By: Greg Levinsky
Late in fall 2017, Analisa Ruff traversed the Charles River by boat for the first time. As a walk-on to the Boston University crew team, Ruff tried something new.
A venture far from her softball background, it was her crew career that gave way to Ruff return to the game she’s so passionate about playing. She’s now a senior on the softball team, but less than 18 months ago she was rowing for the first time.
“I never thought I would be rowing a boat on a river for a sport,” Ruff said. “I had never rowed before and it was really fun.”
It was what she intended on doing, trying new things after spending her first two years of college playing softball at Chapman University in Orange, Calif. When she came to BU, she was at an athletics crossroads.
“I had every intention to play softball, but a little part of me wondered what it would be like not to be a college athlete, and to have more free time to be more social and try out other things besides sports,” Ruff said.
She emailed BU softball head coach Ashley Waters with some footage of her play, but decided not to play, at least not right away.
As her first semester on the east coast commenced, Ruff felt a bit socially disconnected. The Saratoga, Calif. native missed the sport she played all throughout her life. It wasn’t just for the value of the game itself, but the camaraderie that comes with it as well.
“I would see softball girls around, and I really missed playing because it’s like my sport,” Ruff sad. “It’s my thing, my pride, my joy.”
But instead, she tried rowing.
“Two weeks into my first semester here, so fall 2017, I was wicked bored and I missed being on a team, especially with having that solid group of friends,” Ruff said. “Especially as a transfer, it was tough to make friends right off the bat.”
Ruff tried out and made the crew team.
She returned to BU for the spring 2018 semester as a rower, but ultimately decided to switch sports. Her passion for the game of softball too strong to resist, Ruff called Waters and was invited to try out just a day or two later. After an eight month softball hiatus, Ruff spent a few short days training in the bubble at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Ultimately, Ruff made the BU softball team.
“Softball has always been a part of my life, and so not having it was really difficult for me,” Ruff said. “Having a coach that was so welcome to having me walk-on after having not spoken to her for like eight months was really cool.”
“You could just recognize, in terms of the person she is, she had great character and the girls took to her right away,” Waters said. “I knew she could fit in terms of her personality, and the next part of that was ability wise.
“We were excited that she had the capabilities that she did.”
The 21-year-old Ruff made 15 appearances in her first year with the team, collecting a single in her only start of the year last spring. She’s always catching bullpens and getting in defensive work at multiple positions, a true utility player.
“It’s one of those pieces that just worked out, but I really couldn’t see our team without her now,” Waters said.
Ruff played in three of BU’s five games in the opening weekend of 2019.
After transferring into Boston University and spending just over two semesters with the team heading into her senior season, Ruff is fully comfortable as a member of the BU softball team.
“BUSB is a family,” Ruff said. “No one is ever left behind.”
Greg Levinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GregLevinsky