VILLA PARK – Motivations come from different places for athletes and for Willowbrook's Sam Schmidt, one of her motivations is the player right behind her in the lineup.
Schmidt and Alyssa Ressinger are close friends that have known each other and played softball together for years. Their friendship has also spawned a friendly rivalry between the two on the field.
They aren't shy about competing with each other for stats. It makes the job of Willowbrook coach Rachel Karos easier.
"It helps when the girls are so motivated to compete with each other," coach Rachel Karos said. "They're both so talented and there's no other girls I would rather have."
Schmidt, the Suburban Life all-area MVP, won the statistical battle this year, hitting .593 with 16 home runs, 15 doubles and 51 RBIs. For her part, Ressinger hit .484 with 22 extra base hits and 39 RBIs so in reality the real winner is Willowbrook, which is primed to be a contender next year with both players and most of its starting lineup back.
Still, Schmidt admitted to rubbing it in just a bit.
"Just a little bit," Schmidt said with a laugh. "There's no hard feelings there.
"I know whenever she would hit one I would try to hit another. We really pushed each other this year to do better."
Her ability isn't limited to the plate either. She is a very solid shortstop with good range, sure hands and a strong arm. Schmidt, who was also a forward on the Warriors' girls basketball team which won conference in the winter, is also not afraid to get down and dirty on the infield.
"I love diving plays, those are my favorite," she said. "I like to have a lot of action. That's why I like playing infield."
Schmidt is committed to Northern Illinois and even saw the Huskies play a couple times this season. She is currently playing summer ball in prep for her senior year.
With all the talent Willowbrook brings back, all four all-conference players the Warriors had this season are expected to return, she is hoping to go out with a bang before heading to DeKalb. Schmidt said the highlight of this season was the regional semifinal win against Fremd.
"Our team has come a long way these past three years," Schmidt said. "That was a big step for us and we were really excited.
"We really want to try to win conference next year and win a regional."