*Editor’s note: This team and Player of the Year were selected by the previous staff that supplied sports content to The Nonpareil
For Morgan Schaben, softball is a family tradition. The youngest of four Harlan grads — all varsity softball players — Schaben has been named The Daily Nonpareil’s Area Softball Player of the Year.
The two-way standout helped put Harlan back on the map as an area softball favorite. Schaben led the Cyclones to a 2019 postseason berth following a 27-7 regular season record. Schaben picked up 21 of those regular season wins while manning the circle for Harlan. Oh yeah, she also racked up 240 strikeouts.
Schaben’s older sister, Brooke Wilson, has been head softball coach at Harlan for the past four years. During that time, she watched her sister go from potentially great athlete to an unquestionably determined leader.
“She’s a lot of fun,” Wilson said of her sister and former member of her roster. “She has a great personality, she’s competitive, but she likes to have fun. She’s always giggling and has a smile on her face. I think that was one of the reasons she was such a great leader and one of the reasons we had so much success this year.”
Schaben had too much to offer the sport to leave her softball career in Harlan. Now, she’s developing as a pitcher for Central College in Pella, where she has known she wanted to play for at least two years.
“I emailed them to come to one of my tournaments in Iowa City,” Schaben explained. “It’s a beautiful campus and they have a very inspiring coach. It was an easy choice.”
Central’s head softball coach, George Wares, is the winningest softball coach in NCAA Division III history, according to official records kept by the NCAA.
Schaben said she has plenty of competition at Central, which she described as having an up and coming softball program.
“There’s a lot of good players and a lot of good freshmen pitchers coming in,” Schaben said. “It will definitely help keep me focused and working to play at the highest level.”
Wilson said she will miss her sister’s presence on the field at Harlan, but credits her for helping to rebuild the flailing program, which has steadily improved in recent years.
“Morgan really worked at it and I saw that jump in talent that she strived so hard for,” Wilson said. “This (season) was the most success we’ve seen in five years. Morgan was a big part of that. She made history with this program.”
Schaben relished the chance to be coached by her sister before moving on to college.
“She really pushed me to be better in the offseason,” Schaben said of Wilson. “She drove me to my pitching lessons in Des Moines. And she called all of my pitches. Even when I thought it was the wrong choice, she was always right. She’s a great coach and a great sister.”