, has had the opportunity to watch Jamie develop a solid leadoff skill set as she wraps up her junior season.

“She’s learned that by having a good attitude and being positive she plays better,” Jim said.

In addition to playing with a positive mindset, Jamie focuses on taking a lot of pitches early in games to help her teammates get a better sense of opposing pitchers and what kind of pitches they are prone to throw. It is an intangible skill that requires patience. As games progress, Jamie adjusts her approach to provide her team with some timely hits.

“It depends at what point in the game it is,” Jamie said. “You get a feel for what she’s [the opposing pitcher] going to throw to you.”

Sophomore pitcher Casey Anderson appreciates Jamie taking a lot of pitches when games first begin.

“She’s a great leadoff hitter,” Anderson said. “She takes a lot of pitches for us to see on the bench.”

It’s an approach that has paid off for the Pipers as Jamie’s batting average is .365 with a .513 slugging percentage through Saturday, April 25. She’s also belted a couple home runs and 11 doubles this season.

Beyond being productive at the plate with a bat, Jamie has been durable and defensively sound, both important qualities in a shortstop. She has played in every game this season which has been key for a team with only 13 players that has had to play doubleheaders exclusively all season long.

Jamie playing for her father presents a unique opportunity that most athletes never get to experience, but Jim and Jamie both agree she receives no special treatment.

Jamie stated if anything, Jim is a little harder on her than the rest of the Pipers.

“It’s definitely harder. I get no special treatment. I like playing for him, but he’s a little harder on me than easier,” Jamie said.

Jim suggested Jamie is treated the same as everyone else on the field, but off the field there may be differences.

“I think behind the scenes I may be a little harder on her, but in front of the team, I spoil them all,” Jim said.

Anderson agrees Jamie is not treated differently from the other players, but she recognizes personality traits shared between father and daughter.

“She’s one of us. You can tell that they’re father and daughter,” Anderson said. “They’re both really competitive people.”

Jamie has another year of college life and softball left before she needs to figure out what comes next. At this point, Jim is convinced she is on a path that will lead her to staying involved in the world of sports and maybe at some point, being a coach.

“I think she wants to be involved in athletics, someway, somehow,” Jim said.

Jamie hinted at wanting to stay involved in athletics as well.

“Hopefully, I’ll stick around here a little bit with my dad and the girls,” Jamie said.

Before graduating and moving on, Jamie hopes to continue to evolve as a player and young woman.

“I want to be a role model for the younger girls on the team and do well in school,” Jamie said. “I’m growing up a little bit, knowing I’ll be in the real world soon.”

Anderson already notices Jamie’s efforts to help her younger teammates.

“She’s really stepped up as a leader. She’s more vocal and supportive,” Anderson said. “She’s kind of a mentor to the younger girls.”

Jamie and the second place Pipers will compete in the MIAC softball tournament which begins on Friday, May 1, and runs through Sunday, May 3, at first place Bethel University.