It was no surprise that Robert Cid’s daughter, Rachel, fell in love with softball.
The whole family played. Rachel’s aunts, cousins, both of her parents and her older sister, Alexis, played either baseball or softball throughout high school and at junior college levels.
“Before T-ball, we let her play a couple different sports, but she just always went back to the bat and loved hitting the ball off the tee,” Robert said. “She always had a good swing.”
With her dad as one of her biggest supporters, Rachel pursued the sport through rec and club teams. And now, at Oregon, she is off to an impressive start in her freshman season as the team’s third baseman.
“She’s been looking forward to this so much that when she’s out there now, she doesn’t look like my little girl anymore,” Robert said. “This is what she’s striven for for six to seven years now, and now she’s on the big stage.”
Robert coached Rachel for six years on rec teams in their hometown of Tracy, California. If they weren’t out on the field, they were in their garage or on the front lawn practicing grounders and swings.
“He’s one of the reasons why I am where I am today,” she said. “He cares a lot, pushes me hard and that’s how I’ve become the player that I am.”
To Rachel, her dad was not only a coach but also a part of her pre-game ritual.
Starting when she was 10 years old, and playing as a pitcher, Robert always gave her a good-luck high-five when he brought her the game ball.
The high-five turned into a three-step handshake as Rachel became a shortstop and third baseman. Prior to every game and every at-bat, the two would conduct their signature handshake: an open-hand slap five, then a backside slap five with a fist-bump finish.
“That’s something that I think will always stick with us,” Robert said. “It means a lot. It’s kind of like our little bond that we’ve always had together.”
Since becoming a Duck, she developed substitute superstitions in place of the handshake, like eating Gatorade chews before the game and rubbing her hands in dirt before at-bats.
“If I rub my hand in the dirt or something, and I do good, I’ll just feel like that’s why,” Rachel said.
The superstitions might be working.
Rachel, Oregon’s starting third baseman, earned the season’s first Pac-12 Freshman of the week honors after playing in the Kajikawa Classic in early February.
As of publication, she is tied for first on the Ducks, with three home runs and 14 RBIs. She is tied for second on the team in runs (14) and hits (16).
“I think we have one of the best third basemen and one of the best hitters in the country with Rachel Cid,” catcher Shaye Bowden said. “I know that I am proud to play behind her, and I know our pitchers love playing behind her.”
Follow Maggie Vanoni on Twitter: @maggie_vanoni