News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Given to Fly

June 1, 2007

Given to fly: Coach brings more than stability to softball team

CLAY CITY — Clay County farmer Roger Rhodes’ thoughts on the family farm could also go for the Clay City softball team’s fortunes this season.

“We’re on schedule this year. It’s been a pretty good spring,” Rhodes said, referring to his farming business with his brother Rusty Rhodes.

Rhodes took over the Eels’ softball program in 2006, one year after daughter Loni graduated after a four-year career for the Eels.

Clay City is 18-3 this year and within two games of reaching the Class A state finals. The Eels take on Turkey Run on Saturday in the Class A North Daviess Regional.

Roger saw the Eels come up short in the championship of the sectional four straight years under three different coaches during his daughter’s playing career.

“I’ve always loved softball,” Roger said. “Someone had to start the program and stay with it for a while. I’ve been working with the youth league. That was my goal.”

Rhodes could have stood by while the program struggled for stability.

“You gotta make time to do what you want to do in life,” Rhodes explained.

The head coach knew he was inheriting a team destined for success.

“They can go as far as they believe in themselves,” Rhodes said. “I knew we were going to have a good team. The girls have worked hard over past summers. They’ve all had some good coaching.”

Among the influences on his players are Jeff Jacso, who has helped freshman pitcher Shelby Targett the last couple years, and Gary Iocoangelli. Rhodes also mentioned Vaughn Bettenbrock, whose daughter Kari played for Clay City and is now a junior on Indiana University’s team.

“And my daughter Loni, she’s been a big help and knows a lot about the game,” Rhodes said.

Loni Rhodes, a key left-handed bat in the Eels’ lineup for four years, has been a student at Indiana State the past two years, where she spent one fall season playing for the Sycamores’ softball team.

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