BY KEVIN BONESKE
Ali Schickert wants to continue being a softball pitcher after she graduates from Rhinelander High School.
The RHS senior signed a letter of intent Wednesday in the school’s Digital Media Center to play softball at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
“I went down for a visit and the coach was very friendly, and I met some of the team, and the team was very friendly, and it was just a good fit,” Schickert said. “I thought I would fit in with the girls and that I really wanted to carry it to the next level.”
RHS head softball coach D.J. DeMeyer said Schickert has earned the opportunity to play softball in college.
“She’s a very hard worker, she’s very positive all the time,” DeMeyer said. “I’m very happy for her. She’s going to be successful at the next level, because she’ll work hard enough to be successful.”
DeMeyer said he also hopes Schickert’s advancing to play college softball will help elevate RHS’s program.
“It takes a lot of work to get where she’s at, and if we can get the girls to work that hard, we’re going to be very successful,” he said.
Hodags softball pitching coach Danny McDonald said he also expects Schickert to do very well in college.
“She’s a quick learner, she wants to learn and she’s very enthusiastic about it,” McDonald said. “Nobody is going to outwork her. She’ll do very well, no doubt.”
Upon joining the college ranks to play softball, Schickert said she envisions herself becoming part of the pitching staff at UW-La Crosse, an NCAA Division III school.
“I know I might not get a bunch of pitching time as a freshman, but I think if I work at it I will be right up there, eventually, as a sophomore, a junior,” she said. “Their pitching staff is very young, but there’s also not a lot of (pitchers), so I can foresee myself playing.”
Schickert, a unanimous All-Great Northern Conference first-team selection in softball last season, has been a three-sport athlete for the Hodags by also playing tennis and basketball. Last fall she was named second-team all-conference in tennis at No. 1 doubles with Erica Counter, who signed a letter of intent to play women’s tennis at Marian University in Fond du Lac.
Of the sports in which Schickert has participated in high school, she said softball is her favorite.
“I work at it the hardest, it’s a fun sport for me and it’s just something that I’ve always loved,” she said. “I did the other sports just to really stay in shape and it was something fun, but I feel that I’m more valuable at the softball position.”
Despite sustaining a knee injury in the Hodags’ first home game of the season Tuesday against Mosinee, Schickert said she expects to be ready to play next season at UW-La Crosse.
“I’m just hoping right now that it’s the meniscus and that I’ll be back in a couple weeks, actually,” she said. “Hopefully I can finish out the end of the season here (at RHS).”
Schickert said she plans to study early elementary education in college and also wants to major in special education.