Menomonee Falls - Menomonee Falls NOW Newspapers All-Suburban softball outfielder Rachel Defnet started her career in the fifth and sixth grade wanting to be either a shortstop or catcher.
But being the smart, pragmatic person that she is, she thought better of it and moved to her current position when she knew she couldn't buck either 2011 NOW All-Suburban Player of the Year and shortstop Hailey Mohrfeld (now on a Division 1 scholarship at UW-Green Bay) and All-Suburban catcher Hailey Wilson who were a year ahead of her at Falls.
"My Dad (Dan) helped me move to a new position," said Defnet with a laugh, "and once I got there (to the outfield) I loved it. I really appreciated that my Dad was willing to spend so much time with me."
Her father would even set up a pitching machine in the backyard to hone her fine hitting skills.
Had same goals
Defnet, who helped the young Indians to a repeat crown in the Greater Metro Conference this season, has always been versatile. She was a top-flight shooting guard/small forward for the highly successful Falls basketball team in the winter.
But in spring, it was always softball. She played with the powerful Falls' Angels club program since she was 12 years old until she joined the Pride of the Midwest this season.
However, she was exceptionally proud of the team this year, as beyond Mohrfeld and Wilson, other top-flight seniors like All-Suburban pitcher Nicole Zywiec and others had graduated as well.
"We did lose a lot of players," she said, "but our goals remained the same: win conference and go to state. But it took a little while to realize how much harder it was to be a leader without players like Hailey (Mohrfeld) and Hailey (Wilson) on the team."
A calm leader
But she worked hard with the other captains, Jamie Ertl and Maddie Eikenmeyer, and the Indians found success in a 17-6 season (12-2 in the GMC) with a squad that featured two freshmen in the starting lineup. A comfort to Defnet and the rest of the team was that there was still a Mohrfeld in the lineup, as Hailey's sophomore sister, Claire, took over at shortstop.
"It was always fun being with these people," said Defnet of her time in softball. "They've been my friends forever and I liked playing with girls who were really competitive."
A four-year starter in the outfield for the Indians, Defnet prided herself on being able to stay calm under pressure.
"I try to remain a very positive person," she said. "It really takes a lot to get me upset. I'll cheer the team on even if I'm having a bad game."
"She was a real linchpin out there," said coach Wendy Wolff. "A quality player who really makes a difference out there."
Defnet was always grateful to her coaches for allowing her to work hard at just one sport at a time and not have to share priorities.
"It did work out well," she said. "I could do one sport at a time (without having to worry about other obligations)."
Fitting end to career
Defnet plans on attending UW-La Crosse in the fall. She will not formally go out for any sports but said she will stay active in intramurals. Her softball career came to a fun end on June 18 and 19 with the Wisconsin Fastpitch Coaches Association Senior All-Star Classic in Stevens Point. A total of 153 players took part in the event and she played in two games in the Classic.
"That was one of the best experiences I've ever had in softball," she said. "I even got to room with the girls from (state champion) Chippewa Falls. They were really neat. It was just so interesting to talk to and meet other people from all over Wisconsin."
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