Donna Lantz knew sacrifices would be in order if her daughter wanted to excel playing the game of softball. So, when Jody Lantz wanted to move six hours away from home as a high school senior so she had a better chance to catch the eye of college...
Donna Lantz knew sacrifices would be in order if her daughter wanted to excel playing the game of softball.
So, when Jody Lantz wanted to move six hours away from home as a high school senior so she had a better chance to catch the eye of college coaches, Donna felt the reward was worth what her daughter would have to give up to reach a goal she'd been striving for since her early teenage years.
"It was a good stepping stone for her to see if she was able to do it," Donna Lantz said.
Lantz, a junior third baseman for Dickinson State, turned to softball after deciding she didn't want to spend the rest of her life in a small town of St. Walburg, Saskatchewan.
As she entered her teens, Lantz chose to travel an hour across province lines and into Alberta so she could play softball.
Growing up in a town of around 800 people -- one she says is similar to the many small towns in western North Dakota -- Lantz went to a school that didn't have a softball team. For five years, she traveled to Lloydminster, Alberta, almost every day during the softball season.
That meant driving an hour, then either practicing or playing, and turning around to drive an hour home.
"It was a long evening," Donna Lantz said with a laugh.
But by her senior year of high school, Jody Lantz knew she needed more exposure if she wanted to go places in the sport.
So she ventured even further from home, living with a family friend in Calgary -- a six-hour drive from St. Walburg -- and attending and playing softball for Bowness High School, which had an enrollment nearly twice the size as her hometown.
"Softball, to me, was sort of like my way out of town. And I wanted to get out," Lantz said. "I'm not saying it's bad sticking around home, but I kind of wanted to go and do something. I knew with softball, I could get an education. So that's why I went for it."
The time she spent in Calgary helped Lantz catch the eye of college coaches. She eventually chose to attend Jamestown College. But once there, Lantz again felt she was capable of bigger and better things.
So, with both softball and finances in mind, she transferred to DSU alongside teammate Nikki Marcoux after spending just one season with the Jimmies.
At DSU, Canadians are eligible for certain financial aid programs not offered by Jamestown College, a private school with a higher tuition.
"Financially Dickinson is better," Donna Lantz said. "We couldn't have sent her there (Jamestown) for four years."
Despite driving in 50 runs and batting .408 with nine home runs as a freshman at Jamestown, Lantz has blossomed into a complete player as a Blue Hawk.
In her first season at DSU last spring, Lantz batted .366 and hit a team-best 13 home runs while driving in 33 RBI.
This season Lantz is playing an important role as the Blue Hawks have built a 27-3 record and climbed to the No. 4 ranking in the NAIA poll -- the highest in school history.
The clean-up hitter is batting a career-best .482 with a team-high 14 doubles, three homers and 33 RBI. She's batting .526 against Dakota Athletic Conference opponents.
"I'm hitting the ball hard and it's getting through most of the time," Lantz said. "Even though I haven't had as many home runs as the previous years, I still have a high average, which I'm happy with."
DSU coach Guy Fridley doesn't mind seeing Lantz's home run numbers drop since she's driving in runs and getting on base at a better clip. Along with her hitting, Lantz has drawn 12 walks, bumping her on-base percentage to .545.
"Jody hits more gaps than people think. She leads us in doubles and she's a gap hitter," Fridley said. "She's maybe not hitting with as much power as she was last year. But anytime she comes to the plate, it can be a double, a home run. She's just a very tough out for pitchers."