Senior Spotlight: Hartselle’s Andrew Rittman
Andrew Rittman is a senior pitcher for the Hartselle Tigers. He said he grew up wanting to play for the Tigers after he saw them win the 2013 state championship.
Rittman was primarily a reliever during his career, but he said the one memory that stands out for him was when he was called on to start a game. With just a few minutes notice, he pitched three strong innings and led the Tigers to victory over Rogers, an Arkansas team, in a tournament in Tennessee.
For Rittman as for all high school baseball athletes, the season was cut short because of the spread of the coronavirus.
He is no stranger to losing a season, as an ACL tear ended his freshman season.
The AHSAA moved to cancel the spring sports season March 27 after Gov. Kay Ivey announced March 26 that schools would be canceled for the remainder of the school year.
Here Rittman shares about his baseball career and the disappointment he has experienced with the cancellation of his season.
Q: When did you get started playing baseball?
A: I started playing baseball in the Dixie Youth baseball league at 5.
Q: When did you know you wanted to play for the Tigers?
A: I would go to high school games when I was little with my brother and dad. After the 2013 championship game, I knew I wanted to be a Hartselle Tiger. The team played so well together and had fun. I knew when I grew up I wanted to play on the big field with the wall.
Q: What was it like waiting for your moment to come?
A: I tore my ACL very early in my freshman year and knew it would be a long road back to get playing time. Especially with pitching – there is one pitcher on the field at a time, so playing time is hard to come by. By my junior year, I was more of a middle relief guy. Later that year, we were playing in Collierville, Tenn., against Rogers (Arkansas). I was not a starter and did not plan to pitch that day, and 10 minutes before the start, Coach Booth told me I would be starting that game. I couldn’t describe the complete utter joy I had at that moment. I went three innings with six strikeouts and three earned runs. We won 13-3. This season I only got to close two games – Russellville and Bob Jones.
Q: What were your thoughts when you got the news that your season was over, long before you had planned?
A: We took the coronavirus as a joke at first, thinking it wouldn’t affect our season at all. When we started hearing rumors about the season being canceled at our third Bob Jones game, it started to set in that this could be it. We went into the Saturday games with a mentality of not taking it for granted. Everybody got to play in those games. Then, on Monday, Coach Booth called a meeting, and we talked, and he hoped it would be postponed because there was something special about that team. We were told to clean our lockers out for cleaning, but we all had a feeling he knew what was about to happen. Our last time as a team was in that locker room. It was our last time coming to 6:15 workouts and hitting. The last time having FCA meetings and my last time praying over the boys before they took the field. This was my last time buttoning the No. 12 jersey. It hit home when we knew we couldn’t make one last run for the ring.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: I plan to go to college at Calhoun and work through the F.A.M.E program in industrial maintenance.