POWHATAN – Whenever Rileigh De Weese steps up to the plate, she lets everything clear away.
The UCONN commit and Powhatan High School rising senior goes up, allows muscle memory to take over and plays the ball she knows how to play.
So she’s not thinking home run.
As a result, she hit quite a few of them in 2019.
Her powerful extra-base hits were a factor in a young Powhatan Softball team enjoying a winning season this spring with a final record of 15-6. While Powhatan graduated many seniors from its run to the state final in 2018, De Weese and her teammates grew together quickly this year and made it to the Region 4B semifinals – one game shy of qualifying for the Class 4 state tournament.
De Weese’s contributions to Powhatan Softball in 2019 earned her a coveted place on the Richmond Times-Dispatch All-Metro Team.
De Weese, whose Powhatan Indians compete in Class 4, called it a big honor, as she was named to the team alongside talented student-athletes from the larger Class 5 and Class 6 teams.
“There are a lot of great girls that I’ve played in Travel that have made that team,” she said. “It’s a real honor to make that.”
De Weese was also named to Second Team All-State on the Class 4 State Softball team.
While noting she doesn’t really think about making all-state while the season’s going on – as it comes up after the season – she said: “It’s a real honor; I’m really proud of making it– it’s really a good honor to do it again, and it means a lot that I’ve done it.”
De Weese’s experience with Travel Ball has been a boon to her play during the VHSL season. A lifetime player since she was 5 years old, De Weese first started playing Travel when she was 8 and joined a team in Northern Virginia when she was 13. That’s when she started to travel all over the country, experience a variety of different teams and work with so many different people – all of which has helped her throughout her high school seasons, and has gotten her to where she is today as an All-State and future Division I collegiate player.
She’s currently playing Travel for the Firecrackers in North Carolina.
De Weese’s varsity high school team, Powhatan Softball, places central emphasis on the concept of team. Before stepping up to bat, De Weese will ask her teammates what they’re looking for at the plate and what pitches they’re getting; she’ll incorporate their advice into her at-bats and then, after she either gets on base or gets out, she’ll share her advice with the players who come after her in the lineup and let them know the kinds of pitches she’s seeing, so that they know what they can expect when the pitcher starts throwing to them.
“It’s not just one – it’s the whole team that gets us to where we are,” De Weese said. “And I’ve learned that since freshman year from our seniors and the girls that I’ve been with, even until now…this whole team isn’t carried on one person’s back. It’s the whole team going together, and I think that will help me a lot in college.”
De Weese’s clutch hitting in the 2019 postseason – the go-ahead grand slam that helped Powhatan defeat Chancellor in the regional playoffs, as well as the two-run homer that enabled Powhatan to challenge eventual winner Hanover through the middle stages of the 4B regional semifinals – boils down to what she knows she needs to get…
“I need to get a hit up the middle or something to get that run through,” is De Weese’s focus at the plate. “I’m going up there to get that RBI – I’m not thinking about the big hit – I’m just trying to do something or get the team going…so the next player can know, ‘I can do it, too.’ That way we can get the team going and rolling.”
De Weese has shown through her play that she stays in the game, no matter the score. After she hit that two-run blast against Hanover, she let out a joyous outburst while rounding the bases. After she reached second base on an RBI double against Chancellor, she clapped and cheered even though her team was still trailing.
“I do it to pump the team up and let them know: Hey, you can do it too,” she said. “We can get rolling and we can get the runs going – we’re in the game.”
De Weese has learned that you’ve got to stay in the game - you’ve got to have fun and play the game fully.
“You’re not done,” she said. “You’re not done until that game’s done, and you can come back.”