When Hannah Wislander took a visit to Northern Iowa last month, she did not anticipate for it to turn into anything big.

"It was really just a chance for me to cross off my list that I visited a big school," she said. 

It evolved into something much more.

The Davenport Assumption softball player received an offer from the coaching staff and a day later committed to the Missouri Valley Conference program. 

"It felt like home," Wislander said. "Everything about it, I felt comfortable there."

Wislander, who helped Assumption to its first state softball crown this past summer, is coming off a breakout junior season with a .473 average, 5 home runs and 33 RBIs. 

She emailed different schools this summer to get her name out there.

"I sent an email to UNI hoping for a response and to start something up," she said. "The next thing, I got an email from coach Jake (Ryan Jacobs). It just kept spiraling from there."

UNI was the only Division I program in the mix. She also considered Wisconsin-Platteville, Southwest Minnesota State, Coe and Luther. 

Wislander said the decision came down to UNI and Luther. 

"I figured out in sixth grade when I fell in love with the sport that I never wanted to give it up and it was something I wanted to continue in college," Wislander said. "It really is a dream come true."

Thanks to a big leap between her sophomore and junior seasons, it allowed for the UNI opportunity.

Wislander batted .358 as a sophomore and struck out a team-high 16 times. Besides raising her average more than 100 points, she cut down on her strikeouts and improved her on-base percentage by almost 100 points.

"My freshman and sophomore year, I was just middle of the pack," she said. "I could hit well, but I wasn't a standout. I was just mediocre. 

"After my sophomore season, I sat down with my parents and talked about how I wanted to pursue this more and be better for my team."

Wislander, also on the basketball squad, committed more time to softball. She did hitting workouts four to five times a week 

It led to becoming a first team all-Mississippi Athletic Conference choice at utility and second team all-state in Class 3A by the Iowa Girls Coaches Association. 

Wislander said the plan is for her to play first base at UNI. She'll have several familiar faces with her in the program.

Assumption catcher Emma Valainis is in her freshman season with the Panthers. Hannah Kelley, the reigning MAC player of the year, committed earlier this summer and joins Wislander in the 2018 class. 

"It makes it that much more fun to be there with teammates," Wislander said.

First, Wislander has one more high school softball season. The Knights begin next season with a 44-game win streak. 

"I just want to have a great last season with my team and hopefully we can make it as far as we did this past year," she said. "I just need to continue to push myself and make myself better for the team and my future team."


Sports Editor

Prep sports editor, with emphasis on covering the Mississippi Athletic Conference and Iowa area high schools. I've been in sports journalism for 17 years, the last five at the Quad-City Times.