Burlington Central sophomore pitcher Angie Morrow first went to a University of Wisconsin softball camp when she was in eighth grade, the same year Yvette Healy left Loyola University in Chicago to become the Badgers' head coach.
Morrow continued to attend Wisconsin camps and form a relationship with Healy and her staff and in the process, the 5-foot-10 right-hander hatched a dream to one day play college softball at Goodman Diamond in Madison.
This weekend, that dream became a reality when Morrow accepted a scholarship offer from Wisconsin.
"The first time I came up here I absolutely loved the camps and the coaches were amazing," said Morrow Sunday night shortly after leaving Madison, where she gave Healy her verbal commitment on Saturday. "It's an amazing atmosphere. It just like it's a family."
Morrow, the daughter of Bill and Kristen Morrow of rural St. Charles, burst onto the high school softball scene last spring with great expectations for a freshman and she didn't disappoint. In helping the Rockets to a 28-9 season and a Class 3A regional championship, she was 15-4 with a 1.62 ERA. She had 114 strikeouts in 134 innings, only walked 16 and had a .43 WHIP. Also a top hitter who can play first base and the outfield, she hit .390 with 6 doubles, 3 triples and 21 RBI, striking out just twice in 82 at-bats.
The way Healy runs her program is what really has impressed Morrow. In Healy's first two years in Madison, the Badgers have posted 30-win plus seasons and last year Wisconsin won a program-record 13 Big Ten games and set school records in six offensive categories. In addition to Healy, Morrow, whose local pitching coach is Jill Waldron, formed a relationship with Badgers' pitching coach Tracie Adix, who pitched DePaul to the Women's College World Series during her playing days. The Badgers' other assistant coach is Randy Schneider, the former head coach at Valparaiso University.
"The way they do things is so different from what I've known," said Morrow, who carries a 3.8 GPA and was an all-Big Northern East selection last season as well as a Daily Herald honorable mention all-area choice. "They try new things all the time and they aren't afraid to fail."
Burlington Central coach Wade Maisto, an Illinois Coaches Association Hall of Famer who is in the first year of his second tenure as Rockets' coach, has a long memory when it comes to Morrow.
"I've seen her pitch some high school games but I've been watching her play since she was 10 years old and I was still coaching with the Wasco Diamonds," Maisto said. "I'm very proud for her. She's dedicated herself to this game and she's worked very hard. She had a goal to play at Wisconsin and she's done a lot of work to reach this dream."
Maisto also had to marvel at the changes in girls softball since he started coaching in the 1980s.
"When I took this program the first time I was just trying to find someone to throw strikes," he said. "It's comforting to know you have a pitcher and player of Angie's caliber. I'm excited and looking forward to the season."
It's a season that will have Morrow's dad, Bill, and Maisto's daughter, Erica, serving as Rocket assistant coaches. Erica Maisto is a former Daily Herald all-area captain who went on to pitch at Upper Iowa University and was an assistant at Geneva last year.
"They both bring a lot of knowledge and expertise to out team," Wade Maisto said.
Angie Morrow has played for her dad for the past several years with the Wasco Diamonds.
"I am so grateful to have a father and a coach like the one I have," Angie said. "Without him I would not be where I am."
And now that her college decision is made, Morrow is happy to focus on the next three seasons of her high school career. The Rockets figure to be a contender for the BN-East title again this season after finishing second to Marengo last year.
"It's so surreal," she said. "It definitely takes a load off my shoulders and I can just focus on working hard."
Central will open the season March 14 at South Elgin.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.