Carlee Parsons' brother Michael had Maria Schroeder pegged.
A few years back, before Schroeder became the bubbly, hard-hitting Lake Zurich softball star that she is today, Michael nicknamed her "Rah-Rah."
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How articulate. How astute.
Toddlers sure say the darndest things.
"He's a smart kid," Schroeder said with a laugh.
Turns out, li'l Michael was just starting to talk and apparently, like so many other people, took a liking to Schroeder. The three-syllable "Maria" proved tough, so he did the best he could at pronouncing the first name of his sister's best friend and, serendipitously, came up with the perfect nickname.
"He couldn't pronounce my name," Schroeder said. "He started calling me (Rah-Rah), and then the family started calling me that. It just kind of stuck."
It's a nickname that Schroeder, a rah-rah type if there ever was one, will likely take with her to Bradley University in Peoria.
A Daily Herald All-Area third baseman since her freshman year, the athletic junior has verbally committed to play Division I softball for the Braves, who compete in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Schroder took an unofficial visit to Bradley last fall while en route to St. Louis for a tournament with her Illinois Chill 18U squad. She then attended a camp at Bradley in January. The Braves offered her a scholarship on the trip, and three weeks later, she gave her verbal commitment.
She was also talking to Northern Illinois, Georgetown and Penn. Bradley was the first school to make her a scholarship offer.
"It's just nice knowing where I'm going to be going (to college)," said Schroeder, who reunited with her LZ teammates Monday on the first day of tryouts. "Then senior year I won't have to be applying to a bunch of different schools. I just really liked (Bradley). It has great academics, and I really like the (head) coach and all the assistants. When I was down there, I got to meet a lot of the players, and it just seemed like it had a good family atmosphere. I talked to some of my teachers and some people I know who go there, and they didn't have any bad things to say about it. They really liked it."
Bradley head coach Amy Hayes and her staff should love having Schroeder on their squad. Demonstrative on and off the field, and not bashful about showing her love of the game, the personable Schroeder has rocked out many times before an at-bat and then delivered a line drive. She's fun. She's competitive.
Mark and Mary's baby girl manufactured a 23-game hitting streak last spring, finishing the season with a .474 batting average and 19 stolen bases. Schroeder's 55 hits included 12 doubles, 4 triples and 1 home run, and she whiffed just three times. She hit .375 freshman year with 12 doubles, 9 triples, 1 homer and 12 stolen bases.
Put up those stats and they'll make you want to dance, even if you're not Maria Schroeder.
Lake Zurich's Bears have won 49 games the last two seasons, and they should win a lot again this season. Their Bradley recruit will lead a team that will also include fellow veterans Carlee Parsons, Mallory Parsons, Katie Brown, McKenna Larson, Caty Grahf and Maddie Minneci.
"We lost a bunch of key players, but the good thing is we didn't lose a lot of seniors," Schroeder said. "We have a lot of juniors that have a lot of good experience, and we've all been playing together since we've been like 10 years old. We'll be really solid on offense and defense, and I think we can go far this year."
If the Bears do, expect a lot of rah-rahs.
Rah-Rah is sure to provide her share.