Hempstead’s Katie Schaul (10) celebrates with teammates after hitting a home run in the Mustangs’ May 21 game against Dubuque Wahlert. Schaul is the Telegraph Herald Athlete of the Week.

Katie Schaul is proving to be a force to be reckoned with at the plate early on this season.

The Dubuque Hempstead senior currently leads the Mississippi Valley in RBIs with 17 through eight games. During last week’s doubleheader against Waterloo West, the Telegraph Herald Athlete of the Week went 5-for-5 with a grand slam and two triples.

“Katie has been hitting the ball very well so far this season,” Hempstead coach Alisha Frese said. “We started her at the three spot, but after a few games we decided to move her to the leadoff. She just does a great job of getting on base for us.”

Schaul has been playing on the varsity since her eighth-grade year, and moved into a starting role at third base as a freshman.

“I think that the work I have put in over the years to improve my game has really paid off,” Schaul said. “I used to not be the best batter, but Coach Frese has worked hard with me to fix my swing. I am a lot more confident up at the plate now.”

Through 10 games, Schaul has two home runs, two triples and three doubles with a .519 batting average. Her grand slam against Waterloo West marked the first of her career.

“It was really special,” she said. “I have put a lot of work into my swing, so it meant a lot to hit one. As a freshman I was hitting No. 8 in the lineup, so it’s nice to see how far I’ve come.”

The veteran third-baseman said there is no position she’d rather play.

“I love playing third,” she said. “There is a lot of action over there and I love how there’s no time to react.”

Added Frese: Katie has a strong arm, and she isn’t afraid to get dirty. She has a lot of playing experience and I think she is realizing that the younger girls look up to her.”

As one of just three seniors on this year’s team, Schaul knows she is looked to as one of the team leaders.

“All of us seniors are really trying to step into that leadership role,” Schaul said. “We had a good senior class last year that we looked up to, and now it’s our turn to take that on.”

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