Yale’s assistant softball coach, Barbara Reinalda, was inducted into the Connecticut Scholastic and Collegiate Softball Hall of Fame at a ceremony held at the Aqua Turf Club in Plainville, Conn. on Aug. 29.
The honor comes just two years after Reinalda was inducted into the National Softball Hall of Fame.
“Words can’t explain what she has meant to the game and what she will mean to the game,” said Yale head coach Andy Van Etten, who presented Reinalda with the honor. “As far as I’m concerned there are not enough accolades that can be bestowed upon her.”
Reinalda, a native of Bellflower, Calif., came to Connecticut in 1976 to pitch for the world renowned Brakettes of the Amateur Softball Association (ASA). She said she was immediately accepted by the Connecticut community and was especially honored that she was recognized for her contribution to Connecticut softball.
“People say ‘where are you from?,’ and sometimes I slip and say Connecticut,” Reinalda said. “There are not too many teams around the United States that have fans like [the Brakettes] do. They’re very loyal to the team, very loyal to the players.”
Reinalda, who graduated from Cal Poly Pomona in California, made an immediate impact on the Brakettes. A rookie on a team severely depleted by the formation of a new professional league, Reinalda hurled her way to the Brakettes’ 13th national title.
In addition to being outstanding on the mound, she led all hitters with a .429 batting average. She was named Most Valuable Player of the national tournament.
“My very first year with the Brakettes will probably be the year that I always remember,” Reinalda said. “All but two players were new to the organization and nobody expected us to win.”
During her 19-year career with the Brakettes, Reinalda racked up awe-inspiring statistics. She is the winningest pitcher in Brakettes history with a 441-31 record. In her last season alone, she compiled a 14-0 record and a 0.38 ERA. For her career, she pitched 19 perfect games and 31 no-hitters.
Reinalda retired from the Brakettes after the 1994 season. While coaching seemed like the logical next step, Reinalda was initially reluctant to make the switch from the mound to the dugout. After Van Etten became Yale’s coach in 1996, he approached Reinalda about signing on as his assistant.
“The first year, I turned him down and then he called me back the next year, and said ‘if you don’t try it, you’ll never know,'” Reinalda said. “So I did, and I love it.”
Reinalda is reluctant to talk about her successful career with her players, but she serves as an example for them and has a jovial relationship with the team.
“A lot of the times she seems more like our peer because she relates to us really well,” Jackie Crispell ’03 said. “She has so much experience, but she has a lighthearted way of relaying her experience to us.”
But Crispell adds that the team is well aware of Reinalda’s storied career.
“One year, one of the girls had a bunch of Sports Illustrateds that she saved from when she was a kid,” Crispell said. “She actually found an All-Star Barbara Reinalda card and she brought it in and had her sign it.”
Van Etten says Reinalda fits in well with the Yale program because her coaching style is similar to his.
“It looks like she’s the heir apparent to Yale softball,” Van Etten said.
The women’s softball team finished last year with a 22-22-1 record (5-9 Ivy).