Sisters reunite on Mean Green softball team

Sisters reunite on Mean Green softball team

Sisters reunite on Mean Green softball team
February 10
00:24 2015

Alex Lessard / Staff Writer

To cap off a day of hard work on a brisk, windy afternoon, the Mean Green softball team ran laps along the outskirts of Lovelace Field. Players simultaneously shouted words of encouragement until the last one finished.

The team’s roster features many new faces, including two that look quite similar. Sisters Jami and Kelli Schkade transferred to North Texas this summer after playing at the University of Illinois and the University of Missouri respectively, both several hundred miles from home.

“We would call each other almost every day and say, ‘Why did we do this? Why didn’t we try to go to the same college?’” Jami said. “We could be playing together right now, working through all the hard stuff.”

The Schkade sisters were raised in Tomball, a suburb outside of Houston. Halfway through Jami’s sophomore year of high school, the family moved to the small town of Albany, Texas, where the sisters would go on to play a number of sports together, including volleyball, track and softball.

Jami, now a junior infielder for the Mean Green, played two seasons with Illinois and was named to the Big 10 All-Defensive team after going errorless in 34 starts at second base as a sophomore. She sat out the entire 2013-14 season due to an injury suffered in practice.

“That’s when I decided to graduate early,” Jami said. “I was talking to Kelli at that time. We were looking for a new school.”

Kelli had just finished her freshman season at Missouri, where she started 30 games at second base, third base and outfield. In her senior year of high school, Kelli batted .718 with 82 RBI and earned Class 1A All-State recognition.

When they were at separate schools, Jami and Kelli knew there was something missing, and looked to start fresh and move closer to home. Mean Green head coach Tracey Kee originally heard about the duo when one of their summer coaches from Tomball contacted her in search for a school with roster openings.

“I had always heard the rumor that when Texas kids go away to school, a lot of times they don’t like it,” Kee said.

After setting a school record with 31 wins last year in her first season with the Mean Green, Kee said she didn’t hesitate to add even more talent to improve her squad.

“I don’t like to build a program on transfers, but there was no way I would turn down this opportunity to have these sisters in our program,” Kee said.

The siblings also have experience playing on the field together. In high school, Jami played shortstop and Kelli played second base, two positions that require great chemistry with one another. That was never a problem for the sisters because they know each other so well.

“We just click,” Kelli said. “We know where each person is going to be at all times, we know what play they’re going to be able to make to cover what bag. We just flow together.”

Kee said that Jami and Kelli look like they are enjoying their time at North Texas so far, and are positively influencing the team.

“I think the thing that I appreciate the most is they’re having fun together,” Kee said. “I think they enjoy the sport, and I think we’re getting some carryover through our entire squad with that.”

Kee said the sisters are hard-working, diligent and fun to be around. Their competitive personalities shine during practices, especially while running the laps, she said.

“That helps me in the fact that anytime I’m slacking and see someone ahead of me, it makes me want to work even harder to be in that position to play,” Kelli said.

Jami and Kelli were raised in a softball family. Their older sister played softball throughout high school and had multiple college offers, but decided to end her softball career after having three different shoulder surgeries.

Before this season, it was extremely difficult for the Schkade family to be there in support of Jami and Kelli. Now their family can come to games close to home and see both sisters playing for the same team, just like old times.

The Mean Green went 2-3 in its first action of the season last weekend at the North Texas Invitational. Kelli started all five games and Jami started in three, combining for a total of 6 hits in 21 at-bats and 3 RBI.

“We’re all each other’s best friends,” Jami said. “They’ll all be here.”

Kelli said spots aren’t guaranteed and both will have to work for more playing time, but also said it feels good being home.

“Everyone is very excited to be back in Texas,” she said.

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Junior infielder Jami Schkade hacks a pitch during the game against Boise State University on Feb. 7. Schkade was 1-for-2 at the plate and scored a run in the win at Lovelace Field.

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Sophomore infielder Kelli Schkade steps into the batters box and awaits the pitch. Shkade hit in the lead-off spot and went 2-for-3 against Boise State University on Feb. 7.

Featured Image: Mean Green softball began last weekend. The team finished the North Texas Invitational with a 2-3 record. Photos by Tom Gonzalez – Staff Photographer

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