WOOD RIVER JCT. — To say Meghan Rousseau exceeded expectations for Chariho High’s softball team this season is a pretty fair statement, possibly an understatement.
The senior outfielder, who had never played a full varsity season or batted higher than .150, led Division I in batting average and was named to the Coaches Association All-State first team.
Rousseau hit .558 (29 for 52) in league games, which according to Chariho coach Dave Petrocelli was tops in the 17-team division. Rousseau, who hit leadoff didn’t just slap the ball either. She had a .654 slugging average in those 16 games with three doubles and a triple while leading the Chargers in runs scored (15).
Not bad for a player who her coach was hoping could play some solid defense and get on base with some bunting to utilize her speed. Rousseau was also named to the Division I first team.
“One thing I want to stress is I’ve never had a hitter who was more consistent from day one to the last day the way she was,” said Petrocelli, who has been the head coach for the past 11 seasons, “I don’t think we had her bunting or slapping at the ball more than 10 times this season because she was just ripping the ball. The stats don’t lie, she didn’t have a slump the entire year.
“Going into the year I was just praying she could handle center field because she had the speed. My other thought process was she could possibly bunt and slap the ball a little bit and get on base.”
Rousseau wasn’t the only Chariho player to get the attention of opposing coaches. Senior first baseman Jess Ryan was named third team All-State and the D-I second.
Freshman Jess Rego played her way onto the Division I honorable mention team. There were 11 players selected to each of the three All-State teams and 12 players to each All-Division team.
Petrocelli said he put Rousseau in the leadoff spot to open the year hoping she could get on base with her speed. He also admitted the thought of batting Rousseau No. 9 crossed his mind. The left-handed hitter went 2 for 4 with a run batted in and a double in the season opener. She went 2 for 3 with a couple of runs in the next game and remained in the leadoff spot until the season was over.
“She came in as a freshman and soccer was her first love. I give her credit, she never stopped working and this year she worked extremely hard getting ready for the season. I’m telling you from day one at practice with soft-toss, the hitting machine, live pitching, she just worked and worked,” Petrocelli said.
While Rousseau certainly stood out at the plate she also had some big moments in the field, including a pair of highlight catches in an 11-0 loss to La Salle in the playoffs.
According to Petrocelli Rousseau will play soccer at the Community College of Rhode Island, but has grown to love the game of softball too. Rousseau was a first team Division III-A soccer player as a senior after leading the Chargers with 10 goals.
“After the La Salle game we all talked on the bus ride home and Meghan told everyone that she had so much fun this season and it was so exciting that it made her love softball as much as she loved soccer,” Petrocelli said.
Ryan used her defensive play at first base to break into the Chariho varsity lineup as a sophomore, but it was adding some offense to her game during her senior season that helped improve her chances of getting the postseason accolades.
Ryan improved her batting average from .242 overall as a junior to .413 (19 for 46) in league play this year. Ryan had a team-high 16 RBIs in her 15 league appearances.
“Jess was a captain and a three-year starter for us. She just got better and better and better defensively,” Petrocelli said. “I would put her up there with anyone at first base. She can scoop the ball and has good hands. Jess deserved it.”
Ryan was a third team All-Division I player as a sophomore.
“Jess has always had a lot of potential at first base. She could always hit and had the talent, but she needed to grow and she did raising her batting average by 100 points. She’s a line drive hitter, a pull hitter who has power from left to center,” Petrocelli said.
Rego, a freshman, hit .273 (12 for 44) in league play, starting all 16 games. She hit a pair of doubles and scored 11 runs, second most by a Charger.
Petrocelli said Rego’s defense at second base was probably what got her the attention needed to make honorable mention, calling her a player who will dive, scratch and claw to make the play.
Senior Alexis Marsella was Chariho’s All-Academic selection.
Chariho finished the season with an 11-12 overall record and went 9-7 in Division I play. The Chargers won a single-elimination playoff game before dropping two straight in the double-elimination portion of the D-I tourney.