WICHITA, Kan.—So your high school athlete has finished their stellar prep career, and it’s off to college, but which college will they choose?
According to Chuck Schrader, head coach at Clearwater High School, and founder of the Renegades summer softball program, the last thing a coach wants to see is a young lady unhappy with her choice after making a decision on a school. Young athletes, even when they are freshman in high school, are within the recruiting radar. He offers this advice:
“It’s so much easier to communicate with coaches now,” said Schrader. “You’re one email away from letting a coach know you are interested in going to school there.”
In the email, enclose a summer schedule, and if you play for a team that plays in any big tournaments, the coaches will most likely be there already and will stop by knowing you are playing at the given time.
“If you do nothing and just expect to be found, in this day and age, with the way kids are able to communicate with coaches, I don’t know how good your chances are going to be at that point,” said Schrader.
“There are so many benefits that come from being a part of an organization like that and being a part of the college,” said Schrader. “The networking that it helps you with as far as being able to enhance your career after softball is invaluable to kids.” This holds true with current softball players at the Division I, II, and the Community College level.
Nikki Armagost, an Andover Central alum and high school standout pitcher, recently finished her junior season at the University of the Pacific, a Division I school in Stockton, California. Armagost was named Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year in 2010 and Big West Player of the year in 2011. This year she hit .433 in 51 games and led Pacific to a record of 34-20.
During high school, she played for Griggs’ Mustangs, and continues to help the organization when she can. She agrees summer ball is a vital part of being recruited to college.
“We go to a bunch of college exposure tournaments,” said Armagost. “You can get involved in those and play against a random team who has coaches looking at them. You have a chance to do well and be seen by them too.”
Armagost gives her advice to the young girls that have not found the school they are looking for.
“For people that aren’t getting many looks, keep your head up. If you keep working hard and looking for schools you will find one that will fit you perfectly. It’s a tough decision, it’s a life decision. It’s the rest of your life.”
Armagost is an education major and spends time assisting a teacher in California.
“I would never regret this decision,” said Armagost. “It’s made a lot of opportunities for me. It’s opened my world to a lot of things that I would not have gotten if I stayed around and went to a school that everyone thought I should go to.”
Sometimes a Division II school is the right choice for you according to current Emporia State pitcher Karley Schmelzer.
Schmelzer played for Andale/Garden Plain and was a member of the all-state team her junior and senior seasons.
“Going to a Division II means a whole lot to me,” said Schmelzer, who is majoring in elementary education. “I know it’s not as much money or as much gear, but I’m only an hour and a half away from home which allows my parents to come watch us play, my sister also plays for Emporia State. If I went to a D-I further away, they may never see me play.”
Schmelzer completed her junior year with a 21-5 record as Emporia State finished 42-11. With 180 strike outs in 169 innings of work, she enjoys the success of her team.
“We have gone to regionals every year that I’ve gone to school there, and almost every year in the past as well.“
But it isn’t just the winning that has given Schmelzer such a wonderful college experience.
“I’ve enjoyed my time. We have a special bond because of the stuff we have been through. At one point we shoveled three feet of snow off our field. We don’t have a field crew, so we did it all on our own. It means a lot to us because we moan and complain about it, but at the end of the year we have made it through so much as a team.”
If Division I and II schools do not interest you, or they’re not interested in you, the Community College route may be the next option.
Twin sisters Mac and Alex Millspaugh of Wichita Northwest both played summer ball for the Wichita Storm Gold, in addition to their time with the Grizzlies. Both will be sophomores at Butler Community College this fall.
Butler had a record of 39-18 this season, with Mac leading the team from the circle with a 1.91 ERA in 176.1 innings. Both Mac and Alex hit over .280 this season.
“It’s been great,” said Mac. “I love the girls on the team. We have fun and the competition is good.”
After the coming year, the sisters will have another decision to make.
“We definitely want to continue playing softball. We love it so much. We don’t know what we would do if we didn’t play.”
Now the recruiting process begins again as they search for the next step to finishing their college experiences.
“We don’t care where it is because we just want to play,” said Mac. The Millspaugh sisters are both major in business. Alex plans to pursue accounting while Mac would like to do marketing and finance.
For those who have always loved the game and do not know whether to continue playing at higher levels, Griggs says it’s a very simple answer.
“Use softball. It’s using you, so use it back. Use it as a vehicle; use it to get what you want out of life,” said Griggs. “Take one of your passions and use it to your advantage.”
Schrader shares a similar mindset in regards to using softball to achieve bigger goals.
“If you go 100%, it’s easy to walk away satisfied. In life you never stay the same. You get better or worse every day.”
Upcoming college softball camps
University of Kansas
High school camp July 16-19
Pitcher and catcher camp July 19-20
Wichita State University
High school camp July 9-11
Clinic from June 27- July 26