When Madi Schreyer used to pitch for the Lady Falcons of Woodinville, she had her trademark routine. She’d peer in toward catcher Alex Boyd, spin the ball on her right hip and then fire a bullet toward the plate. By the time she graduated in 2013, she was hailed as the best pitcher to have played for that powerhouse program.
She’s now been gone a year, having just completed her first season with the Stanford Cardinal. Whether she was ready or not, she became the workhorse on the staff despite being a freshman. She acquitted herself admirably, compiling a 22-14 record with a 3.70 ERA.
When asked about it, she acknowledged the workload was a surprise.
“I definitely wasn’t expecting it,” Schreyer said. “Our other pitcher [Carley Hoover] had an injury and so I had to take over. I took it on with no problem and bit the bullet. I knew my team was behind me the whole way. It definitely wasn’t smooth, but I was never shocked when I got there. It was definitely a learning experience, and having to be strong both physically and mentally.”
Given the sterling history of Stanford softball, the 2014 season was a disappointment. The team missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1997, compiling a 30-25 record overall, and a dreadful 5-19 in Pac-12 play.
David Cohn of the Stanford Daily wrote that Schreyer “consistently displayed a maturity well beyond her years.” But he also added: “Nevertheless, while Schreyer [and two position players] worked to keep the rotation afloat, the Cardinal offense would often have to out-slug its competition in order to win.”
“The intensity and fast pace of the game is much different at this level,” Schreyer said.”Because all of these girls are the best of the best, you know? Adapting to that and picking up my speed of the game and staying strong mentally [was a necessity]. I learned about myself both as a person and a player this year.”
Off the field, Schreyer found life at Stanford to be challenging and rewarding. She loves California.
“The campus is really big and everybody lives on campus which isn’t really typical for colleges,” she said. “So everyone calls it the ‘Stanford bubble.’ I like it a lot. It’s a very academic school and that’s why I chose to be there. The hardest transition was being away from home and away from my family. And also in the classroom, it was very different from high school. The classes are very independent and require you to put in a lot of your own studying and work and dedication and time.”
But the whole process was made easier given the camaraderie on the softball team. “I love all the girls, we get along very well,” she said. “We’re basically like sisters. So it was basically like having that second family away from home. It sounds kind of cliché, but it’s really true.”
Meanwhile, 850 miles to the north, her former Woodinville team had an outstanding season in 2014.
“I was really busy, but I was talking with [current Falcon] Alyssa O’Farrell and some of the other players and I kept tabs on them when I could,” Schreyer said. “They got fifth in State which is awesome, so they’re continuing to keep that legacy alive. I’m really proud of the girls.”
One of those Falcon girls, freshman pitcher Olivia Riener, tweaked her own pitching style late in the season. In the midst of delivering pitches to the plate, Riener began spinning the ball on her right hip.
“That’s really funny!” Schreyer said upon hearing that tidbit. “That’s awesome.”