Schultz and Lundberg are All-Area softball co-Players of the Year

Published 2:20 pm Saturday, July 5, 2014

Hannah Lundberg, left, and Jade Schultz of NRHEG are the Tribune's 2014 softball co-Players of the Year. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Hannah Lundberg, left, and Jade Schultz of NRHEG are the Tribune’s 2014 softball co-Players of the Year. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

NEW RICHLAND — Strong play from the pitching circle and behind the dish helped the NRHEG softball team accumulate 14 wins this season.

Both positions were filled by the Panthers’ captains: Jade Schultz and Hannah Lundberg, who were the only seniors on the team.

Schultz and Lundberg are the Tribune’s softball co-Players of the Year.

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NRHEG coach Wendy Schultz said the duo took a step forward this season.

“You could see their progression,” she said. “They were always good leaders, but when you’re a senior, you have to be and are expected to be.”

Schultz and Lundberg are three-sport athletes who play the same sports: volleyball in the fall, basketball in the winter and softball in the spring.

The basketball team won its second straight Class AA state title, and Schultz said the success carried over to the spring.

“I think that working as much as we did in basketball, it made us better on the field this year,” she said.

Despite throwing over 20 innings more than any other pitcher in the Tribune’s five-team spring softball coverage area, Schultz posted the lowest earned-run average: 1.45. Her pitching record of 14-8 led the area.

Schultz also found success at the plate. Her 35 total hits were second in the area, and her batting average of .427 was sixth.

As a baserunner, she was fourth in the area with seven stolen bases.

Lundberg was also strong on the basepaths. Her 20 stolen bases more than doubled anyone in the area.

Lundberg said she attempted to steal based on signals from coach Schultz, but sometimes she used her observational skills to round the bases.

“If the ball is in the dirt — and I know the catcher doesn’t have that great of an arm — I’ll run,” she said. “Or, if the players aren’t paying attention, I’ll go.”

At the plate, Lundberg was third in the area with a batting average of .438 and in a three-way tie for sixth place in hits with 28.

Schultz and Lundberg started together on the Panthers’ roster as sophomores. Their chemistry was good enough that Lundberg could react to any pitch behind the dish without having to call it beforehand.

“We don’t call pitches because it doesn’t bother her what I throw,” Schultz said. “I just tried to get it over the plate.”

Schultz said she started pitching in fourth grade with her dad, John Schultz, and a bucket of balls. Lundberg began catching in seventh grade, moved to pitcher her eighth-grade and freshman years and moved back to catcher her sophomore year.

The Panthers (14-8 overall, 9-1 Gopher Conference) lost five of their eight games by one run, and made it to the Subsection 2AA South finals before falling into the consolation bracket.

Coach Schultz said it was special coaching her daughter during her senior season. She is one victory away from her 200th coaching win.

After University of Minnesota women’s basketball coach Pam Borton was fired, Schultz’s college plans changed. She said the new plan is to attend Minnesota State University, Mankato. Lundberg plans to attend North Central University in Minneapolis.