There’s really nothing that can be done to stop her. She’s just too fast.
Senior shortstop Meghan Rud set the South Forsyth single season school record for steals with 43 last year and broke the career steal record as a junior with 87. She’s even been clocked running 60 feet, the amount of space between bases, in 2.6 seconds.
"Anytime you can have a player of her caliber," South head coach Ronnie Davis said, "in which most coaches…are going to not let one kid beat you on the team; she’s that kind of kid.
"She’s a unique player in the sense that she has some tools a lot of other teams don’t have, and that basic thing is speed. In the game of softball, if you have a lot of speed, you can put a lot of pressure on opposing teams. …That’s just an element that’s harder to defend."
The obvious key to stopping Rud on the base path is not allowing her to reach first base, but teams have fallen short of that task. Last season she boasted a .623 OBP with 16 RBIs and drew 22 walks, good enough to be named the all-county player of the year.
She has continued to improve this season and is on pace to break her own record. Rud has 25 steals and has only been caught once, giving her a career total of 112 steals, something she credits to hard work.
"I’ve always been pretty fast," Rud said. "[But], I think it’s my preparation and my speed and agility training. …I got to Atlanta Fitness and they have a trainer who works with me. I do ladders and hurdles and sprinting, just basic speed drills."
Her agility between bases has created nightmares for region opponents. In a late August matchup against Lambert, Rud drew an intentional seventh inning two-out walk before stealing second, her fourth stolen base of the day. The next South batter hit the ball up the middle, allowing Rud to easily reach home and win the game.
"She runs well," West head coach Justin Rickett said, "I know that. She’s somebody you’ve got to be careful with. We had a game where we played them earlier in the year where we pitched around, pitched around, pitched around until we got her to roll over a ground ball. She’s definitely somebody in [South’s] lineup that you have to pay special attention to."
Davis and Rud have such an understanding with one another that it’s sometimes unnecessary for the steal sign to be given.
"We just have a certain demeanor toward one another. I look [at her] and it’s on. But, there’s sometimes where we get in games…if we’re up 20-0 and she gets on base, we put the brakes on her a little bit to have respect for [the] opponent and the game."
Rud’s ability to steal a base when opponents know it’s coming might set her apart from other base stealers.
"I have confidence in stealing pretty much on any pitch," she said. "Sometimes if I’ve gone, I’ve stolen first pitch twice in a row and I know they know I’m going, but coach makes me go."