Walker in hand, Tasha Rinehart worked her way across the infield to the pitcher’s mound. She was there just two weeks after undergoing surgery on her hip to remove a cancerous tumor.
Though the work-from-home mom calls herself “the most unathletic person you’ll ever meet,” it was not enough to stop her from throwing the afternoon’s first pitch.
Rinehart is the older sister of Ball State pitcher Kelsey Schifferdecker. The day meant as much to the freshman as anyone at the softball complex.
“She has work and her son obviously, so she doesn’t get to come visit a lot, so it was really good seeing her,” Schifferdecker said. “It was really great.”
The Ball State softball team asked Rinehart to be a part of their Think Pink game on Sunday. In order to raise awareness for breast cancer, the team sported custom pink jerseys which will be auctioned off to raise money for the Cancer Services of East Central Indiana - Little Red Door.
“When they asked me if I could come and be a part of the Think Pink, I was totally honored,” Rinehart said. “Hands down I was like ‘Yeah, whatever I have to do, I’ll be there.’”
The pitcher said that having her sister in the crowd caused her to put extra pressure on herself. Pressure to perform, and to show her sister that she wanted to play a good game for her.
She did just that.
In the second game of a doubleheader against Mid-American Conference opponent Miami, she threw a complete shutout game — the first of her career.
Through seven innings on the mound, Schifferdecker held the RedHawks to just two hits and one walk. She retired 21 of the 24 batters she faced.
The pressured little sister did more than live up to her own expectations, she gave her team the spark it needed to come out with a win.
In the doubleheader’s first installment, Miami defeated Ball State 3-1. It was the Cardinals’ first conference loss of the season.
The team’s offensive struggles carried into the second game, as it had just two runs over three innings. Coach Craig Nicholson said that Miami was able to pull
Ball State hitters out of their comfort zone, and caused the team to become impatient at the plate.
“We didn’t play very well in the first game — we didn’t hit very well,” Nicholson said. “For her to come out and hold them scoreless until we could kind of get our offense going, was a big part of winning the second game.”
Though the shutout meant a win for the team, it meant even more to Rinehart. It was a rare chance for her to connect with her little sister through her sport of choice.
“Softball is such a big part of her life,” Rinehart said. “So to get to experience something like that with her was a really cool thing.”
Being a part of the softball game meant stepping out of her comfort zone, something Rinehart is no stranger to.
Just two weeks after trying her hand at pitching, Rinehart will model for a fashion show in Kansas City. The show will raise money for a cancer care pavilion.
Whether it is a trip down the runway, or a walk to the pitching mound, Rinehart is doing her part to raise awareness.
Being able to watch a shutout game along the way is just an added bonus.
“The fact that she pitched as amazing as she did, and having her first shutout game I mean, that was just the greatest feeling ever.” Rinehart said. “Getting to watch her do that ... was really, really awesome.”