By Rich Palzewic
ASHWAUBENON – Berritt Herr’s dream of playing college softball is now a reality.
Herr, a right-handed pitcher and current Ashwaubenon High School junior, recently verbally committed to play at Division I University of Wisconsin-Madison.
She said the Big Ten Conference school was her “dream choice.”
“It feels surreal,” Herr said. “That’s the big school in Wisconsin, and it’s awesome I’ll only be two and a half hours from home – it’s amazing. Wisconsin was my first big Division I school that was interested in me. After this past summer when I found out they were interested, I took a visit. I’m grateful for the opportunity.”
Though Herr said she had fun during the recruitment process, she’s also glad it’s over.
“I’m relieved it’s over but also happy to be going where I wanted to go,” she said. “It was exciting to go through the process and visit other schools.”
Herr said she had six Division I offers.
Additionally, she said her verbal commitment to Wisconsin might drum up more support for area softball.
“Softball is big around here, but the more girls who play in college the better,” Herr said. “I think it helps other players set goals as well. It’s been awesome to have so much support from my high school, too.”
Playing softball from a young age, Herr said she didn’t think it was realistic to play in college until after her freshman year at Ashwaubenon.
“It was one of those things [when I was younger] where the coaches said, ‘Okay, if you want to pitch you can try out, and if you’re good, you’ll stay with it,’” she laughed. “I was naturally drawn to it and kept working at it. My high school coach [Shannon VanLaanen] has given me a lot of support.”
Herr, one of the hardest throwers in the state among high school pitchers, brings her fastball at speeds up to 67 miles per hour.
“It helps because I committed early,” she said. “It gives me two years to improve on things compared to where I’m at now. I hope to increase my speed – I’d like to hit 70, whether that’s during high school or college.”
Herr said she feels she has good control of her pitches, too.
“I can usually place the ball pretty well,” she said. “That’s one of the reasons I think I can be effective – I can throw hard but also throw at their hands or outside consistently.”
Herr said she has set some lofty goals for herself at the collegiate level.
“It would be amazing if I can start as a freshman, or at least have the opportunity to do so,” she said. “If I continue to improve over the next two years, and even in college, I was told I have a bright future ahead of me. Hopefully, I can make a statement when I get there.”
The Badgers finished 27-20 a season ago under the tutelage of Yvette Healy, the head coach at Wisconsin since 2010.
Healy brings an overall record of 362-237-1 to the team.
Still at Ashwaubenon
Ashwaubenon softball has a strong track record of success, including winning three consecutive WIAA Division 1 state titles from 1992-94 and another in 2006.
The Jaguars finished 21-9 overall last season and 14-4 in the Fox River Classic Conference – good enough for third in the 10-team conference.
During the last two seasons with Herr on the roster, Ashwaubenon has gone 40-18 overall.
“I’ve been playing with these girls on varsity since I’ve been five years old,” she said. “Being able to compete with them, and hopefully make it to state, would be amazing. It’s been our dream since we were little.”
Herr said there’s a “good young group of freshmen joining the team this season,” so she’s optimistic going forward.
“They are talented,” she said. “I’m excited to see what we can accomplish this year and next.”
Ironically, if the Jaguars advance to the WIAA state tournament during Herr’s last two seasons at Ashwaubenon, she’d be playing on the same field – Goodman Diamond – where the Badgers play their homes.
Herr is also a member of the Ashwaubenon swimming team and said she plans to continue with the sport her senior season, too.
“It uses a different set of muscles and keeps me in good shape for softball,” Herr said. “It’s very good for my pitching, too.”