Mehaffey sets table for memorable year

Reilly Mehaffey was a First-Team All-Catholic selection for the Ragdolls. MARK ZIMMARO / Times photo

Reilly Mehaffey knew her role well.

She did that, then went above and beyond.

Mehaffey is a senior on the Archbishop Ryan High School softball team, and as the leadoff hitter, her main job at the plate was to get on base.

She did that regularly, too. But she also wanted to set the table, and make life easier for the girls batting behind her. That meant being very selective, at least in her first at-bat of the game.

“As a leadoff hitter, I knew I had to see all the pitches and then tell everyone what they should expect,” said Mehaffey, a Parkwood resident. “It’s exciting to be a leadoff hitter. It’s fun. And if you do it, you can always let everyone see what’s coming and what to expect. I love having that responsibility.”

Mehaffey did it well, too, and it’s one of the reasons the Ragdolls were able to pile up the runs this year. It also led them to an unblemished record in the Catholic League, both during the regular season and the playoffs, leading them to the championship.

“We had a great year, I didn’t expect to go undefeated (against PCL opponents),” said Mehaffey, who scored 38 runs on the year. “I expected we would get a lot of wins, and I really hoped we could win the championship, but I didn’t expect to do as well as we did. We had a really great year, which was perfect. It was my senior year.

“I knew that if I got on, they’d get me in. We had so many good hitters, whenever I got on, they would get me home. We have a great lineup.”

Ryan represented District 12 in the state playoffs, but their situation was less than ideal.

The seniors on the Ragdolls had to race from the Trenton Thunder stadium, where their graduation was held, to Bristol for their first-round game in the Class 4A state playoffs. That ended in a 20-0 loss to Hamburg.

It wasn’t the perfect ending, but for the Ragdolls, and especially the seniors, it was nice to have one more game with their teammates.

“We got there just before the game started, it was a long day and really hot,” Mehaffey said. “They’re a good team, too. We wanted to win, but we had a great year. It was nice to play again with them.

“I think that’s why we were a good team. We are all such good friends. All ages. Not just when playing softball. We all got along so well. It was a family, and we played for each other. I think that made us a better team.”

Mehaffey was a star all season for the Ragdolls, and it’s why she was First-Team All-Catholic. But she was also willing to do whatever it took to help the team.

On her club team, Mehaffey usually plays outfield, but she started the season at second base for the Ragdolls. Midway through the season, Ryan coach John Kidwell wanted to work in a freshman at second base to make the lineup more potent. Mehaffey gladly changed positions to accommodate the team.

“It didn’t matter to me, I liked second base, but I love outfield, too,” Mehaffey said. “And (Kidwell) wanted to get our freshman in, and she’s really good, so I was happy. I wanted to win, it didn’t matter where I played.

“I played outfield a lot in tournament ball, so it wasn’t too new for me. It was really fun, I enjoyed it a lot. I didn’t have to learn a new position, I already knew what to do, so it wasn’t a big deal for me.”

This was a great way to go out for Mehaffey, who has probably played her last softball game, at least while representing her school.

She’s spending this summer down the shore, where she’ll work as a lifeguard at Morey’s Pier waterpark in North Wildwood.

In August, she leaves for the Air Force. First up, she’ll travel to San Antonio for training, and after seven weeks, she’ll start tech school.

“My grandpop was in the military, he was in the Army, and he was always a very big influence in my life,” Mehaffey said. “And I have a cousin that joined the Marines. It’s a tradition I really wanted to follow.

“I picked the Air Force because I really want to be a pilot. I know some people in the Air Force and they love it. I think it will be the best path for me. I’m a little nervous but I’m really excited. I wanted to do something that will make people proud.”

Mehaffey shouldn’t have problems in the Air Force. She’s an athlete, so the physical aspect won’t be a problem. She also has the smarts to do it. She was ranked in the top 10 percent of her senior class.

She’s very excited for the future, but admits she will miss her days at Ryan, especially playing sports.

“I loved Ryan, I met so many friends and everyone is so nice, the students and all the teachers,” Mehaffey said. “I’ll be back to see them. This was a special year. I’m going to be friends with (her teammates) forever. I’ll miss playing with them.”