Most high school athletes share the common goal of earning a scholarship from an NCAA Division I school.
Few possess the skill, work ethic and facilities necessary to make their dreams come true. While some softball players kick back and hope the WIAA season begins at some point, others like Savanna Jemilo remain hard at work in hopes of reaching the next level.
Jemilo started playing softball at the age of 6 and two years later joined a 10U club team. The Stoughton junior was named honorable mention all-Badger South Conference last season after hitting .469 (46-for-98) with a .622 on-base percentage, .888 slugging percentage, nine doubles and 10 home runs. She earned second-team all-conference honors as a freshman.
In addition to her prep season, Jemilo plays for the Deerfield-based club team, Wisconsin Outlawz Fastpitch. She was a part of the 2018 14U team that won a club state championship, and is a two-time North American Sanctioned World Series All-Star and World Series Home Run Derby Champion.
Last year, Jemilo stopped playing club volleyball so she could focus on training for softball. The third baseman/catcher also does strength sessions with University of Wisconsin Sports Performance trainers.
To gain further exposure, Jemilo posts highlight, training and individual skills videos of herself on Twitter. Highlights include game play, training videos show work done outside of games and practices, and coaches see her aptitude in hitting, fielding, bunting, arm strength and footwork in individual skills videos.
“The biggest part is making a video that shows coaches who you truly are as a player and your presence on the field,” she said.
Jemilo joined Twitter last November and has been active on the site ever since.
“I was definitely late to the Twitter party,” she said. “But after going to a camp at the University of Northern Iowa and hearing their coaches talk about it, I decided to join and use it as a recruiting platform.”
Jemilo has been on unofficial visits to Northern Iowa, Michigan State, UConn, Boston University, Brown, Columbia, Harvard, Yale, Valparaiso, Illinois State and Northern Illinois. She’s been in regular contact with Columbia, Michigan State, Wisconsin Lutheran, UW-Parkside and UW-Stout.
The NCAA extended the recruiting dead period to May 31 due to the coronavirus pandemic, meaning Jemilo cannot go on any campus visits or attend any softball camps. All she can do is communicate with coaches via phone, email or social media.
“It definitely affects juniors and uncommitted seniors,” Jemilo said. “A huge part of the recruiting process is going to camps, and if the high school season gets canceled, it’s likely camps would follow. The summer season would become even more important.”
Gov. Tony Evers’ “Safer at Home Order” extended school closures until at least April 24, meaning spring sports in Wisconsin could not start until about the first week of May at the earliest.
The WIAA Division 1 softball playoffs begin May 26, three weeks from when practices could start and only one if teams take two weeks to get ready.
“Being a part of the Stoughton softball program has been such a blessing for me,” Jemilo said. “They’re like family. If the season was cancelled, it would be devastating all around, not just in my recruitment.”