Cantillo Makes A Difference With Softball

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM RT Cantillo
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
RT Cantillo
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM

April 17, 2014

By Austin Miller, OleMissSports.com

OXFORD, Miss. — March 31 was a big day for RT Cantillo. It was the day of the Rebels’ Choice Awards and the 2014 National Pro Fastpitch College Draft, which both started at 7 p.m. CT.

Her older sister, Chelsea, who played softball at Georgia, called her about five minutes before the draft and told her she would be following the draft and let her know.

Pick after pick passed, and after 11 picks had been made Cantillo turned her phone over and her attention toward the program, resigned to the fact she was not going to get picked.

And then, with 19 of the 20 total picks in the books, she had five new messages from her older sister, the last one informing her she was selected by the Chicago Bandits with the 20th and final pick of the draft

“I couldn’t really say anything because Rebels’ Choice Awards was going on, so I was just sitting in my chair excited,” Cantillo said. “I tapped by best friend next to me and said, ‘Be happy with me because I can’t right now.’ I couldn’t really celebrate as much.”

“We knew there was an interest, but you never know,” Ole Miss head coach Windy Thees said. “With only 20 softball players across the country getting drafted, it’s really tough to determine who is going to get picked by these teams. We definitely knew she was talented enough and we knew that she would be an asset to any team who chose her.”

Cantillo, who ranks in the top 10 in school history in 12 different statistical categories, including first in on-base percentage (.484), second in batting average (.362) and third in runs (121), will leave as one of the most accomplished players in Ole Miss history.

“There have been so many memories, just thinking about it,” Cantillo said. “It all starts with when I was 4-years-old hitting off a tee with a helmet that was too big for me, and it just kind of built from there. It’s a bittersweet thing. I’m getting my college degree, but at the same time, I’m going to start a new chapter, meaning I have to leave. I have made so many friends here at Ole Miss. It was my dream come true.”

“She’s been roaming center field every year for four years,” Thees said. “There will be something a little bit different when you look out and don’t see RT Cantillo in center field for Ole Miss softball. That’s going to be strange. She has left a mark that will last for decades. It’s not just the stats that she has put up, but she shows up and she wants to win and she works hard every game to be the best athlete she can be.”

The Santa Ana, Calif., native remembers when she thought she would never leave her home state, and when she was in high school just trying to get to college.

Now, she’s less than a month away from the first day of practice with her pro team on May 15 and the season opener two weeks later on May 29. The new chapter for Cantillo also includes a coaching position at a Division I school, where she will pursue a master’s degree in sports administration.

“I’m looking to have fun and constantly be learning new things,” Cantillo said. “It’s going to be the same concept but maybe a different way to do it or a different way to explain it because I want to coach and have my own organization when I’m older. If anything, I’m expecting to learn new coaching styles or a different way to go about changing something, or even how to communicate with kids.”

Since the summer after her sophomore year, when she worked at Georgia’s softball camp, she has wanted to coach younger kids, and she wanted to do it where the sport is not as developed. Both playing professionally and coaching collegiately, Cantillo said, help her in this goal.

“Even when I was in a slump, or had the worst possible day, whether it was softball or otherwise, whenever I would go over and coach these kids, it was like falling in love with the sport all over again,” said Cantillo of coaching younger kids out of Hernando, Miss. “It reminds you of why you started playing, so I would love to coach little kids.”

For Cantillo, it has been a dream come true, from Ole Miss, to the start of her professional career, to the start of her coaching career, as she continues to give back to the sport that has given her so much.

“It’s probably the best feeling ever,” Cantillo said. “I would talk about what I want to do with my roommates. When I met one of their friends, they introduced me as, ‘This is my roommate RT, and she wants to change the world with softball.’ I never realized that I sounded like that, but it means a lot to me because that’s what it’s done for me. It’s given me so many opportunities. It changed my life for the better, and that’s why I want to do so much with it.”

 

Austin Miller is a writer and blogger for OleMissSports.com. He joined the staff in June 2013 after serving as sports editor of the Daily Mississippian. Follow him on Twitter @austinkmiller

Ole Miss Gear
    Facebook
    Twitter
    • Loading Tweets...
      1 second ago
    Blog
    • Volleyball Keeps NCAA Tournament Hopes Alive

      Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - Volleyball

      The goal from day one for head coach Steven McRoberts was to lead Ole Miss to its fourth NCAA Tournament appearance and its first since 2010.  Entering the team's final two matches, McRoberts said he felt as though they were... read more

    • The Season: Ole Miss Football Episode 12

      Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - Football

      The Season: Ole Miss Football - Episode 12 - Arkansas (2014) from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • Wommack, Rebels Prep for Prescott

      Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - Football

      Battling injury, junior quarterback Dak Prescott came off the bench and helped rally Mississippi State to a come-from-behind 17-10 win in last year's Egg Bowl. He led a drive that ended with the game-tying field goal at 10-10 and then... read more

    • Rebels Not Lacking Motivation in Rivalry Matchup

      Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - Football

      Head coach Hugh Freeze called the Egg Bowl the most prized possession of this university's football program, and getting the Egg Bowl back should be enough motivation for his team entering Saturday's game against Mississippi State.  An Independence, Mississippi, native,... read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Nov. 17-23, 2014)

      Monday, November 24, 2014 -

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewNov. 17-23, 2014Men's Basketball- Ole Miss posted a 2-0 mark last week with wins over Southern University and Northern Arizona as part of the Emerald Coast Classic, improving to 3-1 on the season.- Ole Miss... read more

    • Golson Named Finalist for Conerly Trophy

      Monday, November 24, 2014 - Football

      Senior cornerback Senquez Golson, one of five finalists for the Bronco Nagurski Award, which honors the national defensive player of the year, will represent Ole Miss as one of 10 finalists for the C Spire Conerly Trophy, which honors the... read more

    • Observations from the Best Seat in the House -- Nov. 23

      Sunday, November 23, 2014 - Athletics

      It's that busy time of the year with the Ole Miss football, volleyball, men's and women's basketball teams all in action. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week that was in Ole Miss sports:- A slow start (17-0... read more

    • Rebels Unable to Overcome Slow Start

      Saturday, November 22, 2014 - Football

      FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Arkansas jumped out to a 17-0 in the first quarter and took advantage of six Ole Miss turnovers on the way to a 30-0 shutout win Saturday in Fayetteville."I was concerned all week, for whatever reason, that... read more

    • Three and Out: Keys to Ole Miss-Arkansas

      Saturday, November 22, 2014 - Football

      Three areas to watch as No. 8 Ole Miss travels to Arkansas in its final road game of the regular season Saturday. Slowing the Hogs' Ground Attack The extra week of preparation, defensive coordinator Dave Wommack said, should prove beneficial... read more

    • Rebels Ahead of Schedule in Year Three

      Thursday, November 20, 2014 - Football

      It's sometimes easy to forget where the Ole Miss football program was just three short years ago, when Hugh Freeze was interviewing for the head coaching position. The Rebels had won just two games in 2011 and had lost 14... read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Nov. 10-16, 2014)

      Monday, November 17, 2014 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewNov. 10-16, 2014Women's Basketball- The Ole Miss women's basketball team opened up the 2014-15 season with two wins over the weekend. The Rebels took down Grambling 92-67 in the season opener on Friday and followed... read more

    • Observations from the Best Seat in the House -- Nov. 16

      Sunday, November 16, 2014 - Athletics

      The Ole Miss football team was off, but it was a busy week in Ole Miss athletics nevertheless, as the men's and women's basketball teams opened their respective seasons. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week that was:-... read more

    • Getting Healthy, Staying Sharp on the Bye Week

      Friday, November 14, 2014 - Football

      No. 10 Ole Miss was without several starters and regular contributors against Presbyterian, and many others were limited.  But given an extra week of rest, head coach Hugh Freeze said he expects everyone, with the exception of the players out... read more

    • The Season: Ole Miss Football Episode 11

      Wednesday, November 12, 2014 - Football

      The Season: Ole Miss Football - Episode 11 - Presbyterian (2014) from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Nov. 3-9, 2014)

      Monday, November 10, 2014 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewNov. 3-9, 2014Football- Ole Miss took a break from the rugged Southeastern Conference and earned a 48-0 shutout win over Presbyterian on Saturday.- It was the Rebels' first shutout since beating Tulane 39-0 in 2012.-... read more