Shakopee hasn’t been to the Class 3A softball state tournament since 2011. Third baseman Hannah Mendez hopes to help the Sabers end that three-year drought in her senior season.
The past two seasons the Sabers have come up one game short of playing in the Section 2 finals. They were eliminated by Mankato West in 2013 and Prior Lake in 2014.
Shakopee is coming off a 13-9 season. It finished fifth in the now-defunct Missota Conference. The Sabers will be competing in the South Suburban Conference this year.
Here is a closer look at Mendez, who also ran cross-country for the Sabers last fall:
Q What is the best movie you have seen in the last year?
A “Miracle.” It’s a classic and never gets old.
Q Three songs you never skip on your iPod are …
A … “The Riff Off” from “Pitch Perfect”; “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran; and “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift.
Q Three words or phrases your friends or teammates would use to describe you are …
A … competitive, hardworking and dedicated.
Q How did you get started playing softball?
A I always used to play ball in the back yard with my brother and his friends when I was little.
Q At your first varsity practice, you were …
A … intimidated. I felt so young compared to everyone else, and didn’t want to mess up.
Q What is your favorite meal before a game?
A I usually don’t like to eat before games, but I’ll occasionally have some almonds.
Q To get focused for a game, you …
A … sing “Travelin’ Soldier” by The Dixie Chicks with my teammates while putting our cleats on.
Q What are your goals for the upcoming season?
A I hope to lead our softball team to the conference title and earn a trip to the state tournament.
Q What is your most memorable moment as a high school athlete?
A Hitting my first varsity home run [a three-run shot] during the first game of the season against Mankato West my sophomore year. We ended up winning the game 9-6 in 11 innings.
Q Who is your school’s biggest rival, and why?
A Prior Lake, because our games our always competitive. We are now in the same conference and always end up playing each other in the section tournament, too.
Q If you could change one thing about high school sports, what would it be?
A Make all games free for students, so they can support their school.
Q How do you balance school and sports during the year?
A I save sleep for the offseason.
Q Name one sport that you wish you could play, and why?
A Tennis, because I play it all the time for fun and it takes a lot of skill.
Q Who is your favorite college or pro sports team, and why?
A The Minnesota Twins because I love baseball and grew up watching them.
Q In 10 years, you hope you are …
A ... in medical school pursuing a degree in radiology.
Q What is the best sports advice you have ever received?
A “You can strike out twice and still have a good day.” — Tom Erickson, a softball coach in the Shakopee program.