SENECA – Sarah Radtke is one year behind the second most prolific varsity softball home run hitter in state history at Seneca High School, 2013 graduate Nicole Pihl.
Although Radtke has not gotten the kind of attention Pihl, who is playing at DePaul University, did during her time with the Irish, she has become a legitimate middle-of-the-order threat herself. Through Thursday, Radtke was batting .429 with six doubles, five home runs and 27 RBIs.
Radtke plans to attend and play softball at Illinois Valley Community College in the fall, but she has more she wants to do for the Lady Irish first, as she shared with the Morris Daily Herald this week.
Johnson: You’re known, I guess, probably better than anything as a power hitter as a softball player. What else are you going bring to IVCC?
Radtke: Well, I’m solid defensively, and I am a good – well, I think I’m a good teammate. I like to cheer on my team and pick people up when they’re down, and just a good attitude.
Johnson: Were there any other schools you looked at, and if so, how did your choice come about?
Radtke: Well, I also looked at Monmouth, but I didn’t really want to go anywhere far. I didn’t want to leave my mom or anything. I don’t know. I just like being close to home.
Johnson: Have they told you what kind of role you might have on the team?
Radtke: Third base and hitting – just like here.
Johnson: When did you get your start in softball?
Radtke: I played T-ball when I was little, and then I never wanted to stop playing baseball when I was little, ’cause I wanted to be like Kevin Costner in all his baseball roles. And then I finally, when I was older, it took me a while to go play softball, and when I finally played – all through these years, I just wanted to be like Billy Chapel or Crash Davis, just like them.
Johnson: When did you hit your first home run?
Radtke: I don’t know. That’s a good question. Not for a while. ’Cause when I played travel ball when I was little, I never really played a lot, but I played for probably one of the best coaches, besides like Mr. (Dan) Stecken and Mr. (Don) Brown, I played for Pete Sutton, and he was a really good coach. And I didn’t play much, but he taught me a lot, so probably like the year after that, when I was in like seventh grade.
Johnson: OK, your first one doesn’t seem to have left too big of a memory. Which one stands out the most in your mind?
Radtke: We were playing St. Joe Ogden (in a 2012 Class 2A sectional final), and we lost super bad – we lost like 16-3 – but in the first inning, I hit a home run off the light post, and it was just probably the best home run I’ve ever hit, and even though we lost, it was like in the first inning, got us super pumped, and I was a sophomore.
Johnson: I know up until this year, Pihl was in the program and was not only one of the best players in Seneca history, but one of the best power hitters. What was it like playing under her, and now that she’s gone, how has your role changed in terms of what you try to do for the team?
Radtke: When Nicole was on the team, she would get walked all the time. My role was to hit for her, get mad ’cause they would walk her, and now I just ... hitting second, it’s kinda the same, because Jenni (Nugent) usually gets on and I’ll hit and try to bring her around. But it’s totally different ’cause Nicole was a big part of this team, and she was loud and she was there for everyone, to pick ’em up, and that’s what I try to do this year. So I feel like having her all these years helped me be who I am today.
Johnson: What do you want to accomplish, or what kind of legacy do you want to leave before you leave Seneca?
Radtke: I already hit more home runs than last year – I want to hit a lot of home runs this year. I want to hit six more, and I also wanna be ... I don’t know. I’m obviously no Nicole Pihl. I want to be not the best but someone who’s good, hitting and fielding, and a good teammate.