Northwest Herald Female Athlete of the Year: Marengo's Hannah Ritter

Marengo's Hannah Ritter is best known for her clutch hitting and smooth play on a softball field, but the Indians' do-it-all senior proved to be a pretty special player on the court in volleyball and basketball, too.

In her final season, Ritter was named to the All-Kishwaukee River Conference team in all three sports and led her basketball and softball teams to Class 3A regional titles. She was a Northwest Herald All-Area second-team selection in basketball and first-team pick in softball, batting leadoff and playing center field for the sectional champion Indians. Ritter led all area players in batting average (.556), runs scored (66) and steals (39 for 42) and added 16 doubles, two triples, and two home runs.

For her achievements, Ritter was chosen as the Northwest Herald Female Athlete of the Year by the sports staff. Marengo will receive $2,500 from Dr. Steven Rochell, an orthopedic surgeon from Crystal Lake. The Rochell Foundation has given $2,500 to the Male and Female Athlete of the Year winners every year since 1993.

Ritter is the first Marengo girl to be chosen as Female Athlete of the Year since Kristan Knake in 1999. The Indians' Sara Ettner, Ritter's aunt, also took that honor in 1997.

Ritter, who will play softball at NCAA Division III Wisconsin Oshkosh, recently talked to sports writer Alex Kantecki about her dream vacation, her proudest sports moments and her favorite memory from her senior year.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Ritter: To take criticism in a nice way and apply it whenever you can. I've gone through many coaches, and getting advice from all of them has helped shape me into the athlete I am today.

Who is your biggest hero?

Ritter: I have so many role models, from my aunt to my mom. Most of them played collegiate sports. Being able to look at them and their drive in academics and athletics is a big motivator.

What is a sport you would be bad at?

Ritter: I'm not a very good soccer player. I played when I was young, but it’s definitely not my thing. 

What’s your proudest sports moment?

Ritter: When we won our first regional in basketball because we had a stigma around us that girls basketball in Marengo isn't very good. We worked hard in the offseason together, and we finally got to win a regional.

What type of music are you into?

Ritter: I kind of listen to everything. Lately, it's been a lot of country. That's what we play at softball practice all the time.

What’s something people outside your family or team wouldn’t know about you?

Ritter: When I was younger, I swam a lot. I did for seven years, and I was really into it. It came to a point where I had to pick another sport or continue swimming, and I just kind of dropped it to try something different.

What is the best birthday present you’ve ever received?

Ritter: My aunt lives in Texas, and my grandma surprised me one year with plane tickets for winter break.

If you were on a deserted island, what are three things you would want to have with you?

Ritter: Food, water and a way home.

Which professional athlete would you like to hang out with for a day?

Ritter: I don't know about professional athlete, but [outfielder] Haley Cruse from Oregon softball. She kind of calls out all the stigmas about the sport, and she has an attitude about her. I love her. She's awesome.

What would be your ideal vacation?

Ritter: I would definitely like to travel out of the country. I've never been out of the country. I don't have a specific location, but I like to try new things. Going somewhere new and seeing a different way of life would be cool.

If you could have any vehicle, what would it be?

Ritter: Jeep

What is your most prized possession?

Ritter: Sportswise, it's "Where's my state ring?" ... It's in my room, and I've got to make sure it's always there. I'm very into my bats, so those are really important to me. I have to keep those in order.

What will you remember most about your time at Marengo?

Ritter: I'm definitely going to remember all of the great teammates I've had. Playing three team sports, I've played with a lot of girls. They've all had a big impact on me in some way or another, and I keep in touch with most of them.

Who does the best impression of softball coach Dwain Nance?

Ritter: Dani Hartmann. She does Nance pretty well, and she also does [assistant coach] Wayne [Montgomery]. She knows all of Nance's one-liners that he uses, and we give Wayne crap because he mumbles sometimes and we don't know what he's saying. She does that well.

Which teammate really inspires you?

Ritter: Leah Secor. When we played together, she was always looking out for the team first. She was never selfish; she didn't care about her own stats or anything like that. She only cared about the well-being of the team. As a freshman and sophomore on varsity, I definitely looked up to her.

Which teammate makes you laugh the most?

Ritter: Marissa Knobloch. On the basketball court, she's super serious, but when we're on the bench or during timeouts, we're always just messing around.

What actress would play you in a movie about your life?

Ritter: Emma Stone

What superpower would you like to have, and what would be your superhero name?

Ritter: My friends and I just had this conversation. My superpower would be time travel. According to my teammates, my superhero name would be "Clutch."

What musical act would you most like to see this summer? 

Ritter: I've heard a lot about the live-action performance of Aladdin. That would be super cool.

What are you looking forward to the most at Wisconsin Oshkosh?

Ritter: I'm definitely looking forward to starting over. Not that I didn't enjoy my time at Marengo, but it's more about a new atmosphere. You get to senior year, and you kind of have a spot. Not that I didn't' work for my spot, but I kind of get to start competing all over again.

What was your favorite memory from your final softball season?

Ritter: Winning the sectional championship. It was nice that we won, but I think the energy was just up the entire time. We weren't worried about that error last game or last inning. We were all focused on the team, having fun and just goofing around.

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