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Oak Ridge catcher Madyson Ruehling leading Bluejays to winning ways

Junior catcher Madyson Ruehling has recently led the Oak Ridge softball team to win six of its last seven games as the Bluejays are currently on a five-game winning streak. Photo by Nick McNeal

The Oak Ridge softball team started the regular season off just like how every program in any sport does — with a win. However, the Bluejays were then without a vital piece on the diamond and in their batting lineup for the next two games.

Oak Ridge ended up losing these two matchups by double digits and were outscored by a combined total of 37-3, sitting at 1-2 following the first week of the season.

Fast forward to now, though, and the Bluejays are sitting pretty at 7-4 overall and have won five games in a row, including three in their own invitational this past weekend. Through the winning streak, Oak Ridge has outscored opponents 69-7 for an average of 13.8 runs per game while allowing 1.4.

The clear cut difference for the Bluejays was junior catcher Madyson Ruehling returning as Oak Ridge used two different players to try to replace her. Madyson missed those two games after suffering a serious cut on her leg.

“It’s felt amazing to be back with my team and be able to be back on the field,” Ruehling said. “My leg has healed well and hasn’t been giving me any trouble on or off the field! I think that my team and I have a great relationship, and we all want each other to do well.”

Madyson’s duties as the catcher are arguably the most important for any softball team. Ruehling’s relationship with her pitching staff are crucial, as well as is her decision making and awareness of everything going on during each game.

These are roles Ruehling is more than happy to take on, of course, and certainly excels at them as much as any other catcher throughout Southeast Missouri.

“My favorite thing about catcher is that I get to see the whole field,” Madyson said. “Being a catcher has helped me become more vocal as a person. In my second year of catching, I feel like I have improved my ability to block softballs as well as know what pitches to call for my pitchers.”

Thankfully for the Bluejays, Ruehling has quite the great relationship with this year’s pitching staff, which includes sophomore ace Kinsley Bogenpohl and junior Hailey Ward. Bogenpohl has started all but two games for a record of 7-2 and has struck out 89 batters, while posting an earned run average of 2.33.

“The pitchers and I all have such a great chemistry on and off the field because we all grew up together,” Madyson said. “We are also great friends on and off the field as well!”

Almost more impressive, Ruehling has yet to have an error at home plate and is one of Oak Ridge’s three players with a perfect fielding percentage with outfielders Ward and senior Anna Davis. Madyson has also either recorded or assisted for a team-high 93 outs.

Moving to the plate, Ruehling bats in the clean-up spot for the Bluejays as she’s one of her team’s leaders in runs scored (fourth with 11) and improves each game as a batter. In the Oak Ridge Invitational, Madyson scored a combined five runs with two runs batted in.

Also during the winning streak, Ruehling produced three hits with one double, scored three runs and drove another run in for a 15-2 blowout of Delta. She most recently scored two runs and had one RBI in a 15-0 shutout of Grandview.

“Batting in the cleanup spot has given me confidence in my ability to hit for sure,” Ruehling noted. “I enjoy knowing that my coaches and teammates all believe in me that I can do it.”

Madyson and the Bluejays have eight regular-season games remaining on their schedule until the start of the Class 1 District 2 Tournament.

While serving as Oak Ridge’s top arm on the rubber, Bogenpohl is also a standout at the plate as she currently leads the Bluejays with a .581 batting average off 18 hits and has scored 16 runs of her own.

Fellow junior Madalyn Schemel and senior MaKayla Rangel are also batting over .500 at .524 and .520, respectively, while players like Davis and freshman Addilyn Burnett both have double-digit RBIs.

Interestingly enough, Ruehling has already played for a district championship in two different sports this season (volleyball and basketball). Madyson and fellow three-sport athletes Bogenpohl and Schemel lost both of those title games, but Ruehling is confident that this softball team can make some noise in the postseason.

“I try and lead my team by keeping a positive attitude and talking my teammates up,” Ruehling said. “I think that my team and I all have the want to win and succeed. I also think that with our team chemistry being so good that it will really motivate us to extend our season!”

Nick McNeal covers high school sports, college sports and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Cape Girardeau County for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjsports@socket. net.

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