NEW ULM — Coming back off two straight state championships, New Ulm senior softball player Ellie Schneider knew her team had some holes to fill this season. Despite graduating their top pitcher and starting shortstop, Schneider believed the Eagles could return to state.
“We lost some good players but we had a lot of good players coming back, too,” she said. “Once the season started and we saw that Tori (Botten) could handle the pitching duties I knew we would be OK.”
Schneider, a second baseman, falls into one of the good-players-coming-back category. She has hit third in the lineup all season and has the ability to both slap and hit with power.
She was instrumental in the last two state championship runs and has been a key cog again this season, helping New Ulm build at 19-4 record. Even before she started playing at the age of 6, Schneider grew up around a baseball or softball diamond. Her oldest brother, Jordan, played baseball and her older sister, Emily, played softball.
When she was old enough to play herself, she slipped right into the New Ulm Girls Fastpitch Association and did well.
She has played alongside fellow seniors Rachel Strandmark, Hannah Becker, Katie Forst, Patty Grube and Kali Denn for most of her life, including the last few years in the New Ulm High School program.
“As a group of seniors we’re pretty laid back,” Schneider said. “We push ourselves to be good but we don’t get caught up in the winning and losing. We take what comes and then we move on.”
Schneider said the turning point for the team this season came at the Lakeville Tournament in early May. New Ulm lost three straight games at the tourney but didn’t panic.
“We lost bad to Prior Lake (9-1) but then lost to Lakeville South in extra innings and to Champlin Park something like 11-7,” she said. “We were hitting the ball well and we knew that was going to be our strength.