A gold medal for Ryleigh Buck and U.S. Women’s Baseball team

first_imgRyleigh Buck – Wellington, Kansas.by Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — There’s no rest for the weary. For Ryleigh Buck, 17-years-young, her schedule looks like one occupied by a corporate executive.Buck is putting away the baseball pants and the cap, picking up her glove and finding a yellow ball before heading to California to play girls softball for a national traveling team in California. She won’t be returning to Wellington until August 10 where she will embark on her senior year at WHS.Buck, as most of you know was a member of the U.S. Women’s Baseball team which returned from Toronto, Canada, as gold medalists. The U.S. team made history becoming the first women’s baseball squad to win a gold medal in the Pan Am games.Women’s Baseball is still an anomaly. After we first reported that Buck was trying out for the U.S. team, one of the first comments after the story was “don’t you mean softball?” Baseball has traditionally been reserved for the boys. The baselines are 90 feet compared to 60 feet for softball. The pitching mound is 60 feet to the softball circle’s 45 feet. The center field wall is usually 400 feet while in softball its 200.In the Pan-Am games, just one woman hit a home run in baseball.Some may question whether baseball will ever become a major sport in the women’s athletic world where softball has become the summer pastime.“Oh, I like softball,” Buck said about her preference. “But I have to admit this is a lot of fun as well.”Buck during her pinch run in Pan Am games.Buck didn’t play much at the Pan Am games. She never got to the plate or play on defense. Her lone appearance came in the top of the sixth inning as a pinch runner in a rather easy 9-0 U.S. victory over Puerto Rico in a pool play game Thursday.There are several reasons for this. First of all, if you watched these women play, they are dang good. After all this is “Team USA.”Buck was also a newcomer – one of four girls out of 36 who tried out and made the team. She was also one of the youngest players on the team.Most of these women were older, including shortstop Tamara Holmes, who is a 40-year-old fire fighter. Some have already played for college softball teams.And then there is Sarah Hudek, the daughter of former major leaguer John Hudek, who signed a college scholarship to play men’s baseball at the Louisiana’s Bossier Parish Community College.Most of the players on the team for whatever reason grew up playing baseball instead of softball.While both the U.S. men baseball team and the women’s softball team lost their gold medal games, the U.S. women’s baseball team clinched gold in rather easy fashion.Ryleigh Buck getting instructions from Team USA coach Jonathan Pollard.The U.S. women opened with an impressive 10-6 victory over Venezuela to open the tournament. The U.S. then buried Cuba 11-0 before beating up Puerto Rico.But game four on Friday was the big game. U.S. was to play Canada in front of a raucous home crowd at Ajax Sports Complex east of Toronto.The way the Pan Am tournament worked, all teams play in a pool and the top three teams are then bracketed for the medal finals. Two teams play the bronze medal game with the top pool team waiting the winner.A loss on Friday for either the U.S. or Canada would not be the end of the world, but it made for a difficult road ahead. The loser would have to play an extra game, and as any baseball aficionado knows it’s always about the pitching.Canada was throwing their ace, Jessica Bérubé. And for three innings, it looked as if this game would go down to the wire with some kind of walk off run to end the game.USA Women’s Baseball team at opening ceremonies of gold medal game (USA Baseball photo).But U.S. scored three runs in the top of the fourth using a blast by third baseman Michelle Snyder to break a scoreless stalemate.Then twice in the later innings, U.S. would thwart Canada rallies, which managed to get girls on third base with no outs in two of the last three innings and yet finish with just one run in a 3-1 defeat.Nobody would say it out loud, but the conventional wisdom amongst everyone after Friday’s game was Canada was done. The red maple leaf team had to get through Venezuela on Saturday, and deplete its pitching which already lacked the depth that the U.S. had.On Sunday, the U.S. team would explode with 12 hits taking a 5-0 lead en route to an 11-3 victory. The Canadians would finally score on the Americans in the top of the fourth with three runs, but the U.S. responded with three runs in the fifth and sixth inning to clinch victory.Buck is now a gold medal winner, something that probably no Wellington, Kans. athlete can say.Her mother, Sheila, said the gold medal will be framed with her Team USA jersey.As far as Ryleigh in the future, she said she doesn’t know what her future will be in baseball. She has already returned to her roots in softball. She will play for her dad, T.D. Buck, this spring as a shortstop for the Wellington Crusaders.And then she has verbally committed to play for Central Florida University.The U.S. baseball team will congregate again next year. But the spotlight won’t be there. 2016 is an Olympic year, and women’s baseball is not part of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio deJaneiro, Brazil.Maybe in 2020, women’s baseball will be an official Olympic sport. By that time, Ryleigh will be 22. That’s a long time in a woman’s life.But if this ends up being her lone salvo in baseball, a gold medal is one heck of a souvenir to show for the experience.See more Sumner Newscow photos here.Follow us on Twitter. Close Forgot password? Please put in your email: Send me my password! Close message Login This blog post All blog posts Subscribe to this blog post’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Subscribe to this blog’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Follow the discussion Comments (3) Logging you in… Close Login to IntenseDebate Or create an account Username or Email: Password: Forgot login? Cancel Login Close WordPress.com Username or Email: Password: Lost your password? Cancel Login Dashboard | Edit profile | Logout Logged in as Admin Options Disable comments for this page Save Settings Sort by: Date Rating Last Activity Loading comments… You are about to flag this comment as being inappropriate. Please explain why you are flagging this comment in the text box below and submit your report. The blog admin will be notified. Thank you for your input. +1 Vote up Vote down Crusader Pride · 263 weeks ago Awesome job, congrats. We are so proud of you. The highlight of a summer of sports. Report Reply 0 replies · active 263 weeks ago +2 Vote up Vote down Local · 263 weeks ago Congratulations Ryleigh! Report Reply 0 replies · active 263 weeks ago 0 Vote up Vote down Monty Schmitz · 263 weeks ago Congratulations Ryleigh! I know your grandma Barbara is mighty proud of you. Your grandpa Gary, although he may not say it, is proud of you also. I say this because Gary is my first cousin. Therefore, I am quit familiar of his and my families feelings. I congratulate TD and Sheila on raising your children. Report Reply 0 replies · active 263 weeks ago Post a new comment Enter text right here! 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