PG Athletes of the Week: Justice Rawlins and Claire Oberdorf


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Justice Rawlins, Monessen

Last week: Rawlins pitched a no-hitter against Clairton for the Greyhounds baseball team.

Check this out: Rawlins is a 6-foot-1, 230-pound senior with a 3-1 record and four home runs for Monessen, which is fighting for a WPIAL Class A playoff spot. In the days when high school athletes specialize in one sport, Rawlins is a throwback … and then some. The past two years, he has played four sports at Monessen — football and soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring. He has been a starter in all four.

College talk: Rawlins will attend California University of Pennsylvania. He originally signed to play football, but the Vulcans now want him for baseball, too. Rawlins said he will play both sports.

•Isn’t this your first full season of baseball since your freshman year? I missed my sophomore year with a knee injury and some of last year with mono. I feel I’m showing people what I can do. For a while, I was among the leaders in the WPIAL in home runs. I think a lot of people realize now that I can play baseball, too.

•Never mind your best sport or your future sport, what do you have the most fun playing? I had the most fun in my life playing soccer. I loved it. I was like a throw-in specialist. I could have 60-yard throw-ins. I just loved the fact, too, I was bigger than everyone else and everyone was scared to take the ball off me.

•Can you really play two sports at Cal? I wouldn’t see myself doing it any other way. People thought I couldn’t play football and soccer in the same season. With my motivation, I feel like I can do it.

•Statistics show that not as many African-American kids play baseball now. Why? Honestly, if you look at hockey, people say that’s a white person’s sport. I feel like a lot of kids feel the same with baseball. They see basketball and football, and think those are the only sports [African-Americans] can excel.

•Who do people say you look like? Blake Griffin [of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers].

Claire Oberdorf, Greensburg Salem

Last week: Oberdorf homered for the fifth consecutive game in last Wednesday’s 11-1 win against Laurel Highlands.

Check this out: Oberdorf, a junior shortstop, has hit six home runs for top-ranked and defending WPIAL Class AAA champion Greensburg Salem (8-1). The team’s leadoff hitter, Oberdorf is batting .666 with 14 RBIs and eight stolen bases. She hit seven home runs her sophomore season. Oberdorf is a two-time all-section honoree in softball and basketball, in which she averaged 13.5 points per game last season. Her older sister, Jayne, was a star pitcher at Greensburg Salem and is now a freshman at Marist College. Claire will join Jayne in two years, as she has already given a verbal commitment to the Division I school in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

•Have you always been a home run hitter? No. I never thought of myself as a home run hitter until high school. My freshman year I only had two and they barely got over the fence. It seems like last year I had more power.

•What do you like most about batting leadoff? I just like being able to get the most at-bats. It’s the first at-bat so there’s no pressure. I’m just trying to get on base any way I can.

•Do you and your teammates like being in the favorite role? We just go out and play. We don’t really think about that stuff. We try not to let it get in our heads and just go out and play our best.

•What’s it like not having your sister around this year? It’s different, but we all get along. Melissa [Wagner], our pitcher now, is doing great. I miss [Jayne], but I’ll be playing with her soon anyway.

•Do you have more chores to do at home since she’s gone? (Laughs) Yeah, I actually have to do more with the dogs, like taking them for walks and stuff. But it’s no big deal.

•One thing you’re hoping to do this summer? Besides play softball, just hanging out with my friends and going to the beach. And maybe a trip to Montana. We’ll see about that.


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