HUNTINGTON — The Chicago Cubs recognize a great hitting instructor when they see one, regardless of gender.
The Cubs hired former Marshall University softball star Rachel Folden as the lead hitting lab tech and coach for their Arizona Rookie League affiliate in Mesa, Arizona.
“I’m extremely honored and proud for this opportunity to work for this organization,” said Folden, who stresses efficiency in a batter’s swing. “First class from the top down and I can’t wait to get started. It’s been a dream of mine to work in baseball for a while, now.”
A 2019 inductee into the Marshall Hall of Fame and 2008 graduate, Folden was an all-American catcher who went on to play professionally for the Chicago Bandits.
The Cubs’ interest in Folden began last winter when during the team’s convention she asked general manager Theo Epstein if he planned to hire more women in the organization. Epstein said they were and he made good on his word by hiring the former power-hitting catcher.
Folden, 32, operates Folden Fastpitch in Merrillville, Indiana. She has focused on biomechanics, science, technology and data since the company’s inception in 2010. She also has served as a consultant for Elite Baseball Training, owned by Justin Stone, whom the Cubs also hired.
“She’s going to be a star,” Stone told mlb.com, citing Folden’s organizational and people skills, along with her energy as traits that help make her a valuable coach.
Stone added that if Folden were a male, she’d “already be a big-league hitting coach.”
Folden will work with Chicago’s two Arizona League affiliates.
“I’m happy to be one of the first,” Folden said of being a pioneer of women’s coaches in Major League Baseball.
In five pro seasons, Folden smashed 41 home runs, second-best all-time in the National Pro Fastpitch League. Her 122 RBI rank third and 101 walks sixth. Pro softball players, though, generally don’t have lengthy careers. Folden realized that and opted for coaching.