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Schumacher inks with Jayhawks

By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

Hays High School senior Katelyn Schumacher has dedicated her life to softball. She plays it nearly year-round and travels to compete against national competition.

All that hard work paid off Wednesday when she signed to play on the biggest collegiate stage at the University of Kansas.

Schumacher said she was happy to receive the offer from KU, because she's worked hard to get this far.

"It was my favorite school," Schumacher said. "I've always dreamed of going there since I was younger. I've always been a big fan."

Schumacher competes during the spring with Hays High, but during the summer and fall, she plays every weekend with the Wichita Mustangs, an 18-under traveling team that plays across the country and sends many of its players to Division I colleges. The Mustangs even play some tournaments during winter.

"All of the coaching I've gotten from my coaches and my dad, they all put so much work in with me, too," Schumacher said.

Hays High head coach Abby Maska said Schumacher's willingness to go the extra mile and compete all year with the Mustangs likely was a significant reason for why she attracted the attention of several Division I schools.

"I think that's a big part of it, especially with where we are at," Maska said. "When kids are signing to play Division I sports, they have to realize they are going up against a lot of kids from the West Coast and places where they can play all year around."

At KU, Schumacher said the coaches have told her she could be used in a utility role as well as in left field.

She plans to major in biochemistry and hopes to eventually get into medical school.

"I'm really excited," she said. "The athletics down there are treated pretty well. It will be fun."

Schumacher started playing in a Hays Recreation Commission league when she was 6 or 7, and she stuck with it ever since.

Softball has been Schumacher's life, but she said baseball and softball run in the family.

Schumacher's little brother plays, and her uncle, Brian Schumacher, and cousin Dustin Schumacher have been deeply involved in the Hays baseball scene. Brian Schumacher coaches TMP during the spring, and Dustin coaches the Hays Monarchs -- a summer American Legion baseball team composed of players from TMP.

"It's always been our family's thing," Katelyn Schumacher said. "It just kind of happened to where I always loved it."

It's the first NCAA Division I signee in Maska's five-year tenure at Hays High.

"She has spent a lot of time developing herself as a Division I softball player," Maska said.

Katelyn Schumacher's signing is a good sign for Hays High athletics, Maska said.

"We are really proud of our kids who are able to move on and play at that level," Maska said. "It's a boost to all of our athletics program even. It gives an example for our kids to follow and pursue."