OSKALOOSA — This week’s featured softball player is Oskaloosa junior Ava Morgan Vande Wall. Vande Wall is the daughter of Joe and Misty Vande Wall.
Vande Wall is number 20 on this year’s softball team and primarily plays first base. Vande Wall has also ventured out into the outfield a couple of times this year to play center field.
Vande Wall was born on May 11, 2001, in Oskaloosa and has lived in Oskaloosa her whole life.
Vande Wall began playing t-ball around the age of five and played for many traveling teams including the Oskaloosa Blaze, Oskaloosa Rebels, and Sweet Heat. Vande Wall played a handful of positions for these teams including first base, center field, and shortstop.
Vande Wall accomplished many tournament wins with these teams, and remembers playing in the World Series with the Blaze.
“When we were 12u, we got second place at the World Series,” Vande Wall said. “It was kind of like a vacation. We went to Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun. When it came to game time I was pretty confident, I hit well, and I won MVP.”
Vande Wall experienced another MVP-like moment during her first year on the softball team back in 2016.
“My favorite moment of my softball career so far is getting the game-winning hit in the state championship game,” Vande Wall said. “I was super nervous but excited at the same time. I was just trying my best to contribute to the team. After the hit, I was super excited and shed some happy tears.”
As we’re nearing the end of the season, Vande Wall still has a goal she’d like to reach.
“A goal I’d love to reach is to make the state tournament,” Vande Wall said. “I believe we can do it because we’ve beaten almost team that’s in the bracket. I think on any given night we can beat the best teams in the bracket as well.”
Vande Wall has been a part of the softball team since her eighth-grade year and has made new and lasting friendships along the way. As for whom she would want by her side during a zombie apocalypse, she chose current teammate Taylor Wills.
“It would have to be Taylor because she recently just split her mouth open, so I know she can take a hit,” Vande Wall said. “She’s just really tough.”
Vande Wall couldn’t forget to mention the love she has for her former teammate Alexis Groet and said she’d be ecstatic if Groet could play another season for the Indians.
“Alexis is such an amazing teammate,” Vande Wall said. “Not only would she help the team mentally, but she was an amazing pitcher and helped us close out games.”
Vande Wall is a person who’s always smiling and sharing a laugh with friends and teammates. The one person who she always turns to when she needs a good laugh is teammate Kiara Bjornson.
“Kiara has a laugh that is super contagious,” Vande Wall said. “She always gets everyone around her to laugh and puts everyone in a good mood.”
As for Vande Wall’s pregame rituals, she takes a different turn than most people and listens to classic rock. She loves classic rock because she grew up listening to it and the songs are different and not repetitive. Her favorite snack to eat after games is Taco Bell, more specifically Chalupa’s.
Besides playing in front of the wonderful fans at Oskaloosa, Vande Wall loves playing at the softball field on the University of Iowa campus.
“It’s so cool to play there,” Vande Wall said. “The diamond is so beautiful and it’s cool because it’s a D1 college field.”
Vande Wall keeps busy in the athletic world, as she participates in bowling and golf for Oskaloosa. Vande Wall said bowling has always been interesting to her.
“I love bowling because it’s so laid back,” Vande Wall said. “It’s kind of a hobby sport but it can also get really competitive.”
Besides sports, Vande Wall loves to read, hang out with friends and her boyfriend Ben Hunt, and bowling (not competitive).
As Vande Wall is entering her final season of high school, she said her favorite memory came just this past year at the state basketball tournament.
“Ashley Kindley, Meghan Moorman, Kaylee Johnson, Coach (Jay) Harms, Linda Harms and I got to sit courtside for the championship game,” Vande Wall said. “We were ambassadors so there wasn’t much time to explore Des Moines, but we did order pizza one night in the hotel room.”
Vande Wall also acknowledged one teacher who has helped her and provided guidance during hard classes.
“My favorite teacher is Mrs. Sterner, I really like her,” Vande Wall said. “Not only does she make fantastic cookies and cupcakes for her classes, but she’s super nice and helped me in AP Literature which is a hard class.”
To end the interview, Vande Wall shared a quote that means a lot to her. The quote goes, “enjoy the little things.” This quote reminds her that sometimes the little things are important, not just the big results.