Jaclyn Arute is never one to set goals. She just puts in the hard work and lets the success come to her.
It worked at Berlin High School, where Arute became an All-State and all-conference softball player for the Redcoats. And it’s working again during her freshman season at Rutgers University-Newark where Arute has already made a big impact.
Through the Scarlet Raiders’ first 25 games, Arute leads the team in hitting with a .437 batting average - the next closest is .429 even though Arute has appeared in nine more games - runs with 26 and has six doubles and two triples.
She is Rutgers-Newark’s starting shortstop, having started 23 games, and was named the New Jersey Athletic Conference Rookie of the Week on March 27 after going 5-for-10 with a .700 slugging percentage with a triple and two runs.
“My main goal when I got to [Rutgers-Newark] was to just try and get on the field as soon as possible,” Arute said. “It’s definitely an honor [getting a Rookie of the Week] because we’re in such a competitive conference with a lot of great players. I’ve had a lot of support from my family, my teammates, coaches. I wouldn’t be here without any of them, especially my family.”
But going to Rutgers-Newark wasn’t always in Arute’s plans. She first learned of the school through one of her travel softball coaches who had been a player at CCSU under then-assistant and now Scarlet Raiders head coach Kristen Hunt.
Arute’s travel coach told her Hunt wanted to speak with her and to reach out, so the former Berlin player sent out an email, leading to her arriving about 115 miles from home.
“[Hunt] emailed me back in 20 minutes and was like, ‘you need to come down for a visit,’” Arute said. “I took a couple of visits and realized I couldn’t go four years without playing and I knew it was the school for me. And to have a coach like [Hunt], that’s great.”
It was also a bit of a culture shock for Arute, going from Berlin to Newark, NJ. Not only did she have to adjust to a new state, but to a different style of play on the field.
“It’s definitely been a big adjustment going from a small town like Berlin, where everyone is close, to a place like Newark,” Arute said. “New Jersey is a lot different than Connecticut, especially the way they play. They start sooner here. It’s faster. Our games are all doubleheaders. At home, the season starts a little later and things move a little slower.”
She’s also had to make the transition back to shortstop after spending her senior season with the Redcoats patrolling center field. Even during the offseason, Arute practiced and learned a number of other positions in an attempt to get on the field quicker.
“In high school, I played center field because we needed an outfielder at the time,” Artue said. “I actually hadn’t played short in about a year and a half before coming here. I was always a shortstop, but I was able to be versatile in the past, so once I got out on the field, it was just a memory refresher. But going into the season, I knew it was going to be a challenge and I told my coach I was open to playing anywhere.”
The results, however, speak for themselves. At shortstop, Arute has a .906 fielding percentage, while being responsible for 45 putouts and assisting on 51 others.
Going forward, Arute just wants to continue to improve upon what has already been an impressive start to her college career both in the classroom, where she is double majoring in business management and marketing, and on the field.
“I’m happy with what I’m doing right now,” Arute said. “But throughout the course of [the season and offseason], I’m just trying to work on little things and improve myself.”
That could be a scary reality for future opponents.
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org