BEMIDJI -- A constant behind the plate for the Bemidji High School softball team officially has plans for after she leaves her post for the final time.
Emma Stanoch committed to St. Scholastica on Friday at the high school, a choice that became clear once she visited campus.
“I really like the Duluth area,” Stanoch said. “When I went on my visit with the team, they all made me feel at home. I knew it was the right choice just because they all welcomed me and were really nice. They encouraged me to come.”
The senior catcher still has a season left with the Lumberjacks, but BHS head coach Brad Takkunen has seen that Stanoch has what it takes for the collegiate level.
“She’s a competitor. She’s skilled at the catching position, and she just loves the game,” Takkunen said. “Those are three pretty good things. And in the classroom, she does a very nice job academically. That’s why they go to school, but this just allows them an opportunity to continue the athletic component, as well.”
The Division III Saints went 23-16 in 2019, their 11th straight winning season -- all of which included at least 22 victories. So Stanoch is making sure she’s getting ahead of the game.
“I’m training a little harder in the offseason to prepare myself more for a harder offseason next year,” she said. “I’m trying to finish out strong (here).”
Bemidji finished the 2019 season with a 16-9 record and a spot in the Section 8-3A championship series. Stanoch compiled a .294 batting average on the year, which included five home runs and 23 RBIs, as a mainstay as the No. 5 hitter in the lineup.
“When you look at the stats at the end of the year, a lot of the (intangibles) are there,” Takkunen said. “She’s coming through in times when you need her. She seems to rise up to some of those bigger moments… and gets the big hit.”
Despite what she’s already shown, however, Takkunen expects Stanoch to step up even more during her last hurrah with the Lumberjacks.
“(We need) the best that she can give, better than the last couple years,” he said. “We’ve lost some pretty big pieces. Some of these seniors are going to have to step up, including her. She can set the tone for some of the younger kids that are going to have to fill in.”
Stanoch is ready to face that head on.
“We emphasize taking responsibility for what you do and stepping up when you need to be a leader,” she said. “If I can bring that (this year), it will help a lot more to bring me to the next level.”