Mooney’s Rinehart earns 400th career win
By Tom Williams
A five-run first inning gave Cardinal Mooney High School softball coach Mark Rinehart plenty of time to celebrate his latest milestone.
The Cardinals (4-0) defeated Western Reserve Academy, 16-2 in five innings Thursday at Fields of Dreams to deliver Rinehart his 400th career victory in 26 seasons. He’s 400-204 since becoming Mooney’s head coach in 1993.
“It’s a humbling milestone,” Rinehart said. “And I appreciate being healthy enough to be able to do it all those years and all the support from my assistant coaches, my players, the parents, the administration and my family
“All of those have played a big part.”
Winning pitcher Sydney Shugart (1-0) and Maddie Filisky combined to toss a two-hitter. Shugart struck out six and walked one.
Katie Perry tied a school record with three homers in the game. She also doubled to drive in seven runs.
Brooke Chandler had three hits while Gia DiFabio, Kelly Williams and Kayla Rutherford each had two.
Asked what it’s like playing for Rinehart, Cardinals junior Conchetta Rinaldi said, “I love it — he’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever had.
“He never ever stops pushing us, the Cardinals catcher said. “Not only in the classroom does he push us, but also on the field. He’s always just so encouraging.”
Rinehart teaches creative writing, honors English and a debate class.
“He’ll know if you’re having a bad day, like he’ll pick you up, he’ll tease you endlessly,” Rinaldi said. “When he steps on the field, he never gives up on us.”
Rinehart feels blessed he’s been able to coach for decades.
“I love practicing, I love the game,” Rinehart said. “There are ups and downs. I’ve had a lot of good parents, a lot of good administration support, a lot of good players. It’s just fun.”
Rinehart said his philosophy is to try and treat his players “as athletes” and hold them to high expectations.
“We hold them accountable, we push them,” Rinehart said. “At the end of the day almost every time for 26 years, they work hard and they give you your best.
“It’s rewarding, it’s fun.”
This spring, Mahoning Valley that didn’t go south for spring break are struggling to get games played.
“We’re not going to make excuses,” Rinehart said of the haphazard schedule Mother Nature has delivered. “If it’s one day, three days, 20 days, we’re going ... to play well and do everything we can to stay sharp.
“Sometimes you’re out here and it’s cold or you take some bad losses but it’s just so much fun working with the kids.”
Ashley Kerr hit a two-run single for the Pioneers.