• TRA senior Charli Rice signs a softball scholarship with Union University as her parents, David and Christa Rice, look on. Photo by Jeff Ireland

There have been some very impressive Tipton-Rosemark Academy softball players over the years who pitched and hit at the highest levels, including Rachel Whitley, Roxeanna Kimes and Lyndsey Sterling.

When TRA senior Charli Rice, who signed a softball scholarship with Union University Wednesday afternoon, transferred to Rosemark in the middle of her seventh-grade year, she never dreamed she would be included in that illustrious group.

“I would have thought you were crazy,” Rice said Wednesday when asked if somebody told her in the seventh grade she would become ranked among the top five in several TRA statistical softball categories. “I never would have thought I could achieve half the stuff I have. The opportunity has been surreal and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

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“She’s right there with all of them,” TRA softball coach Johnie Sanfratello said. “When she threw the first pitch (in a tryout) I said, ‘Absolutely, I think she made the team.'”

Rice took a visit to TRA in the seventh grade during the Christmas break. After that she planned to enroll the following fall. Upon hearing from one of his players about her pitching prowess, Sanfratello informed her she could enroll immediately. Rice did just that, joining the varsity team as an eighth-grader, and the rest is history.

As a pitcher, despite most of the 2020 season being cancelled because of Covid, Rice ranks among the top five TRA pitchers in appearances (95), ERA (1.52), wins (57), innings pitched (460), strikeouts (623) and winning percentage (.750).

Rice is also one of the programs’s top hitters, ranking in the top five in doubles (26), RBIs (93), slugging (.484) and on-base percentage (.401) while striking out just 30 times in 357 at-bats.

With most of the 2021 season still to go, she’s already been a part of 144 TRA wins, which ranks first all-time.

Rice made a verbal commitment to Union in December of 2019 and never wavered.

“When I visited the campus it was just a lot like home, a lot like Rosemark in the sense that it’s small and a lot like a family,” Rice said. “Also I like that it’s Christian-based and I want to have that foundation.”