Oakland Christian’s Jablonski, Overcoming Odds

Rachel Jablonski has always had to face some adversity during her high school softball career. Now, that adversity has turned into benefits.

Jablonski, a recent graduate of Auburn Hills Oakland Christian, will still take her talents to another level, the Division I college level.

Jablonski, an infielder who has spent time at second base, shortstop and third base in her career, signed recently with Gardner-Webb in Boiling springs, N.C. The Runnin’ Bulldogs are members of the Big South Conference.

“I really wanted a chance to play. I spoke to some schools, but Gardner-Webb seemed like the right place,” said Jablonski, who is considering a degree in nursing. Jablonski had spoken with schools of various sizes, including Rochester College, St. Joseph (Ind.) and Oakland, among others. Gardner-Webb coach Tom Cole first received an inquiry on-line from Jablonski.

“I filled something out on line, and then I eventually sent in some video,” said Jablonski, who initiated the recruitment to the 2,000-student schools in the hills of North Carolina. “That’s how it all started. I really liked the campus and what they have to offer.”

Perhaps overlooked by D-I schools in the Midwest, perhaps G-W is receiving a steal.

For Jablonski, she is anything but big, as her stature lists her at 5-foot-4 and she attended a Class D high school. Still, her senior year she was still listed as a top-15 prospect in Oakland County and made first-team All-MIAC Blue Division, All-Area, All-District and All-Region. She was not found on the All-State list despite signing with a Division I college.

During her sophomore year, there were only seven softball players set to try out and after some ill-fated attempts of recruiting other athletes in the school who were not playing a spring sport, the school was forced to cancel softball for the 2008 season. She started the whole season at second base on the school’s varsity baseball program and was still one of the Lancers’ better players.

“That was an interesting experience,” recalled Jablonski. “At least I still had a chance to play. I played softball that summer with my travel team.”

Last year, the school brought softball  back but with little success in terms of win. The same for the 2010 season, where the Lancers had just a few players with any softball experience.

Oakland Christian finished well below the .500-mark overall and in the MIAC Blue Division this past spring. Still, Jablonski fielded at over a .900 clip from her shortstop position and batted .490 at the plate. She also led the Lancers in almost every offensive category.

Still, the talented Jablonski was a rock in the field and at the plate for Oakland Christian.

“Everything went through Rachel. She’s a great talent,” said Oakland Christian coach Ed Mehlberg. “She hits the ball well and she understands the game. Almost every play in the field, all of the cutoffs and relays, we tried to run through Rachel.  If we had an experienced team with a lot of talent, then Rachel would have been first-team all-state. She was ranked among the top players in the county in the preseason.”

Jeff Ludwig, who coaches Jablonski on the Oakland Lady A’s travel summer team, which recently finished fifth at the NSA Class B Nationals, knows what type of talent that Jablonski is and that she could very well thrive at the collegiate level.

“She’s a solid player. There’s no question about it,” said Ludwig, who is also the head coach at Rochester hills Lutheran Northwest, a longtime rival of Oakland Christian. “She does everything well. What hurt her (in the high school season) is she didn’t have as many at-bats as some of the other top players, which is why she didn’t make all-state. That wasn’t her fault. Why I know what type of player she is, the rest of the state did not.”

Jablonski played three sports in high school, including guard in basketball and a defensive specialist/libero in volleyball. Her volleyball team reached the Class D state semifinals this past fall. She played two years of varsity basketball and three years of varsity volleyball to finish with nine total varsity letters.Oakland Christian’s Jablonski ends up at Division I school

Now, she’s going to have a shot to concentrate in college on the sport that she adores: Softball.

“I liked volleyball and I played basketball because I could (at a small school),” said Jablonski. “But I really love softball. They think I might have a chance to play some (as a freshman), maybe second base. I will play wherever they put me. I just want to be out there playing.” READ MORE

Dan Stickradt

Senior Editor of North Oakland Sports