HUNTINGTON - Rachel Folden once sent softballs over the outfield fence. Now she's sending softball players to college.
The former Thundering Herd star, regarded by many as the greatest player in program history, was inducted into the Marshall Athletics Hall of Fame Friday and honored on the field at Joan C. Edwards Stadium before MU's 33-31 football victory over Ohio on Saturday. Folden remains heavily involved with the game, operating Folden Fastpitch, a northwest Indiana company that uses advanced analysis and techniques to help players develop their skills.
More than 20 of her clients have earned college scholarships in recent years.
"We offer extremely progressive baseball and softball instruction based on biomechanics, science, technology and data," Folden said.
Notice she said "baseball." Folden doesn't limit herself to softball instruction, working with girls and boys to improve their swings.
"We partner with Elite Baseball," Folden said. "We work with college baseball, college softball and pro baseball."
Folden knows of what she speaks. A four-time All-American catcher at Marshall, the native of Baldwin Park, California, owns 15 of the program's single-season or career records 11 years after she graduated. A first-team All Mid-American Conference pick in 2005 when she was named the league's freshman of the year, Folden helped the Thundering Herd to the MAC regular season title.
Folden was Conference USA's Player of the Year as a sophomore and again in 2008. She was a first-team All C-USA pick as a sophomore and repeated on the first team in 2007 and 2008.
An academic standout as well, Folden said she is fascinated with new, analytical approaches to the game. One of her favorite sayings is, "Don't bunt; hit dingers."
Maybe that's why Folden is a big fan of Marshall coach Megan Smith, whose team smashed 79 home runs last season, 30 more than any other team in Conference USA. The Herd finished 42-22 overall and 17-7 in C-USA.
"I like Megan," Folden said. "She's doing a great job."
Folden also is a big fan of her college coach, Shonda Stanton, now head coach at Indiana University.
"Shonda lives closer to me now," Folden said. "I love that."
The youngest inductee in the 2019 class, Folden was pleased to enter the hall with Nichole Corrigan, a standout before her.
"I'm really, really excited to be inducted with another softball player," Folden said of Corrigan.
Ohter inductees included John Brannen, men's basketball (1995-97); Tom Kuempel, baseball (1995-98); Milla Kuurto, women's swimming and diving (2002-06), Giradie Mercer, football (1996-99); Hugh Reynolds, baseball (1958-60), Mark Sheridan, men's swimming and diving (1977-81); Jamie Wilson, football (1993-96); Max Yates, football (1998-2001).