Delone Catholic softball coach Matt Rickrode is always wearing two hats in the dugout.
To most of the Squirettes, he’s just coach, but to starting pitcher Maggie Rickrode he’s also dad, although she would never call him that on the field.
“My dad isn’t really my dad in the dugout,” Maggie Rickrode said. “Off the field, he’s my dad. On the field, he’s my coach and he treats me just like any other girl. But, I know if I get in a hole, he’s always there to pick me up.”
Matt Rickrode needed to be there for the entire Delone Catholic team following a 5-1 loss to Bloomsburg on Thursday at Lebanon Valley College in the quarterfinals of the PIAA Class 3-A playoffs.
Key inning: The game turned in the fourth inning because of a pair of clutch hits by District 4 champion Bloomsburg (17-8).
Already up 1-0 after an error led to a run in the first inning, the Panthers got two doubles with two outs by infielder Rita Nuss and outfielder Lexus Kreischer that drove in four runs and put the game out of reach.
The Squirettes (20-5) put a run on the board in the bottom of the fifth, but left runners on base. Maggie Rickrode reached base on an error which allowed infielder Kylie Funkhouser to score.
Leaving runners on base: Leaving runs on the bases was a theme throughout the game that plagued Delone.
“They didn’t out hit us, they just had the key hits,” Maggie Rickrode said. “We left too many runners on base and just didn’t get the hits when we needed them.”
Matt Rickrode said that despite it being a state playoff game and his daughter’s last high school contest, he wasn’t any more emotional about this game than her other starts in big games during her career.
“I guess I am getting kind of used to it,” Matt Rickrode said. “(In) three years as a starting pitcher, two district championship games, two state playoff games and played at Penn State.”
Daughter-father bond: Despite losing a game where she had four strikeouts and allowed four earned runs on four hits, Maggie Rickrode said that there’s nothing like having her dad in the dugout as her coach.
“It’s definitely different,” Maggie Rickrode said. “I feel so much more comfortable being on this field with him as my coach because he knows me better than any other coach.”
Coaching one of his daughters is nothing new for Rickrode. As an assistant coach at Delone Catholic, he was on the staff when his daughter Cassie Rickrode was a Squirette. Cassie Rickrode graduated in 2016 and pitches at McDaniel College.
“Everybody should get to coach their daughters,” Matt Rickrode said. “As long as they’re not too hard on them, as some can be. It’s a wonderful experience and a great way to spend time with them.”
Year of firsts: Although the season ended earlier than he envisioned, Matt Rickrode was proud of the year his team put together. It was year of firsts for the first-year head coach after earning a promotion from assistant coach.
Delone Catholic became first team from Division IV to win the York-Adams League playoff crown. His group also is the lone Squirettes squad to win York-Adams League playoff title.
“Wonderful season,” Matt Rickrode said. “We’ve accomplished a lot of our goals. We won our division and got to the district championship. We wanted to go a little further, but I’m happy with it.”
Maggie Rickrode echoed her father’s thoughts on the season and wants to see her teammates build off the successful season they had this year.
“I am really proud of how we came out,” Maggie Rickrode said. “We wanted to get further than we did last year and we did that. I hope that next year they can make it to the semifinals. I am just really proud of our team this year.”
Reach Rob Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org.