Former state champion and local legend returns home to play for Blugolds

Evie Schaller hopes to continue producing for Blugolds as they look to end the regular season strong

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Former state champion and local legend returns home to play for Blugolds

Photo by SUBMITTED

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As political campaigns and elections are beginning to heat up, many politicians are under scrutiny for talking the talk, but not walking the walk.

For junior shortstop Evie Schaller, that is all but the case, as she has brought a powerful presence to the (18-11-1) Blugolds softball lineup this spring, coach Leslie Huntington said.

The Blugolds have won seven of their last eight games, and much of that success on their hot streak has to do with transfer athlete Schaller, Huntington said.

Schaller, a graduate of Chippewa Falls Senior High School, is batting .425 with two home runs and 28 runs batted in.

Coming out of high school, Schaller was a top recruit, having been looked at by multiple programs around the area. She decided to take her talents to NCAA Division II Winona State University (Minn.), a softball program typically amongst the top teams in the NCAA II NSIC conference. Huntington said she was even in attendance at some of Schaller’s high school games as she liked what she saw in her play on the diamond.

“I saw her play in high school and definitely had interest in her playing for me,” Huntington said. “I knew she was being recruited by other division I and division II schools so I never thought she would actually be a Blugold.”

Two years down the road at Winona State and Schaller was not satisfied with her role on the Warriors’ roster, and began looking to play elsewhere after the season, she said.

According to NCAA rules, a player cannot inquire or talk to other coaches until after the player is released from the team he/she is presently playing for.

That being said, Schaller talked with her coach at Winona and decided it was time to move on.

Soon after her release, Schaller contacted Huntington and said they had a pleasant conversation about how she could potentially fit in the Blugold program.

“We talked about the possibility of her playing here and everything turned out the way it should have,” Huntington said. “I knew her experience at the Division II level would benefit our program. It was a win-win decision for both her and our team.”

One thing that drew her to the program, Schaller said, was the coaching staff and how passionate about the sport they are in general.

“It makes us want to be at practice and improve every day,” Schaller said. “The coaches give us the tools to succeed and help us stay true to the process.”

So far this season, Schaller has played up to the hype of her softball resume in the area. She still holds numerous school records including 47 career home runs, almost 150 career RBIs, a four-time All-State nominee and 2012 Division I player of the year at her high school.

“It has been really enjoyable for me to play and have such an impact on this team. I feel much more at home playing here,” Schaller said. “The coaches and players are truly great people and I am thankful that I get to experience the game I love with them.”

Now, playing about 20 minutes away from her hometown, Schaller is bringing exactly what she possessed in high school to Carson Park and producing for the Blugolds lineup.

Huntington described Schaller’s personality as “quiet thunder,” meaning her game speaks loudly. She is not a super outgoing or vocal individual, but she gets along well with her teammates, which allows her to bring the team to another level, Huntington said.

“She’s almost the same player she was in high school,” Huntington said. “She has great hands, a quick release and a great bat. That’s what I expected when I found out she was coming here. She takes the game very seriously and has become one of greatest assets both on the offensive side and defensive side of the field.”

Just as Schaller once brought a title to her Chi-Hi Cardinals, she said she hopes to mimic that success at her new home in Eau Claire with her “quiet thunder” approach to the game.