Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
MINFORD — On and off the diamond, Andi Blevins is an absolute fighter.
Minford’s senior catcher has experienced setback after setback during her four-year softball career. But she’s never let any of them deter her from reaching her ultimate goal.
Last week, Blevins became a collegiate softball player after signing with the University of Rio Grande — something she questioned whether or not would ever happen at one point.
“Rio was the first official softball visit I went on and I fell in love with the campus. It was so homey,” Blevins said. “The fields, smaller campus, and people that I’ve grown up playing against … it just feels right.”
During her sophomore year, Blevins was forced to have her gallbladder removed. Then, she had her junior season cancelled because of COVID-19. And, this past fall, she underwent surgery for ulnar nerve decompression and carpal tunnel release.
Saying she’s been through the ringer would be a severe understatement.
But she’s continued to push herself to be the best she can be. She’s been able to do that because of the support system she’s created around her.
“Everyone has been so supportive throughout my entire career. My family and coaches are my biggest supporters,” Blevins said. “Through surgery my sophomore year and surgery this past fall, and a cancelled season, I began to doubt whether it was in the cards for me to play. But my family and friends pushed me through it all, and continue to as I finish the physical therapy process from my most recent procedures. All of my coaches have fought with and for me when I was struggling because of the setbacks I faced. I will forever be grateful for that.”
Before the remainder of the season was cancelled last spring, Rio Grande was 12-12. That was following a 2018-19 year where the RedStorm finished 36-16 and 17-1 in the River States Conference.
When Blevins gets new stitches, she’ll be joining a cast of players she’s familiar with. Those names include, but aren’t limited to, Wheelersburg grad Christen Risner, Oak Hill grad Caitlyn Brisker and Minford grad Zoe Doll.
“I’m excited to meet new teammates and grow new bonds. Softball is my social outlet. I’m more reserved in public sometimes, but when I’m on that field, no matter if it’s my team, my opponent, or if I’m filling in, I’m really me,” Blevins said. “I’m excited to continue the journey of doing what I love with others who love it just as much.”
But first, there’s business to attend to in Muletown.
The Falcons finished the 2019 season at 16-9 overall, ending their season with a district semifinal loss to Wheelersburg.
However, that group and this year’s team — like all baseball and softball programs in Ohio — look completely different.
Blevins will attempt to go from sophomore contributor to senior leader. But like anything else that’s stood in her way, she’s ready to face that challenge head on.
“My senior expectations are to build this season how we want to. We have four seniors, two juniors, and several underclassmen. So we’re young,” Blevins said. “But I don’t doubt that our work ethic will be anything less than one-hundred percent. I expect our offense to produce the extra help we’ll need while we figure things out and build a young defense. I expect a year of friendship and not only building physically, but mentally.”