It would be hard for any in-state girls softball player to say no to Jen Fisher.
Her record speaks for itself. Everywhere the coaching profession has taken her, be it at the club level, Otero Junior College, Metro State or now at Colorado State, it is hard to argue with the numbers.
For Shae Rodriguez, things could not have worked out better when it was time to decide where to continue her playing career after a wildly successful run at Legacy that included four Class 5A state titles.
“Coach Fisher and her staff are just amazing and I really wanted to play for her,” Rodriguez said. ” When she went up there is was just a blessing and it all worked out fine.”
After initially recruiting Rodriguez during her tenure at Metro State, Fisher returned home to Fort Collins — where she starred at Rocky Mountain High — to resurrect the Rams. After making things “work out” Rodriguez has been a staple in Fisher’s lineup for the last three years, starting as a freshman, and turning a program that was just an eight win team in into an annual Mountain West contender.
“Fort Collins is somewhere I wanted to end up just because it still close to home but at the same time far away from home,” said Rodriguez, who was an all-conference selection all four years at Legacy. “I actually wanted to play for coach Fisher and went she went up to Fort Collins, it just made everything so much better and things fell into place.”
Rodriguez started as a freshman and started all 51 games in her initial campaign. She hit .327 and drove in 41 runs en route to Academic All-Mountain West Conference honors.
The Rams won 21 more games in 2013 than they did the previous year and Rodriguez was a big part of that. She capped off that season with a huge night against New Mexico in front of the home fans, going 4 for 4 with two home runs and five RBIs.
All the numbers and wins were great, but her proudest moment has yet to be fulfilled.
“My proudest moment was being able to start as a freshman and then hopefully being able to start my entire four years as a college athlete,” she said. “It’s about being around the girls. You come in as a freshman, and being around the girls, you already have 20 best friends and a new family. Just being around them and travel with them and the whole experience is awesome.”
In 2014, the Rams upped their win total to 32 games and a runner-up finish in the Mountain West. It was the first time she got to compete against her former Legacy teammate Buggs Torrez as well, when the Rams faced Boise State this season.
“We came up to each other and gave each other a big hug. It’s always nice to see Buggs,” said Rodriguez, a health and exercise major that hopes to go into cardiac rehab after graduation. “We swore that we were going to end up on the same team and play together in college, but she will always be one of my best friends.”
Like most players that have the benefit of playing for Dawn Gaffin at Legacy, Rodriguez looks back at her time and realizes the influence that her former coach had not just on her game but as a whole person.
With just one season left in the cleats, Rodriguez will use some of the lessons she learned from her high school days this spring as a senior leader for the Rams.
“(Dawn) did a lot of team building stuff and I think that has got me to where I am today. It’s about stepping up and being a leader for my team,” Rodriguez said. “And with this being my senior year this year, that is going to be a really key, taking this team and leading it in the right direction.”
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