Rams to Watch: Lucas Ribaudo and Mary Pankowski

Lucas Ribaudo

“I am just another guy on the team,” sophomore Lucas Ribaudo said. “We have many talented baseball players, but it’s our mental strength and collectivity that more so helps us succeed on the field.”

Ribaudo, as varsity baseball pitcher and second baseman has established himself as a rising leader in just two years on the team, playing a pivotal role and looking to finish the season stronger than last year, he said.

From the start of this season, Ribaudo’s skills were noticed, particularly after the opening game against Paint Branch High School March 25. Ribaudo pitched a complete game no-hitter with six strikeouts and one walk leading the Rams to win 2-0.

Despite being one of the team’s leaders, Ribaudo attributes the successes of the team to every player on the field, remaining humble by recognizing that baseball is a team sport.

Ribaudo has been surrounded by baseball his entire life, playing for local teams growing up and watching his brother Chris Ribaudo (‘18) as an all-county pitcher last season.

“I’ve always been a fan of baseball growing up,” Lucas Ribaudo said. “Since I was a kid, I’ve played on all sorts of teams, including my travel team the Olney Bucs.”

After winning the division last year, the varsity baseball team is looking to build on Ribaudo’s strengths this season and have another successful year.

“Overall he’s gotten stronger, bigger, and since the summer after playing a higher level of baseball, he’s gotten more experienced,” varsity baseball coach Farron Riggs said. “The sky’s the limit, and I can see him only improving from here on out.”

After being placed on the Montgomery County 2A/3A all-division second team his freshman year, Ribaudo is confident he and his teammates can push for an even better season.

“I think it’s last season that has motivated me so far this year,” Ribaudo said. “With how well we did, and how close we got, all I want is to push myself and my teammates to that same level and beyond.”

In 16 games this season, Ribaudo has established himself as the leading pitcher, as he’s pitched the most innings, 33.2, out of the whole team, as well as clocking in 31 strikeouts.

“Since Lucas’ freshman year he has gained a lot of velocity on his fastball and offspeed pitches,” senior catcher Manoli Athanasakis said. “He is able to control his pitches better, which can save the team a lot of outs.”

Though Ribaudo is only a sophomore, he still plays a big role on varsity, and not just as a pitcher. At 53 at-bats, Ribaudo has recorded 11 runs, and leads the team with 19 base hits and 16 RBIs on a .358 batting average.

Off the field, Ribaudo stays close with his teammates and enjoys just about everything involving sports. He stays motivated everyday to bring success to the team, while simultaneously striving to be the best student he can be in the classroom.

“I often feel crunched [to do school work] during the season, so it’s important for me to be careful in managing my time and to stay on top of it and not fall behind,” Ribaudo said.

Mary Pankowski

Junior Mary Pankowski enters her third year playing varsity softball for RHS as captain, leading the team on the field through her strong performance as a pitcher and at the same time modeling the importance of maintaining strong academics.

Pankowski was introduced to softball by her father when she was six years old and has been playing competitively ever since. As competition has grown more intense at the varsity level, as captain and a leader on the team Pankowski has made sure to also maintain a strong GPA.

“Mary is an excellent team player,” softball coach Matthew Quinn said. “She is one of our team captains and leads the team on and off the field; she also has one of the highest GPAs on the team and was our MVP last year.”

Prior to high school, Pankowski played for two travel softball teams. She started playing travel softball for the Olney Cougars and an Olney Boys and Girls Club (OBGC) house league when she was seven years old. She played for three years on both teams and then transitioned into playing for only the OBGC house league.

Pankowski has also been surrounded by the sport with her older brothers playing baseball at RHS, so it was natural for her to start playing.

“I started playing softball because my older brothers played travel baseball, and I thought it was awesome,” Pankowski said. “They would play baseball in our backyard with our neighbors too, and I would always join in.”

After middle school, she stopped playing softball outside of school so she could focus on her academics and varsity softball at RHS.

Pankowski has been on the varsity softball team since her freshman year and has played both pitcher and shortstop. This year is her first focusing solely on pitching and she has been pitching every game.

“Without a good pitcher like Mary, it would be hard to win games,” junior left fielder Kelly FitzGerald said.

Pankowski goes into every game with a positive mindset which her teammates notice and appreciate, they said.  

“Mary is able to be so accurate and precise because she goes into every game with a good mentality,” sophomore outfielder Gabby Diaz said.

Similar to other sports, varsity softball emphasizes team bonding both on and off the field. But this team not only works hard in practice, they also continue their bonding throughout the school year by taking classes together and making sure everyone succeeds in the classroom. When players are struggling, Pankowski has been a reliable source of comfort and support to lift each other up.

“Mary has her team and coach backing her up and cheering her on in every practice and game,” Diaz said. “It’s a very positive environment and that’s why the team gets along so well.”