Duo raising Rustin's profile

Opponents don't steal on West Chester Rustin pitcher Caela Abadie (left) and catcher Anna Steinmetz. The two also wield potent bats.    CLEM MURRAY / Staff
Opponents don't steal on West Chester Rustin pitcher Caela Abadie (left) and catcher Anna Steinmetz. The two also wield potent bats.    CLEM MURRAY / Staff
Posted: March 28, 2014

One-and-a-half seconds.

That's Anna Steinmetz's pop time - the period it takes for a softball to touch the catcher's glove and then touch the infielder's glove at second base.

It's pretty fast.

It's also the reason not many teams try to steal bases on the West Chester Rustin junior.

"Teams do not steal on her," coach Bruce Dudley said. "The other day in a scrimmage, they tried, and the ball was waiting for the girl at second base."

All-state for two consecutive seasons, Steinmetz made her mark early for the Golden Knights, bursting on the scene as a freshman. The University of Delaware recruit solidified her status as one of the area's top players behind the plate last year when she hit .564 from the leadoff position.

With quick hands and a strong arm, Steinmetz is part of a dynamic duo with sophomore pitcher Caela Abadie.

"My biggest thing is to find middle infielders that can get to the bag and catch the ball," Dudley said of Steinmetz's throwing ability. "They have to physically be able to catch the ball. She throws it so hard."

She can hit the ball, too.

Not accustomed to batting first, but placed there to avoid being pitched around, Steinmetz earned an on-base percentage of .684, homered seven times, hit eight doubles, and knocked in 18 runs in 2013.

But if opposing teams thought the difficult part of the Rustin lineup was over once Steinmetz had her at-bat, they were wrong.

In stepped Abadie to the batter's box.

Abadie hit .538 last year, with 12 home runs, 10 doubles, and 50 RBIs. It was one of the best offensive seasons ever for a freshman in state softball.

"Not even kidding, I would sit on first base ready to walk the bases because I just knew something was going to happen," Steinmetz said.

Dudley, Steinmetz, and Abadie will tell you it's the offense that anchors this Golden Knights team.

But the defense isn't too shabby, either.

"As a coach, you only get that talent once, maybe twice in a lifetime, and I've got two of them on here," said Dudley, now in his fourth year at the helm.

Abadie pitched every inning for Rustin as a freshman, and her relationship with Steinmetz, her catcher, has gotten increasingly better. The two are remarkably close, and Steinmetz joked that she wanted to take Abadie under her wing last year, but that the freshman didn't need it.

The two play tournament ball together on Delco Chaos Gold, and that experience has helped the tandem's rapport.

"She knows what works, what doesn't," Abadie said. "It really helps when she can call a timeout, come talk to me, know what's up, and I usually can get right back in because Anna can snap me out of it."

Steinmetz calls most of the pitches, and Abadie completely trusts her judgment.

"She doesn't let the at-bat before control what happens next," Steinmetz said of the righthander. "She's the type of girl that just lets everything shake off."

Rustin teams of the past have settled for one-run losses and .500 seasons, Dudley said, but not this one - not if Steinmetz and Abadie have anything to say about it.

"I think we are more prepared than we were last year," Abadie said. "We want to put a banner up there this year, and I think we can do it."

The banner in question is one for a Ches-Mont League American Division championship. The Knights also want to finish the season several games over .500 and qualify for the PIAA District 1 Class AAAA tournament for only the second time in team history.

It is all a part of the program Dudley is building, and Steinmetz, for one, is excited about how well the players are buying into the system.

There is a lot to be excited about with Rustin softball these days.

Including the prospect of the opposition's trying to steal on Steinmetz.


rallysports@phillynews.com

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