If there was one thing more futile than trying to predict the weather during this "spring" softball season, it was watching St. Charles North opponents try to throw out Sabrina Rabin stealing second base.
Time and time again Rabin would get herself on base. Time and time again the pitcher would fire a nice high outside pitch to the next batter, an ideal pitch for the catcher to throw a runner out.
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And in 36 attempts trying to do that against Rabin, the speedy junior slid in safely 35 times, well ahead of even a perfect throw from the catcher and tag from the shortstop.
Even that one time Rabin was called out, she said she got to the bag before the tag. Perhaps any player would claim the same thing, but as sincere as Rabin is it's impossible to believe she's doing anything but telling the truth.
"I don't know, I think I was in there," Rabin said modestly.
As good as Rabin was on the basepaths, it's just a small part of the reason she's the 2013 Daily Herald All-Area Softball Captain.
Rabin hit .534. She walked 15 times for a .602 on-base percentage, and she scored 34 runs.
Also the No. 1 pitcher on the 22-6, Upstate Eight Conference River Division champion North Stars, Rabin went 18-4 with a 1.49 ERA and 121 strikeouts. She fired 6 shutouts.
As pleased as she was with her play and the North Stars' season, it ended earlier than anyone expected when South Elgin upset them in the regional championship game.
"Definitely the season as a team we played really well," Rabin said. "We definitely grew. It was a little disappointing that South Elgin game but they came out ready to play, and we couldn't get that one big hit. It was little disappointing but we have a very positive outlook for next year."
Having watched Rabin accomplish all those numbers on the field, her coach Tom Poulin had an even more positive impression with the intangibles Rabin brought.
"She was the pitcher of the year, hit over .500 leading off, if she got on she usually stole second and scored, and is a Big Ten center fielder, but more impressive than any of that is the type of person she is," Poulin said. "The high character leader, friend and teammate that is only being herself. She is very special."
Rabin said she learned many of those leadership qualities during her freshman season at St. Charles North. The lone freshman on a team filled with experienced seniors, Rabin watched players like Taylor and Sydney Russell, Amanda Ciran and Ashley Seering lead the North Stars to a runner-up finish in state.
"It was a very focused team and we had a lot of leaders," Rabin said. "They all knew they wanted to go downstate. That helped especially during practice. They were all supportive of me. I was kind of the little baby of the team. Just seeing how aggressive they are and how they worked as a team helped me a lot."
Rabin played in 25 games that season getting a couple starts in the outfield and second base while pitching six games and helping the team as a pinch-runner.
Her role quickly expanded as a sophomore when she won 10 games with a 2.20 ERA, and at the plate she hit .447 with 26 steals, 32 runs and 51 hits while sharing her experiences with her new teammates.
"I really try to bring what I learned how focused the seniors were and get these teams to be as focused and basically be the leader out there whether I'm pitching or hitting, getting the rally started, answer any questions," Rabin said. "We definitely have a lot of talent on the team. We just have to work together. That changed for me instead of following becoming more of a leader, which I like."
Poulin said Rabin makes his job easier with the way she both teaches and encourages her teammates.
"She is the ideal leader and captain, who also understands how to be a true teammate," Poulin said. "There is nothing that is fake with Sabrina. She is as sincere as it comes. Her dedication to being a student-athlete is as real as it gets. Whatever is important to her, she gives all she has toward that goal, or challenge. I am lucky to have had her in our program the last three seasons. She is an extension of the coaching staff and the perfect example of what a student-athlete is."
Rabin certainly is as much of a standout in the classroom as on the field. She is president of the Math and Spanish Honor Society, she's in the National Honor Society, and when she isn't playing softball there's a good chance she's involved in some kind of community service.
Headed to Northwestern on a softball scholarship, Rabin said she wants to become a doctor. It was Northwestern's excellent academic reputation that helped her decide last summer that's where she would play college softball after also visiting Loyola, Indiana, Iowa and Boston College.
"I had been going to NU camps since I was little and that was always a school I looked at because it's got great academics and it's a Big Ten school with a softball team," Rabin said. "I visited colleges before I made this decision. I loved the coaches and girls and there's a couple people I already know going so it was a clear choice for me. I was excited I was given that opportunity."
Rabin's mother played softball and tennis at Thornwood High School. Her older sister Sarah played softball for awhile, and her younger brother Erik, who just finished his freshman year, is a catcher for the St. Charles North baseball team.
While softball earned Rabin a Big Ten scholarship, ice skating was Rabin's first main sport. Born in Burr Ridge where she lived until fifth grade, Rabin dabbled in soccer and Tee-ball but as a youngster spent most her time in the rink until devoting herself full time to softball with the Wasco Diamonds.
"It (ice skating) was actually really fun," Rabin said. "That's probably why I have such big leg muscles today. I think that really helped. I loved that, I just decided I loved softball a little more and each one would take up a lot of time."
Ice skating and softball aren't the only sports Rabin has had success with. This winter she decided to go out for the St. Charles North track and field team, and she stayed on the team through the indoor UEC meet.
At that meet Rabin finished second in the 55-meter dash and fourth in the 200, showing her speed on the softball field would be just as lethal in a track meet if she chose that sport.
"I just really wanted to try it out," Rabin said. "I thought it was a lot of fun and helped me get in shape in the offseason because I was working with the track team the whole time. And it showed in my baserunning this year because I had a lot more stolen bases than last year. I really liked the track team too, they have awesome coaches too. It was fun."
That's a word Rabin uses a lot too talking about softball, whether stealing bases or playing defense.
Area fans don't get to see much of Rabin in center field because she's busy pitching for the North Stars, but you can imagine with that elite speed why she was such a sought-after outfielder at the major college level.
"For high school I like pitching because I do like being the leader and having a little bit of control but I love center field," Rabin said. "I love being aggressive diving for the ball, being aggressive tracking the ball down, robbing people of hits. That's what I love about it.
"And I love running the basepaths and keeping the defense on their toes. I like doing that."
No doubt, there's a lot to like about Rabin's game, and -- as her coach says -- there's even more to like about Rabin as a teammate, leader, student-athlete and person.