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Hotovec heats up at state

Senior leader helps guide Greyhounds to 8th title

File photo by Travis Rosenau New Ulm Cathedral’s Jenna Hotovec smiles after sliding into second base safely during the State Softball Tournament Semifinals against Russell-Tyler-Ruthton on June 6 at Caswell Park in North Mankato.

NEW ULM — Throughout a long high school athletic career, New Ulm Cathedral’s Jenna Hotovec couldn’t have ended her senior year any better.

On June 7 at Caswell Park, the Cathedral center fielder was able to celebrate the eighth Class A State Softball Championship in Cathedral High School history after the Greyhounds defeated Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley 10-4.

Hotovec was 4 for 5 in that championship game. Now a week removed and with a chance to soak in what the win really means, Hotovec said

“It means the world, honestly,” Hotovec said. “I know I’ve said this before, but I couldn’t think of a better way to go out senior year, and just having the support from everybody is amazing.”

Hotovec didn’t just have a standout state championship game, she was solid all season for the Greyhounds. But in the state tournament, her bat was hotter than ever.

In the state quarterfinals against Kelliher/Northome, she was 2 for 3 with two RBIs, and she was 3 for 3 in the semifinals against Russell-Tyler-Ruthton. Those games, paired with her 4-for-5 day at the plate in the state championship game, saw her finish with an .818 batting average in the state tournament.

After winning the state championship, Hotovec ended her senior season with a .366 batting average and a team-leading seven homers and 48 RBIs.

Hotovec said her team’s confidence in going all the way to the top this year started in the Section 2A finals when the Greyhounds shut out United South Central 4-0 in a win-or-go-home finals game. USC, playing out of the section’s elimination bracket, did defeat the Greyhounds 3-0 in the section finals to force a second game, but the Greyhounds rebounded in a big way and got a shutout of their own to move on to state.

“I definitely think after beating USC, the whole team had a lot of confidence because they had a super good pitcher,” Hotovec said. “But in the championship game, I kind of just had a weird, peaceful feeling. I wasn’t nervous at all, I was just at peace and calm.”

Hotovec’s state play came as the result of years of hard work fielding fly balls and taking batting practice, but she also had an angel in the outfield giving her extra support.

Hotovec, whose dad died before her junior season of softball last year, shared a moment with her mom after winning the state championship and said she knew her dad would be just as excited for her.

“When I hugged my mom, I kind of knew he’d just be proud of me and he’d probably tell me that, too,” Hotovec said. “She kind of told me that, too.”

Hotovec, who also played volleyball and basketball at Cathedral, said she appreciated all of her coaches over the years and her teammates that have helped her improve.

“The coaches have been really supportive and always been pushing us to be better,” Hotovec said. “And all of my teammates have always pushed me, too, and I think that definitely contributed to the success that I’ve had at Cathedral.”

While Hotovec enjoyed playing three sports and had success in all of them, softball was her go-to sport and she said her family helped her develop in the sport growing up.

“My dad would play catch with me or sometimes my brothers,” Hotovec said. “And it definitely helped me watching my brothers play sports because I feel like I understood the game a little bit more, so it was a mixture of both.”

Hotovec’s softball journey isn’t over yet, however, as she will play softball collegiately at Bethel University in Arden Hills, Minnesota. There, she will also study human bioenergetics with hopes of going into physical therapy or chiropractic.

“My first choice was SDSU [South Dakota State University] because I wasn’t going to play any sports,” Hotovec said. “And then kind of right around when volleyball ended, I kind of reassessed because I didn’t think that I was ready for sports to be over. So then after that, I started looking at smaller schools and Bethel just caught my eye and we went from there.”

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