Usually when you hear about star freshmen in college, your first thought goes straight to basketball and for good reason.
Whether it’s Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, Cameron Reddish, or any player that doesn’t play for Duke, when it comes to college basketball, the best players always seem to be freshmen.
However, one former Hopkins Royal, is attempting to change the outlook for freshmen athletes in college, one hit at a time.
Natalie DenHartog to say the least, is making waves in the University of Minnesota softball program, while their entire team is making headlines.
The 2018 HHS grad has athletic blood running through her veins. Her father John, current Hopkins football coach, played football, basketball, and baseball at Luther College. Her brother JT, former Hopkins quarterback, continued his playing career for two years at University of Minnesota Duluth, and then transferred to UW-Eau Claire.
During her time at HHS, DenHartog didn’t mess around, becoming a three-time All-Conference, two-time All-Section, as well as a two-time All-Metro first team selection, and one-time All-State first team selection.
The awards didn’t stop there for the Royal legend. DenHartog is also announced as a finalist for the NFCA Freshman of the Year, the award will be announced on May 28 at the WCWS banquet.
Also, DenHartog, along with junior pitcher Amber Fiser were awarded NFCA All-Region first team. Three other Gophers, Hope Brander, Maddie Houlihan, and Makenna Partain earned second and third team honors, respectively.
DenHartog’s position is listed as utility, but her defense isn’t what is impressive, it’s that big stick she carries around.
The freshman star batted .396 with 17 home runs and 62 RBIs. Also, she had a slugging percentage of .840 and a OBP of .447.
The Gophers were seeded seventh overall in the NCAA tournament and won their opening regional round, defeating NDSU once and Georgia twice.
Minnesota will host the LSU Tigers this weekend in the Super Regionals, only two wins away from the WCWS.
DenHartog continues a legacy of remarkable athletes that come out of the Lake Conference.