Having an older sister that competed in the Minnesota State softball program, Lani Schoper already had all the information she needed to make her college choice.
“I wanted to stay close so that my family and friends could watch my home games, and MSU’s right here,” Schoper said. “I wanted to go to a winning program, and MSU has been really successful. I love the coaches, love the campus ... the facilities are awesome.”
Schoper, who will be a senior at Mankato West in a month, has made a verbal commitment to continue her softball and academic career at Minnesota State. She had considered other Division II programs, but once the hometown university made her an offer, she stopped looking around. She made a campus visit shortly after the state tournament in June.
“I just knew right away that’s where I wanted to go,” she said.
Schoper started as an outfielder, but she shifted to second base when she joined the West varsity. Last season, she batted .453 with five doubles, one triple and three home runs. She had 20 RBIs and scored 34 runs.
“She has such a high softball IQ,” West coach Don Krusemark said. “She knows the game better than most, and she has all the physical tools. She has a good eye at the plate, she plays great defense, she’s fast, she hits for average and has a little pop, too. The mark of a good player is that she makes everyone around her better, and Lani certainly does that.”
West was 28-6 last season and finished third at the Class AAA tournament.
Schoper said she’s not sure which position she’ll play in college, and is willing to play wherever she’s told.
Schoper’s older sister Lexi was a pitcher for the Minnesota State softball team in 2018 and 2019. She started at Minnesota State with the women’s basketball program and played one season before switching to softball.
“I talked with her a little bit, and she had good things to say about MSU,” Schoper said. “But I also wanted to make the decision on my own. I grew up around the program, and I love it.”
Lani Schoper is also a top basketball player at West, averaging 16.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.7 steals last season. She’s scored 1,200 points so far in her career.
But she said after tearing a knee ligament before her sophomore season, she knew that softball would be her best option for college.
“I love the competition of the sport,” she said. “I love the team aspect, and MSU has an awesome team.”
Krusemark said that MSU was a great choice for Schoper.
“That’s a high-level program with great coaches,” he said. “I think she’s a great fit for them. I’m excited for Lani.”
Schoper was in Illinois earlier this week, playing in her final summer softball tournament. She’ll play basketball again this winter before her final season of high-school softball.
“All the pressure is off now,” she said. “I was so stressed by the recruiting process. Now I can play and have fun.”
Follow Chad Courrier on Twitter @ChadCourrier.