Young and talented

Five metro-area softball players, all juniors or younger, explain their college choices:

Maddie Houlihan

Benilde-St. Margaret’s, jr., 1B

Minnesota

“I grew up going to Gophers games. I went to a camp and feel in love with the atmosphere and the coaches. I still pinch myself because it’s a real honor.’

Emma Hylen

Roseville, jr., P

Iowa State

“At first, I thought it would be too boring and it’s all corn. But I changed my mind as soon as I drove through campus. I thought it was beautiful and a perfect fit for me.”

Justus Perry

Prior Lake, soph., 1B/3B

Auburn

“When I committed to Arizona St., I got really close to Coach [Clint] Myers and his son Corey [one of his assistants]. I went there because of the coaches. When they moved to Auburn, I went with. They make me a better player.”

Sydney Smith

Maple Grove, jr., P

LSU

“My mom is from down South. The first thing my dad asked when we made my list is what I wanted to do. I said I wanted to play where it’s warm. LSU fit me perfectly.”

Gabby Sprang

Rosemount, fr., P

Tennessee

“I never had a dream school, so my parents told me to go where I was most comfortable. I love the campus and the coaches, and they have a tradition of really supporting women’s athletics there.”

Jim Paulsen