Clarksville, Ark.-Sophomore left fielder Shannon Rainbolt has put up some impressive offensive numbers for the Lady Eagles softball squad during a recent twelve-game stretch and has quietly become one of the top leadoff hitters in the American Southwest Conference.
Rainbolt, a 5-8 native of Vilonia, has batted .452 in her last twelve games and currently leads the team in numerous offensive categories including batting (.364), hits (39), on-base percentage (.424) and stolen bases (7). Head coach Jon Janssen said her change to leadoff hitter has not only paid big dividends for her offensive flare, but also for the squad’s production. "I think one of the biggest things that has helped Shannon the last month or so is her change to the top of the lineup," said Janssen. "She seems to be more focused now. She has the ability to get on base in many ways because she has a keen eye at the plate. When she gets on base, her teammates gain confidence and feed off of that, and that has helped the team be more productive." Rainbolt, an ASC All-East Division honorable mention pick as a freshman last season, attributes her recent success to taking a different approach at the plate. "I have a different perspective at the plate," said Rainbolt. "As the leadoff hitter, I feel like I have more of a responsibility to get on base. I realize starting the offense begins with me. I just want to do whatever I need to do to help the team win." Rainbolt has also been solid in the field, committing only one error this year while maintaining a .984 fielding percentage. "Anytime a ball is hit in the outfield around her I don’t ever worry about it," said Janssen. "Her athleticism is a plus on defense because she is able to run down fly balls. She is one of those young ladies that could play any sport because she has a strong work ethic and natural athletic ability." Rainbolt’s strong finish to the season and her unselfishness is not surprising to Janssen. "When we need a base hit, walk or bunt, she’s gotten it and that shows her discipline and leadership," said Janssen. "She wants to do whatever’s best for the team. She leads by example, working hard at everything she does and that also carries into the classroom. She’s got everything in balance and that bodes well for what type of person she is." The Lady Eagles are currently 16-16 overall and 7-13 in the conference.