All the hours have been put in, all the energy spent, and now it’s all paid off for one ADM softball star.

In front of a crowd of friends, family, and coaches, senior Abbie Hlas officially signed her collegiate letter of intent to play softball for Winona State University next year. It was a joyous feeling for everybody.

“It’s absolutely amazing and I’m so glad that I was able to be a part of that with her and experience things alongside her,” began ADM head softball coach Jody Doty. “She’s such a great athlete and an inspiration to all.”

It’s a goal of almost every athlete that steps on a field, diamond, pitch, or hardwood. The goal to make it to the next level and for Hlas, she did just that. Sometimes the entire process, complete with a plethora of interested schools, can be a lot, dare say overwhelming. It was a process that had its ups and downs for Hlas.

“It’s an exciting time yet also kind of a hard time,” began Hlas. “The coaches don’t know who you are especially coming from Iowa and you have to make yourself known. Once you can get on people’s radars, then that’s when the fun starts to happen.”

While the process may have started that way for Hlas, it became clear really quickly that Winona State was the right fit for her.

“There’s a lot of things that play into it but the coaches up there are amazing, coach Jones is amazing,” began Hlas. “He showed me around campus and has been so supportive. It just felt like home up there and that was a big part of it, how things felt.”

The feel was right from the get-go and come next season, the Wazoos will receive what coach Doty mentioned as a diamond in the rough. That might be an understatement concerning the multi-tooled star whose decision to Winona State University also hinged on the usage of all Hlas’ talents.

“Throughout my whole college search, I’ve tried to decide what I want to do whether I pitch or hit,” began Hlas. “I’ve been trying to get a good feel about what coaches will need in the upcoming years. I don’t like to sit on the bench a lot so if there’s an open spot available, I’d like to try and take it.”

Peaking into the future just a bit, there will be an open shortstop position for Winona State during her upcoming collegiate freshman season.

Ever since her freshman campaign, Hlas has shown utter dominance inside the circle and at the plate. For three straight seasons, Hlas has produced at least 148 strikeouts and a batting average of at least .358. For the last two seasons, in particular, the now senior has paced the Tigers in RBI (34 & 34). Hlas has showcased extreme power in both areas, producing at least 22 extra-base hits with the bat while holding opposing teams to a batting average of .176 or less the last two seasons inside the circle.

Hlas’s talents go far beyond just her physical skill, but also in the way she leads teammates, something that’s been extremely evident.

“She commands them (teammates) to be better every day,” said coach Doty. “She demands to be a leader and she commands that presence and I’m so proud of how she handles herself and leads her team to victory more times than not.”

The signing was a great moment for Hlas but now comes the long offseason and other sports for the senior. Hlas will be part of the varsity starting lineup for the Tiger girls’ basketball team before the thought of softball comes to mind. When she does get the chance, Hlas and the Tiger softball squad will be seeking to get a state tournament berth for a second time in three seasons.