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Relays Edition

Rebekah Schmidt talks Drake Softball, Bulldogs and her legacy

STORY BY MICHAEL WENDLANDT

Drake Softball has been successful so far in 2015 as the midway point of the regular season has come and gone. They lead the Missouri Valley Conference with a record of 25-13.

One of the team’s catalysts is pitcher Rebekah Schmidt, who was just named as the MVC Softball Pitcher of the Week for the third time this season.

The senior hails from Cottage Grove, Minnesota and has led the team from the mound alongside fellow starter Nicole Newman. She has had an exceptional year thus far, striking out 127 batters in 135.2 innings and winning 14 of her 22 starts.

Why did you decide to play softball at Drake?
I was between here and another school. They’re both smaller and similar, but I really liked Drake’s business school and wanted something different. I knew the other school and their conference teams, and I wanted a fresh start and an adventure. So I went to Drake.

What was your favorite thing when you first got to Drake?
I really like how small it is. We always talk about the Drake family as an athletic program. Each year has been so different with freshmen coming in and seniors graduating and leaving. And we’ve always had a solid core of who we are. Every year my class has done a really good job to establish that more. And this year has been awesome.

What’s been your favorite part of being on the softball team?
I love pitching. It’s a game-within-a-game, and it is kind of a roller coaster sometimes. Sometimes I pitch really well and sometimes I struggle. Obviously that isn’t the case every time, but it is a constant battle and a lot of times it involves staying within myself, but I like the pressure and the overall leadership that it provides.

What is your favorite part of the game-within-a-game?
Striking people out. Getting ahead and getting to what our coach calls the “kill pitch.” All my hard work in practice comes to a reality when there is an actual opponent and you send them out of the box.

Being the primary pitcher on a great team, what does that mean to you?
It is a combination of the pitching staff and defense as well as our hitting. Nicole Newman is doing so well finishing games so I have fewer pitches to throw. This is the first year as the primary starting pitcher and I love it. I was in that role back in high school and traveling leagues and to get that opportunity again is awesome. But I really love our staff, and that is what is getting us this far.

What’s your “kill pitch”?
It depends on the day and on the wind. I throw an off-speed rise ball. It is slower and makes it hard for hitters to adjust.

Who’s the funniest player on the team?
Megan Sowa has some funny moments. She’s always a character and has me laughing.

What’s been your favorite individual memory from your four years of Drake softball?
Probably sophomore year, I hit a home run against Oklahoma, who won the national title that year. The pitcher was Keilana Ricketts, who is playing professionally now. That was pretty awesome.

What’s been your biggest struggle as a Division I athlete?
A lot of it is the mental game. We have such a long season and within your season we go through mini-seasons. Sometimes we’re not hitting or the pitching is struggling. Coach calls it a marathon. I think staying mentally focused, not getting too in your own head is the key. Trusting the process is huge for us.

What will be your biggest memory of Drake?
My old pitching coach always talked of when we would leave. You wouldn’t always remember the games or the big moments, but you would miss the family. I’ll definitely remember certain games and moments, but I’ll really miss my teammates. Something that has stuck with me is my class. That’ll be my best memory: playing four years with them and forging lifelong friendships.

In 10 years when you return to Drake, what do you want to follow your name? What will be your legacy?
I want to be known as an unselfish player who looked out for my team, both on and off the field, someone that truly wanted the most success even if it means that I don’t get it personally. That especially applies to Nicole. I want her to break all the records, and she has so much potential to do that. I play with integrity and am someone who puts the team first.

Schmidt’s career win total of 51 is just 15 victories shy of the Drake record, set by Laurie Bowden in 1993. And her play this year has helped the Bulldogs earn their best record at this point in the season since 2010.

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