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
    • Prewitt, Golson Among Standouts at Pro Day

      Thursday, March 5, 2015 - Football

      The Manning Center played host to 16 former Ole Miss players, including NFL Scouting Combine participants Cody Prewitt and Senquez Golson, attempting to make a lasting impact on the 27 NFL teams represented at Pro Day on Thursday. Prewitt, a... read more

    • Golson, Prewitt Headline Pro Day Participants

      Wednesday, March 4, 2015 - Football

      NFL Scouting Combine participants Senquez Golson and Cody Prewitt are among 18 former Ole Miss players expected to go through Pro Day workouts in hopes of realizing their professional football dreams. More than 25 representatives from 22 different teams were... read more

    • Both Sides of Ole Miss and the NCAA Tournament Discussion

      Wednesday, March 4, 2015 - Women's Basketball

      The Ole Miss women's basketball team heads to the 2015 SEC Tournament in Little Rock, Arkansas, having won three of its last four games to finish the regular season with a 17-12 overall and 7-9 SEC record and earn the... read more

    • Johnson Embraces New Role, New Challenges

      Wednesday, March 4, 2015 - Football

      Ole Miss welcomes back seven starters from the nation's No. 1 scoring defense, but two of those starters, seniors C.J. Johnson and Mike Hilton, will be starting the spring at different positions, with Johnson at Mike linebacker and Hilton at... read more

    • Quarterback Competition Begins in Earnest

      Tuesday, March 3, 2015 - Football

      Ole Miss began spring practice Tuesday, and for the first time under head coach Hugh Freeze, the Rebels will have a starting quarterback not named Bo Wallace. With the graduation of Wallace, sophomores Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade, as well... read more

    • Freeze, Rebels at SEC Media Days on July 16

      Tuesday, March 3, 2015 - Football

      The Southeastern Conference announced today Kickoff '15, its annual football media days, will be held July 13-16, remaining at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham - Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala. The event will continue to be four days in 2015. The... read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Feb. 24-March 2, 2015)

      Monday, March 2, 2015 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewFeb. 24-March 2, 2015Track & Field - Ole Miss got SEC titles from Jalen Miller (60m), Daniel Bulmer (mile) and the distance medley relay, and the Rebels achieved their best SEC indoor finish since 1984.... read more

    • Observations from the Best Seat in the House -- March 1

      Sunday, March 1, 2015 - Athletics

      The calendar turned to March, as the men's and women's basketball teams march toward the SEC Tournament and postseason play. The baseball team faced perhaps its biggest challenge of nonconference play. The softball and men's tennis teams each had another... read more

    • Rebels Look to Add to NCAA Tournament Case

      Sunday, March 1, 2015 - Women's Basketball

      The numbers and bracket projections may not be in his favor at this point, but head women's basketball coach Matt Insell is selling the NCAA Tournament selection committee on his team passing the eye test, as Ole Miss enters its... read more

    • Kennedy, Rebels Look to Flush LSU Loss

      Saturday, February 28, 2015 - Men's Basketball

      BATON ROUGE, La. -- With an opportunity to perhaps lock itself into the NCAA Tournament, or at the very least enhance its resume, Ole Miss lost back-to-back games for the first time all season, falling on the road at LSU... read more

    • Rebels Look to Enhance NCAA Tournament Resume

      Saturday, February 28, 2015 - Men's Basketball

      Despite the most recent home loss to Georgia on Wednesday night, Ole Miss remains a team projected to be solidly in the field, as the Rebels put their school record four-game SEC road winning streak on the line when they... read more

    • PHOTOS: Ole Miss Snow Day 2015

      Wednesday, February 25, 2015 - Athletics

      Here's a collection of snow days photos from Ole Miss Athletics Photographer Josh McCoy (@OleMissPix):The Pavillion at Ole Miss in winter! #SnowDay2015 #WAOM @OleMissSports @OleMissMBB @OleMissWBB pic.twitter.com/nHyhVPlDvG-- OleMissPix (@OleMissPix) February 25, 2015 Awweeee.... #SnowDay2015 #WAOM @OleMissSports @OleMissFB pic.twitter.com/R1BDZ0shvS-- OleMissPix (@OleMissPix)... read more

    • VIDEO: The Flagship Football Promo

      Wednesday, February 25, 2015 - Football

      read more

    • Rebels Ready for Rematch with Georgia

      Wednesday, February 25, 2015 - Men's Basketball

      If recent history is any indication, Ole Miss and Georgia are likely to go down to the wire on Wednesday night. Four of the last five meetings over the last three seasons have been decided by five points or less,... read more

    • VIDEO: The Pavilion Time Lapse

      Tuesday, February 24, 2015 - Men's Basketball

      read more