When at-bats ended in outs, the frustration came out, and Cross Creek coach Lisa White would sometimes have to sit her.
“I used to have a really bad attitude. Oh my gosh. If I’d strike out or something, I’d throw my bat down,” Rouse said. “Now, the next time it happens, I want to just cream the ball. Hard.”
This season, Rouse’s maturation helped the Lady Razorbacks go 26-13, win the Region 3-AAA title and advance to the elite eight of the Class AAA state tournament. As a junior, Rouse hit .449 and drove in 31 runs. For her season – and her ability to perform well in crucial games – Rouse is The Augusta Chronicle’s pick as the area's Georgia softball player of the year.
In the region championship game against Westside, Rouse recorded two hits and scored twice, even catching the final out on a line drive at third.
Then, against Mary Persons in the second round of the state playoffs in a best-of-three series, Rouse hit .500, had two RBI, walked three times and scored five runs in the three games. The series win catapulted Cross Creek to Columbus as one of the final eight teams in Class AAA.
With all but one player back, the team is optimistic a return trip is in the future, though Cross Creek does jump to Class AAAA next season.
“We’re going to definitely go to the elite eight again,” Rouse said. “We know what’s there now. We know what to do.”
Rouse mostly plays third base, but White said she’s put her in pretty much every spot except second base. Just last season, Rouse even played catcher.
“I can put her anywhere on the field and I’d feel comfortable with her in that position,” White said.
Offensively, Rouse models her batting stance off her brother’s. Chris Rouse is a senior at Burke County.
Rouse said she does whatever her brother does, and that includes playing baseball. She has been playing baseball or softball since she was about 4, and she calls softball “what I was born to do.”
After those frustrating beginnings at Cross Creek, Rouse said she’s matured both physically and mentally.
Now when she steps up to the plate, instead of letting past failures get to her, Rouse is making them fuel her drive to improve.
“I have something to look forward to. I want to get up to bat and I want to hit the ball and I want to kill the pitcher,” she said with a laugh.