Johnsburg’s Kate Linkletter received about 15 calls and texts Sept. 1 from softball coaches interested in recruiting the Skyhawks’ junior third baseman.
Per NCAA rules, coaches cannot contact players until Sept. 1 of their junior year of high school.
“It kind of was like Christmas morning for me,” Linkletter said. “You don’t know until Sept. 1 hits who is all interested in you, so that was really exciting. Afterward, I was just going through the process and enjoying it.”
After some time, Linkletter narrowed down the list of 15 to five: Wisconsin, Michigan State, Iowa, Southern Illinois and Northern Iowa. On Tuesday, she announced her verbal commitment to the NCAA Division I Badgers and softball coach Yvette Healy.
Linkletter, who plays travel softball on Illinois Chill Gold, joins Richmond-Burton senior shortstop Peyton Bannon as future softball players at the Big Ten school in Madison, Wisconsin. Linkletter also is friends with current Wisconsin freshman Fiona Girardot, a former Chill Gold player.
The Badgers were the first team in the country to reach 30 wins last season, going 43-14 and 15-8 in the Big Ten for fifth place. Wisconsin made its third straight trip to the NCAA Tournament and lost to No. 1-ranked Oklahoma to end its season.
Linkletter liked how Healy recruited both the player and player’s family.
“The biggest thing for me was that [Healy] recruited the families of the players just as much as the player,” Linkletter said. “She wanted to make sure she was recruiting good people, not just the player. She’s super positive, and I think she’ll be a good fit for me as a coach. She’s always looking at things from everyone else’s perspective.”
Linkletter was a repeat Northwest Herald All-Area second-team pick as a sophomore, batting .452 with 16 doubles, three triples, seven home runs, 39 runs and 26 RBIs. Linkletter reached base in exactly half of her plate appearances.
Linkletter started playing softball when she was 5 years old. Playing in college always has been a big dream.
“I’m just super blessed that I get the opportunity to keep playing,” Linkletter said. “It’s been a big dream of mine, but I knew I had to work super hard to get there. I’ve always been one of those people who knows my weaknesses, and I worked on them, so I think that’s the biggest thing that’s gotten me to where I am today. I’m a super hard worker, and I love softball. The biggest thing is I play softball to have fun.”
Johnsburg was 13-15 and 5-7 in the Kishwaukee River Conference for fifth place. The Skyhawks graduated six, but Linkletter believes Johnsburg will return a competitive group with the returners and the addition of some impact freshmen.
“I think this year we’re just going to try and go out and have a lot more fun,” Linkletter said. “And I’m hoping we get a lot more wins this year.”