Alumni corner: Boothe’s journey at Colorado Mesa coming to an end

Holy Family graduate Rachel Boothe is finishing her collegiate softball career with a flourish at Colorado Mesa University.
Photo courtesy of Colorado Mesa athletics
Holy Family graduate Rachel Boothe is finishing her collegiate softball career with a flourish at Colorado Mesa University.

 

If there is a song the that sums up Rachel Boothe’s softball career at Colorado Mesa University, it’s the Grateful Dead’s “Truckin’.”

It says:

“Sometimes the light’s all shinin’ on me/Other times I can barely see/Lately it occurs to me what a long, strange trip it’s been.”

Between a myriad of injuries, coaches and struggles at the plate, the former Holy Family standout has put it all together in her fifth season with the Mavericks and is hoping to finish her journey with a flourish.

“I’m 100 percent happy with my decision, I couldn’t have imagined going any where else and it has honestly been the best five years of my life,” said Boothe, who had options to play all over the country. “The people I have met here have been incredible, from administration, coaches and friends and the town have been awesome. I wouldn’t do it any different.”

Boothe arrived in Grand Junction as part of one of the largest recruiting classes the Mavericks had ever had. One of nine incoming freshmen, Boothe — coming off being named the Metropolitan League player of the year — was redshirted upon her arrival along with seven other players.

And it wasn’t like she was thrown right into the mix during her redshirt freshman campaign a year later. She started just two games, appeared in 13, and had just four plate appearances.

Things picked up dramatically the following season and Boothe found herself more in a regular role. She started 33 games, and despite the .243 batting average was able to belt four home runs, five doubles and a triple.

Then the injury bug bit.

It was shortly after a brutal junior season that saw her hit just .118, that she went in for surgery on a torn labrum in her hip. After six months of grueling rehab and work to get back on the field, “It was about a month or two later that I tore it again,” she said.

“So I have been playing with that for the past year and half. And once I’m done playing this season, I’m going to have to get it fixed again.”

The winds of change that have seen three different coaches through the doors — including Ben Garcia this season — during Boothe’s tenure have blown favorably her way as she ends the end of her career.

Despite playing with a painful bone spur in her right hand, Boothe is hitting a career-best .328 with 10 extra-base hits for the Mavs, who are an impressive 23-16 heading into the weekend. Boothe credits one thing.

“It has just been the mental approach I’ve changed a lot this year instead of previous years,” said Boothe, who will earn her degree in graphic design. “I think I put so much pressure on every at-bat, every pitch and every out, and with softball being such a mental sport, I finally realized that. I’ve matured a lot since having such a bad season last year.

“I kind of had to re-approach the sport again. What am I doing wrong and what went so wrong last year? And in doing that, I realized it all my mentality and my focus were off.”

The fresh approach has been picked up by Garcia and the rest of the team, and Boothe has willingly and gladly taken on the role of a leader. That has also translated into the numbers being up in 2015.

“Being a leader and being a senior, you kind of always have to have that good attitude and be that example of what you want everybody else to be,” she said. “And being that example for everyone else to look up to is really important. It keeps your priorities a little more straight.”

With a game that has given her so much and with season winding down — including a two-game set in Lakewood next weekend against Colorado Christian where some of her old coaches at Holy Family plan to stop by — Boothe has not ruled out giving back.

“I’ve been playing softball since tee-ball and it is crazy to think that I really only have a month left of being a competitive athlete,” said Boothe, who has not ruled out coaching in some capacity. “Since I feel like I have had hurdles to jump over during my college career, I want to be able to share my wisdom and help other people enjoy the game as much as I have.”

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