Hilldale softball coach Darren Riddle is generally a man of few words. But when he talks about senior Riley Barnoski the compliments flow right out. “She is the ultimate competitor. If every kid played as hard as Riley, you’d have a team full of great players,” said Riddle. “She goes non-stop in practice and in games and doesn’t know the meaning of letting up. She is such a clutch player both defensively in the outfield or at third base or at the plate like in the state tournament last year against Cushing where she had two homers and a triple.”
Riley plays both softball and basketball for the Lady Hornets and while her future is on the diamond, she surprisingly says she enjoys playing basketball better. “There’s just less pressure playing basketball and it’s more fun for me whereas softball is a more serious pursuit that I want to play in college,” said Barnoski.
Over her years at Hilldale, Riley has played on Hilldale teams that have made three trips to the state tournament and she still remembers the first time they went. “My first trip to state was nerve-wracking but, in the end, state is always the best time of year and it was super fun.”
As a senior, Barnoski finds herself leading a pretty young group of players this year, but Riddle says she more than up to the task. “She’s a great leader for us by her example of hard work and, as a coach, that means more to me than someone who’s talking all the time.”
Riley plays summer ball as well and she feels that’s really helped her improve her hitting this year. “Summer ball is more competitive and you see better pitching and that helps you become a better hitter,” said Barnoski who says she enjoys playing center field more than the infield because it’s more fun to chase down fly balls.
As to the future, Riley has verbally committed to play college ball at Seminole State. “It’s not too far from home but just far enough and it’s a good introduction to college life,” said Barnoski who hopes to help guide her young team to yet another visit to the state tournament in her final softball season. As to her contributions in four years as a Lady Hornet, Darren Riddle pretty well sums it up. “I wish I had a whole team of Riley Barnoskis. I can’t say enough good things about her-she’s unbelievable.”