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Indiana's Keagan Rothrock Named 2021-2022 Gatorade National Softball POY

Indiana's Keagan Rothrock Named 2021-2022 Gatorade National Softball POY

Indiana's Keagan Rothrock recently was named the 2021-2022 Gatorade National Softball Player of the Year. The news came as a complete surprise to her.

Jun 10, 2022 by Stephen Kerr
Indiana's Keagan Rothrock Named 2021-2022 Gatorade National Softball POY

Keagan Rothrock has come a long way from her days as a fourth-string pitcher with the Indiana Gators. She hasn't forgotten the frustration or the long hours spent working out in her backyard and at a local facility to get better.

Rothrock, who is about to enter her senior year at Roncalli (Indiana) High School, played for the Gators from 10U to her first year of 12U. Her career began to take off when she joined the Beverly Bandits at age 12, followed by stints with Tennessee Mojo and her current travel team, Lady Dukes Softball.

The transformation has been nothing short of spectacular. 

The 5-foot-10 righthander has evolved from a pitcher who had trouble throwing strikes to becoming the nation's top softball player. This week, she was named the 2021-2022 Gatorade National Softball Player of the Year. The news came as a complete surprise to her.

"It's huge," Rothrock said of receiving the honor. "I didn't know any of this was happening. It's always been one of my dreams to win this award, but I never thought about it actually coming true. I have really worked hard for this."

The award wasn't the only surprise Rothrock received. Her family was present during the announcement, along with the entire Roncalli softball team and members of the school's volleyball and girls basketball teams.

"There was a lot of people here," Rothrock said. "It was an amazing reaction from everybody, and we were all super happy."

The Gatorade Player of the Year Selection Committee, which consists of coaches, scouts, media and others, chose Rothrock from nearly half a million other student-athletes who play softball across the country. 

The award recognizes outstanding athletic excellence, as well as high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character on and off the field.

"There are plenty of sports awards for high school athletes, but what sets Gatorade Player of the Year apart is how we look at the whole athlete," said Gatorade Senior Vice President and General Manager Brett O'Brien. 

"Keagan Rothrock's achievements in sport, in the classroom and in her community are head and shoulders above the competition, which is why she is so deserving of this award."

Both of Rothrock's parents have played a major role in her success. Greg is a former baseball player, while her mother, Laura, played college softball at Purdue Fort Wayne and is a pitching instructor in Indianapolis. Laura has worked extensively with Keagan, teaching her everything from mechanics to having the proper attitude in the circle.

"She's always been one of my biggest inspirations," Keagan Rothrock said. "She was a pitcher in college, and she went through the recruiting process and all the things I went through growing up. She's always been there for me. She's the one I always went to for advice. Even now, when I'm pitching, she's there and always has great answers."

Over the years, Rothrock has put in countless hours honing her craft. With her mom's help, she began to learn how to throw strikes consistently and develop a commanding presence in the circle. Even during her lowest moments, she believed she could be a dominant pitcher.

"My mom and dad were always pushing me," Rothrock recalled. "That was one of the biggest things for me, even when I did struggle."

Rothrock lost out on having a freshman season at Roncalli in 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic shut down the season, but she has more than made up for it the past two seasons. 

As a sophomore, she led the Royals to a 31-2 mark and a state championship. Rothrock posted a 24-2 record with a 0.13 ERA and 364 strikeouts, while allowing just six walks and 40 hits in 160.1 innings. 

She pitched a whopping seven no-hitters, five perfect games and 13 shutouts. As dominating as she has been in the circle, Rothrock was no slouch at the plate, batting .421 with three homers and 21 RBI.

This season has been just as impressive, with the Royals poised to win another state title. 

At the time of her selection for the Gatorade award, Rothrock had led the Royals to a perfect 32-0 record and a berth in the Class 4A state championship game. She owned a 27-0 mark with a 0.73 ERA and 366 strikeouts in 163.1 innings. She hit .529 with 14 homers, 54 RBIs and a 1.628 OPS.

Rothrock was a National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-American and a MaxPreps First Team All-American. She also had the opportunity to represent Team USA in the U18 Women's Softball World Cup.

Before the NCAA changed its recruiting rules, college coaches began taking notice of Rothrock as early as sixth grade, but she already knew which school she wanted. 

Rothrock drew inspiration from watching Florida Gators standout pitcher Kelly Barnhill, a three-time All-American and National Player of the Year. Rothrock committed to the Gators in seventh grade.

"I learned a lot from (Kelly) over the years," Rothrock said. "One of the biggest things is just keep a straight face on the mound, even if things aren't going your way. She was always good at that. She's a great inspiration to everybody, all the younger girls across the country."

Since the program's inception in 1985, Gatorade Player of the Year recipients in 12 different sports have won hundreds of professional and college championships, and many have turned into pillars of their communities. The award has recognized softball players since 1997, including Jordyn Bahl, Jayda Coleman, Kelley Lynch, Megan Faraimo and Rachel Garcia.

A talented artist and editor of her school's yearbook, Rothrock has also volunteered locally on behalf of Servant's Heart of Indy, Riley Hospital for Children and Powerhouse Training softball camps. She also conducts private instruction for youth players in hitting and pitching almost daily, donating most of her earnings to her church.

With one year left before entering college, Rothrock is focused on getting even better as a player and raising her GPA in the classroom.

"Any records I haven't broken yet that I've been working to, they're the ones I'd like to work for my senior year," Rothrock said.