Katie Schaul opened the season as Dubuque Hempstead’s top power threat and a logical choice for the Mustangs’ No. 3 spot in the lineup.
Her performance at the plate quickly forced the Mustangs to move her up even higher.
Hempstead’s senior third baseman displayed the reason why at the 35th Annual Iowa Girls Coaches Association senior all-star series on Monday in Waukee, Iowa.
Against Charles City ace Samantha Heyer, who struck out 375 batters and posted a 0.50 earned run average over 209 1/3 innings this season, Schaul fought off 10 pitches before finally falling victim to a strikeout in her first plate appearance against the Red Team. Her second time to the plate, Schaul saw 11 pitches before punching a single up the middle off Heyer.
“Nobody was seeing her well, so I was trying to battle off everything,” Schaul said. “I finally got a hit off of her, which was exciting because it didn’t feel like anybody was. I kept fouling it off and then finally 11 pitches later I finally got a hit off of her, so it was exciting.”
That kind of approach helped Schaul put up a spectacular senior season.
Schaul batted third for the Mustangs for the first five games of the season, but with Hempstead looking at a 2-3 record, coach Alisha Frese moved Schaul to the leadoff spot for the second game of a doubleheader against Cedar Rapids Xavier.
The Mustangs won that game, 9-6, beginning a 10-game winning streak and a stretch in which Hempstead won 15 of 17.
“Once we saw that her on-base percentage was above .600 at one point, it was a no-brainer just to move her up there and see if she could get on base for the other girls to drive her in,” Frese said. “We moved her up and that’s where she stayed until the end of the year, for that reason.”
Schaul, a Class 5A first-team all-state selection by the Iowa Girls Coaches Association who will attend the University of Northern Iowa in the fall, hit .462 (61-for-132) this season, scoring a team-high 52 runs and driving in 46. She also had 16 doubles, four triples and three home runs, finishing with a .712 slugging percentage and a .542 on-base percentage. She drew 21 walks and struck out just nine times.
“I think I’m just more relaxed at the plate than I’ve ever been,” Schaul said. “I have nothing to lose is what I tell myself. Like, ‘Oh well, you strike out. Everybody strikes out.’”
Schaul flew out and drew a walk against the Blue Team in the second game on Monday. In addition to manning her usual position at the hot corner, Schaul also played right field and second base for the White Team.
“It was an experience that I wouldn’t trade,” Schaul said. “I got to meet a lot of girls who are going to UNI just like me and they are playing on the softball team, so it was a cool experience. I just got to play with higher-level competition and see pitching that I haven’t seen, so that was cool to see all these players from all over, different classes and conferences where I never would have seen them. It was a really good experience.”
Her favorite memory, though, involves the crowd experience. Hempstead’s softball program took a charter bus to the game.
“Seeing my fans out there, my family and my team just cheering me on more than anybody else had in the crowd, they were like who is that? I was like, those are my teammates,” Schaul said. “It was something really special knowing I have teammates that will forever be my friends and coaches who care about me.”