Melanie Raterman aspires to pursue a college career throwing the discus.
But her first love is softball.
It’s why she couldn’t imagine a fall without it, even if playing means taking a risk.
Raterman will be one of the most valuable members of the Warrenton softball team as a senior, but she is having to ease her way into the season.
Near the conclusion of her junior track season, Raterman began battling pain around her shoulder blade related to the strain of throwing the discus and shot put. She opted to forego her usual summer routine of playing select softball for the Missouri Warcats.
“It was hard this summer seeing all of my teammates go compete at nationals while I was sitting at home weight lifting or doing physical therapy,” lamented Raterman.
She also missed throwing in AAU competitions, making for a rather mundane off season.
“It was definitely boring not participating, but I did go to track meets to support my other throwers,” said Raterman.
Now it is one week at a time — 50 percent, then 75 — as Raterman works her way back to full strength. The extent of her health will be pivotal to the team’s success, as she is one of the most accurate hitters and fielders.
“You won’t find a better outfielder than Melanie,” said Coach Trevor Hibbs. “She reads the ball well and has great leadership ability too. She’ll communicate well with whoever is out there.”
Last season Raterman batted .438 with 35 hits and 19 RBIs. She is also extremely smart on the base paths, having collected 11 stolen bases a year ago.
“And she’s got a great attitude about everything,” added Hibbs.
Repeating her success from 2011 will mean playing with a cautious approach, while still exerting a solid effort.
“On some of my throws home I definitely want to make sure I can hit my cutoffs so if it’s not going to go strong, then they’ll throw it home,” said Raterman.
At 100 percent, Hibbs says Raterman is among the best in the Gateway Athletic Conference. She was part a tremendous outfield crew last season that has since graduated an all-state performer.
“Melanie made all kinds of great defensive plays,” said Hibbs.
Despite her time away, Raterman says she doesn’t seem to have lost her edge on the diamond.
“Maybe a little rust came off, but I still feel confident,” said Raterman. “My swing may be a little different, and my shoulder gets tired easier.”
Minor adjustments to her game might be evident but her goals aren’t wavering.
“I definitely want to hit some more home runs and bat at least .350 for my average,” said Raterman.
Defensively, she is determined to avoid repeating a few mistakes from last season that still haunt her memory.
“Grounders were my weakness last year, so this year I’m definitely focusing on them,” said Raterman.
Raterman is still taking physical therapy and working on strengthening her shoulder at home as well. In her eyes, a successful season would mean meeting her personal goals and helping the team to a district title, while still feeling strong enough to make a return to state in the discus during the spring.
“I definitely want to win districts and work our way to sectionals,” said Raterman. “We should have a pretty good team.”