VESTAL (WBNG) – Four years ago in March, Jessica Rutherford was a senior at Horseheads High School wishing it would warm up so her Blue Raiders could play softball outside. Little did she know what her Bearcat future would hold. Binghamton’s new all-time hits leader, Jessica Rutherford, is 12 Sports’ Athlete of the Week.
"When Jess steps into the batter’s box, I think we’re all confident," said Binghamton softball head coach Michelle Johnston.
193 times Jessica Rutherford has stepped into the batter’s box for Binghamton University and delivered a hit.
"It’s great when you hit it and it goes off the bat and you just know," said Binghamton senior outfielder Jessica Rutherford.
Breaking the program’s all-time hits record.
"She deserves it," said Johnston. "She’s put in a lot of hard work and when Jess comes to practice, she’s ready to give it her all."
"It really showed me that hard work does pay off," said Rutherford. "You can do it."
A record previously held by her former teammate Sydney Harbaugh.
"It really means a lot to me personally that she was the one to be able to break it," said former Binghamton softball player (2013-16) Sydney Harbaugh. "I couldn’t have hand-picked somebody else. She deserves it."
"When (Sydney) was on the team, she was my biggest role model on the field," said Rutherford.
Now, Rutherford stands alone atop the BU record books.
"Her ability to be able to put down a bunt, hit for power and consistency," said Johnston. "She’s kind of able to do it all."
Must be all those high and inside pitches.
"Ever since I can remember, being a four-foot-tall little player trying to hit a ball over my head," said Rutherford. "It’s just been my pitch since day one."
Since day one, Rutherford has been a complete stud for the Bearcats. She’s a three-time all-conference honoree. Two-time all-region selection and the 2015 America East Rookie of the year, but don’t think she takes herself too seriously.
"She’s a goofball," said Harbaugh. "She’s fun-loving."
"She’s pretty goofy off the field." said Johnston.
She’s also an avid Pittsburgh Penguins fan.
"I’m usually watching NHL games, looking at stats," said Rutherford.
Her heart though, is with softball.
"I just remember always wanting it to be softball season," said Rutherford.
As Rutherford’s Bearcat career draws to a close, the new all-time hits leader has certainly made the most of her four years.
"Obviously, you know you’re not going to be playing softball forever," said Rutherford. "So, knowing that you have four years here, make the most of it. Make friends, teammates who are literally like family."
Rutherford told 12 Sports she has one more goal on her mind for her senior season: win the America East Championship and go on to regionals. The Bearcats will have home field advantage to try to do so as Binghamton hosts the AE softball championships this season.