Big 12 Campus Correspondent
In many ways, the sudden emergence last season of Marla Schweisberger on the Big 12 softball scene mirrored that of the Missouri team she plays for a dream come true for all involved.
“I grew up a Missouri Tigers fan, came to all the Missouri softball camps, and dreamed of wearing the black and gold,” Schweisberger said. “Coming to Mizzou just felt so natural to me.”
A Raytown, Missouri native, Schweisberger earned Raytown South High School Female Athlete of the Year honors and was also a Wendy’s High School Heisman nominee. She also played for the KC Peppers softball club team, and helped lead the United States Specialty Sports Association All-World Team to a 2007 national championship. As her freshman season at Mizzou began, Schweisberger was ready to put her talents to use in the collegiate realm.
This proved more difficult than expected. Entrenched behind senior starters at both first base and left field, Schweisberger had only 10 at-bats in her first year with the Tigers. She made the most of these opportunities, however, and chose to spend the year learning from her older teammates.
“Katie Milles, a junior at the time, pulled me aside and told me to really learn everything you can your freshman year,” Schweisberger said. “I really took that advice to heart. Even though I wasn’t playing very much as a freshman, I could still try to make myself a smarter player by watching the older girls and learning from them every day.”
As her sophomore season began, Schweisberger knew she was ready for more responsibility. She spoke with Head Coach Ehren Earleywine, letting him know she could handle the starting lineup. He decided to give her a chance—and both Schweisberger and the Tigers enjoyed their best seasons in recent memory. Her .390 batting average stood third on her team and sixth in the Big 12, and she was named to the Second Team All-American, All-Big 12 First Team, and Academic All-Big 12 First Team.
The Tigers went on to win their Regional and Super Regional Tournaments, appear in their first Women’s College World Series in 15 years, and finish with a program-best 50-10 record. For Schweisberger, it was a whirlwind journey.
“Honestly, it was one of the most exciting experiences I’ve ever been a part of,” Schweisberger said. “I think every girl who has grown up playing softball has dreamed of playing in the Women’s College World Series, and for me to be a part of that was just something very special.”
Both Schweisberger and the Tigers are under the radar no longer. Currently ranked third in the nation, the team has adjusted to the new level of pressure.
“I think it’s a transition that this year’s team is ready and excited to take,” Schweisberger said. “We have so much experience returning from last year’s team and so much to build off of that I think the only thing that changes from last year is our expectations.”
Those expectations have certainly risen. Schweisberger and her teammates hope to not only win the Big 12 regular season and tournament, but to return to the WCWS and challenge for the national title. For Schweisberger, doing so with the team she loves would make victory even sweeter.
“The friends that I’ve made throughout my time at Mizzou are ones that will last a lifetime,” Schweisberger said. “Your teammates become like your second family. I think when I look back after I’m done playing softball at Mizzou, my teammates will be what I’ll miss the most.”