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Bock and Roll: Coatesville senior hopes for one more chance to play her favorite song

When Coatesville senior third baseman Kayla Bock was preparing for the spring 2020 season, she was aiming at a couple of lofty milestones – 100 career hits and 100 career RBIs.

Both goals were realistically within reach – after her junior softball season for the Raiders, Bock had 87 hits and 72 RBIs, and well as a .500 career batting average and 21 home runs.

“Kayla is the most feared power hitter in the area,” said Coatesville softball head coach Bill Mendenhall on Monday.  “She is an extremely hard worker who is highly driven to constantly improve all aspects of her game.”

Then came the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, the closing of all local high schools, and the possible cancellation of the spring high school sports season.

“The closing of schools happened so fast, I don’t think any of us seniors were expecting it to make such a big impact,” said Bock. “It [possible cancellation] really is heartbreaking; I grew up playing at Caln and when I heard that Coatesville would be permitted to hold night games at Caln, I was ecstatic. If you would have told me at the end of last season it was the last time I would ever step foot on Caln Field wearing Coatesville across my chest, I would have laughed in disbelief.”

Bock is also the president of Coatesville’s Talaria Club (yearbook),  and the COVID-19 pandemic presented her with another related challenge.

“With the pandemic, we were at the point that if we didn’t finish our yearbook in two days, we would not have been able to publish it,” said Bock. “So the first day we had off, two other staff members and I went into the school and finished the final pages. Although my senior season was starting to disappear, I wanted to give the rest of my senior class all the memories that I knew they’d cherish for a lifetime.”

Bock, who was a first team All-Ches-Mont and first team DLN All-Area softball selection in both her junior and sophomore seasons, has many fond Coatesville softball memories to cherish. Her favorite memory is a night game against Avon Grove during her freshman year.

“After tryouts  that season, I had been rostered with JV, and I will never forget Coach Bill [Mendenhall] saying to me ‘I want you to make me regret this decision,’ then as night games started to approach, he would have me stay suited up for varsity, and in a night game against Avon Grove, the bases were loaded and we were at the top of the lineup; all of the sudden he called my name and put me in the two hole,” said Bock.

“I took a deep breath and stepped into the box. I can definitively say that was the most nerve-wracking moment of my life. Then, I smacked it into right center for a walk off grand slam and as I was packing up my bag Coach Bill yelled to me, ‘Bock, you’re with me the rest of the season.’” 

Bock said, “In my freshman year I decided to set 10 goals for myself. At the time my main goal was to make varsity and from there forward beat the number of home runs I had each year. I met both goals. This season, in particular, I wanted to surpass not only the 100 hit mark, but the 100 RBI mark as well. I also really wanted to be considered for DLN All Area Player of The Year. As for later down the road, I hope to be placed in the Coatesville Hall of Fame.”

The Coatesville senior even set softball goals for the off-seasons.

“During the off-season on the East Coast, indoor [practice] only allows you to achieve so much,” said Bock. “However, one priority I made, believe it or not, was catching for my pitchers during their warmups. I was really able to recognize how each pitch they’d throw would break or move. I would then in turn use that to the best of my ability while I was in the batter’s box.”

Next fall, Bock will be attending Rutgers University, where she will be playing softball.

“What initially attracted me to Rutgers was the coaching staff,” said Bock. “I never really heard of ‘Rutgers Softball,’ but as soon as Coach Butler stepped in that all changed. Rutgers is very family oriented and competitive. Not only did they take an interest in me, but they showed interest in my entire family, which is important to me. Also, I think being a Coatesville athlete in general, we’re used to always being looked at as the underdogs, and that is exactly how it is at Rutgers too. I love what Coach Butler preaches, and she’s determined to bring home a Big Ten Championship. I’m hoping that I can help her achieve that. 

 

“In general I am being looked at by Rutgers as a corner infielder. The whole staff told me, ‘If you hit, you play,’ and I will be doing everything in my power to perform.”

Bock will be majoring in Sports Management at Rutgers and plans to get a Masters in Administration to become an Athletic Director.

“I am very close to our previous AD, Mr. Matt McCain, who is now at West Chester University, and he is what sparked my interest,” said Bock. “If it wasn’t for him, I’d be going into the fall semester undecided.”

Mendenhall said, “I am confident of Kayla’s ability to succeed at the next level.”

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