Abby Rickermann

Festus senior Abby Rickermann holds the school record for career stolen bases and has opted to attend Southeast Missouri State University next year.

First, let’s dispel a rumor.

Abby Rickermann is playing basketball for Festus this winter.

Recently a rumor was swirling around the county that Rickermann was going to skip basketball to prepare to play college softball.

“My grandpa asked me the same thing. I don’t know how that got started,” Rickermann said of talk about her passing on basketball her senior year. “It’s the last time I’ll probably get to play basketball, so of course I’m going to play. I enjoy the sport. Basketball is a break from softball and gets me re-energized for softball.”

She likes country music, especially Luke Bryan and Luke Combs.

If you go to Villa Antonio Winery in Hillsboro, she might make your pizza or sandwich. She works there as a part-time cook.

During the summer, she likes to hit the pool and catch some rays.

Just about the rest of Rickermann’s time is spent competing. Whether it’s dazzling with her defensive play at shortstop for the Tigers, leading them in scoring on the basketball court like she did last season or sprinting on the school’s track and field team, Rickermann is always on the move.

Next fall she’ll be moving to Cape Girardeau to play softball at Southeast Missouri State University. Rickermann has given the Redhawks a verbal commitment.

After blistering the ball for a .545 batting average and setting a school record with 94 career stolen bases, Rickermann was selected to the Jefferson County Activities Association first team and Missouri High School Fastpitch Coaches Association Class 3 first team.

When the softball is hit in Rickermann’s direction at shortstop, she’s quick enough to move in either direction not only to field it, but also square herself and make an accurate throw to get the out. Playing basketball has helped with lateral movement. She’s dedicated herself more to lifting weights to add strength to her throwing arm.

“A quick release can make up time on your throws if you have a weak arm, so as I’m building my arm strength, I’m getting better at getting rid of the ball faster,” Rickermann said.

Festus head coach Jeff Montgomery said Rickermann’s consistency might be her best attribute.

“She’s athletic and she works hard,” Montgomery said. “She’s a rare breed in that sense. She expects a lot out of herself and this is her fourth year with us and I wish her nothing but the best.

“She has really quick glove-to-throw reaction. When she gets the ball, she gets rid of it really quick. She makes us so much better defensively and offensively. Her leadership has been there this year, which is great to see.”

Rickermann again is batting leadoff. The Tigers (0-2) allowed 28 runs in their first two games this season, but Rickermann has three hits, four stolen bases and scored four times.

“She tries to pick her spots where she wants to hit the ball,” Montgomery said. “She’s probably the best leadoff batter we’ve had in a long time.”

There’s not much Rickermann hasn’t accomplished individually in softball and basketball, but as a team, the Tigers haven’t won a district championship in either sport over her high school career. Despite being the No. 1 seed in the Class 4 District 3 basketball tournament and Class 3 District 2 softball playoffs, Festus was bounced in the first round by De Soto in softball and Rockwood Summit in basketball.

“Summit was a good ballclub. They were aggressive. They had height,” Rickermann said. “They had people who could shoot. They had a big post presence on the inside. It was different from what we were used to in Jefferson County.”

The softball setback was a different story, she said.

“That (De Soto) game was a rough game for us. I’m not making excuses because we could have done better, but it was super cold. The game didn’t start until 9 (p.m.) and I don’t think our hearts were truly in it. Ultimately, De Soto was out to get us. I think if we could have won our district, we would have had a shot at state.”

There’s a basketball hoop in the Rickermanns’ driveway that gets a lot of use. Abby’s dad, Mike, played basketball at Windsor and Iowa Wesleyan University. Her younger brother, Cole, is a sophomore at Festus. He is a backup quarterback on the football team and started basketball games at guard as a freshman for the Tigers last winter.

Abby said Cole has an unbelievable shot and routinely gets the best of her on their driveway.

“I’ll be honest, most of the time Cole wins when we play horse,” she said. “He’s very good at basketball. My level of passion for softball is the same as his for basketball. If there’s something wrong with his game, dad and Cole will go out there and fix it.”

Playing at SEMO will allow Rickermann’s family to attend home games.

“They’ve been at everything since I’ve been 4 years old,” she said of Mike and her mother, Melissa. “The thought of playing in college and them not being able to see me is heartbreaking. They’re the reason I’m where I’m at today because they always pushed me to be my best.”