A gentle nudge.
While there are multiple reasons behind the numbers Manchester University senior second baseman slugger Laurren Ladwig has put together this season, and over her career, without the determination and pushing of teammates, the degree of what the Crown Point, Ind., native has reached may not have been met.
Junior third baseman Kate Skeens of Gas City, Ind., is an excellent example of that this year.
"Kate's always coming over or calling and saying 'Hey let's go hit … just 30 minutes'," she reflected. "She can tell if something is off, too. She'll ask me 'What's different today – what are we missing - what can I do to help?'. We talk back and forth as we're working together, too, asking each other things like 'Can you watch my back foot – what are my hands doing?' and so on.
"(Situations like Kate working me) have been a constant since (I've been at Manchester)," she added. "I wouldn't be near where I am today without my teammates. That even goes towards how I got here."
Former outfielder and Spartans' alum Emilee Liston played with Ladwig on a high school travel ball team.
"She kept telling me how great the place was," Ladwig remembered. "So, one weekend when we had a summer tournament in Wabash, I took a visit with her. It was so beautiful … leaves were on the trees; it was so green … I had had some other options for college, but they were too far from home. I wanted someplace close to my family, so I did an overnight and took a few more visits the following year but eventually decided to come to Manchester. It is and has been a wonderful decision."
The self-proclaimed outdoor enthusiast's playing resume shows someone who feels right at home. She holds the program's records for single-season (19) and career (44) round trippers and goes into the 2018 conference postseason tournament just five RBI shy of setting a new career program mark. Her round-tripper total headlines don't end with school marks, as the single-season total leads NCAA Division III and is a new conference best, while her career total is among the league's brightest, too.
Ladwig's the first to admit those numbers haven't come easy. She didn't make the team at Lake Central High School as a junior, so she had to practice hitting and fielding on her own. It paid off, as she made the varsity as a senior. The sky was the limit from there.
"I was named Most Valuable Player and set the school's single-season home run record (seven)," she said. "I knew, from that point, I wanted to play college softball.
"(When I first started at Manchester), I would get great pitches to look at since the opposing pitchers didn't know who I was," she added. "Since then, I see a lot of away pitches, and now, teams have begun to walk me a lot. I asked (head) Coach (Josh) Dzurick if that would continue and he said 'It would.' When I do get walked, I stay patient until my next chance, because I want to help the team and make something happen. I've got to credit the pitchers I'm facing … they've made me work more and more on my swing with the different pitches I'm seeing, as it gets tougher each time up."
Off the diamond, Ladwig counts the days until graduation later this month which leads to her first full-time job at Welch Packaging in Elkhart, Ind. "It's been a nice fit (for other Manchester University student-athletes), and I'm looking forward to it," she said. "I'm ready to take my education out of the classroom and into professional life.
"I hope someday to get into the retail end of sales," she added. "I'm a shopaholic. It doesn't matter … clothes, shoes, whatever. Who knows? Maybe someday I'll be working management for a Victoria's Secret or Maurices. I've also been thinking of getting into travel ball coaching at some point. I'd like to stay close (to softball)."
Looking to a future where she can give someone else a gentle nudge towards success … just as Laurren Ladwig got at Manchester University.