Martin freshman Jenna Rude is off to a strong start to her career, similar to that of another certain Lady Warriors freshman phenom from three seasons ago.
That young upstart in 2012 was Jenna’s older sister, Krista Rude. Now, the older sister is a star senior whose .685 batting average is among the tops in the entire Fort Worth area. Together, the Rude sisters are helping Martin plow through District 4-6A. The Lady Warriors moved to 7-0 in district following a 12-2 triumph against Bowie on April 10.
“I love it,” Krista said. “Honestly, I haven’t played with her in forever. We have the same birthday [three years apart], so we used to be able to play on the same team when we were younger. But the older you get, the harder it is to get to do that. So this is the only year to play with her.”
The Rude sisters each played a key role April 8 in helping Martin hold off Weatherford 2-1 at the Workman softball complex in Arlington. Krista drew an intentional walk late in the game while younger sister Jenna made a tricky shoestring catch in left field to prevent a Weatherford rally. Jenna also drove in the first Lady Warriors run on a ground ball down the third base line.
“That’s how [Jenna’s] sister was,” Martin coach Cathy Rudy said. “Her sister started her freshman year and was a big part of our team. Even tonight, you saw they intentionally walked [Krista]. … Jenna came in and has done a great job.”
Rudy instructed the younger Rude to be prepared to pitch if called upon. Jenna, the starting left fielder, hadn’t taken the mound in a softball game for three years but was open to the idea. The first-year varsity player has now pitched in several games for Martin and fared well in those appearances.
“The thing about her is she’s willing to be wherever I need her to be,” Rudy said.
Krista, who next season will play college softball at the University of Texas at Arlington, considers this Martin team one big family. The strong on-field chemistry, she said, is a necessary attribute for a team that lacks some of the big hitters that led the 2014 Lady Warriors squad. This season’s team can still hit, however. Krista is one of the top area players in batting average and runs batted in, as is teammate Olivia Reams.
“There are times when we don’t get along well,” Krista said. “But when we get out here, we’re all a family. We all get along and we forget everything.”
But no two Martin players have better on-field chemistry than the Rude sisters. “They’re all about each other,” Rudy said. “It’s a fun relationship. It helps the team, too, because they’ve got such a great bond together.”
Krista, the center fielder, and Jenna play side by side in the outfield. When out there, they often make strange gestures that are an inside joke shared only between the siblings. “They don’t know what we’re doing and we have to explain,” Jenna said of their teammates. “We just crack everybody up.”
The sisters crack each other up, too. “They are the most fun sisters to coach because they joke around with each other all the time,” Rudy said.
But there was one time — and only one time — when Rudy recalls a little tension between the siblings. “I remember one time I asked Krista a question and she goes, ‘We’re not speaking,’” Rudy said. ‘I said, ‘You’re not speaking?’ [Krista] said, ‘Well, [Jenna] tried to tell me something, and I couldn’t hear her so I asked her three times what she said.’ And [Jenna] finally said, ‘If you can’t hear me, I’m not repeating it, and I’m not talking the rest of the day.’ That’s the one time I’ve heard them get in a fight.”
When the sisters are communicating, they’re fighting for a common cause. Jenna spent years cheering on her older sister and her friends as they led the Martin softball program to great heights. “I came to every game to show support,” the younger Rude said.
Now, Jenna is enjoying playing a key part in the winning effort. “I really like it because there’s a few other girls that have played with Krista ever since they were younger so I’m really close with all of them,” Jenna said.