Roommates on road trips, Ivy Davis has learned something about Marissa Schuld this year.
“She’s a little softer than she comes off to be,” Davis said. “She’s pretty mean-looking on the field, but she’s really nice and really funny when you get one-on-one time with her.”
That side of Schuld is showing more and more these days. The sophomore is enjoying a breakout season for Arizona softball, currently boasting a team-high .429 batting average and two homers in the designated player spot.
Schuld has at least one hit in nine of the 10 games she’s appeared in, emerging as a consistent force for Arizona as it has gotten off to a 12-3 start.
“I’m getting more opportunities and I’m just trying to take advantage of it,” Schuld said. “And trying to enjoy the game.”
Which wasn’t always easy to do as a freshman. Buried behind some talented veterans, Schuld—a two-way player—only pitched 14.2 innings and got four at-bats in 2019, a lack of playing time that she admitted was frustrating at times.
She was used to being a star player. Or, more accurately, the star player.
Schuld had the most decorated career ever at Phoenix’s Pinnacle High School, where she owns the all-time records in homers (37), RBI (177), strikeouts (617) and wins (54).
In 2018, Schuld’s senior year, she was the winning pitcher in the 6A championship game. She twirled a two-hit shutout, recorded 14 strikeouts, and clubbed a solo homer that night.
It was that kind of skill set that led her to be named the Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year—twice—and the 2018 FloSoftball National Player of the Year.
Of course, none of that mattered once she joined the Wildcats.
“Every kid that comes in here was a star player and has to kind of find out what it’s like to put the team first,” said Arizona coach Mike Candrea. “That’s a challenge sometimes, finding kids that understand that they’re just a piece of the puzzle. They’re not the entire puzzle.”
Schuld seems to understand that now, calling her freshman season “a learning experience.” She learned to “be patient and take advantage of every opportunity.”
That maturity more than anything has fueled her sophomore surge, Davis and Candrea both said.
“She’s her own worst enemy,” Candrea explained. “Once she learns how to handle the six inches between her ears, I think she’ll have more success. I think that’s the key is a lot of times you see great players that are great players in high school and obviously the level’s a little bit different. But it’s a little bit easier to have more consistency, where here it’s a challenge. The challenge is being consistent, having the same approach and been able to manufacture that good day when you’re not having a good day.
“And I think as they mature and they grow and they understand the game more and their database gets bigger, they do a better job of having more consistent quality at-bats than they do when they’re young. When they’re young, they walk up to the plate, and they sometimes don’t even have a plan.”
Schuld has one now, using batting practice to improve her plate discipline “instead of just hacking.” And while the 5-foot-3 slugger was best known for her power in high school, she is more focused on making solid contact.
Candrea said Schuld is doing a better job staying through the zone.
“See ball, hit ball,” Schuld said. “I’m not trying to overpower myself or my swing. At this point I’m just trying to get base hits.”
Softball is a game of failure, so the most consistent hitters are the ones who know how to keep their emotions in check. For Schuld, that part comes naturally.
“That’s just my personality,” she said. “People don’t think I’m the nicest person, but they can think what they want. Once they actually know me, I think they know who I really am.”
Schuld wears No. 71 as a tribute to former ASU All-American shortstop Katelyn Boyd, a friend and mentor.
Boyd wore No. 17 with the Sun Devils, but that number—and No. 7—was already taken at Arizona when Schuld arrived, causing her to pick No. 71.
“I wanted something different,” Schuld said.
Schuld grew up a Sun Devil fan and won a 6A state championship at ASU’s Farrington Stadium, so it was only fitting that she notched her first career hits there earlier this month.
Schuld went 2 for 3 with a double and homer in a win over Portland State, kickstarting the hot streak she is on now.
“I felt comfortable there,” Schuld said. “All my family was there because it’s my hometown, and I just tried to relax and stay focused.”
Sophomore Marissa Schuld is having a breakout season for Arizona Softball so far, hitting .429 with two homersPosted by AZ Desert Swarm on Tuesday, February 25, 2020