Ruby Kappeler remembers when she was just a sophomore in high school and Coe College softball coach Diane Meyer made regular appearances at Durant softball games.
Sure, Kappeler knew Meyer was likely there to see some of the upperclassmen on what has perennially been one of the state’s top softball teams over the last handful of seasons.
Even so, Meyer took the time to talk to Kappeler after nearly every game.
“I think that’s what opened my eyes about playing softball in college,” Kappeler said. “She was always at our games years after that and would send things in the mail to me. She made efforts to come to volleyball games and all of that.
“That opened my eyes and got me interested.”
The bond those two created won’t stop anytime soon, either, as Kappeler announced her intention to play softball at Coe College in Cedar Rapids on Twitter.
“I had other schools looking, but during my senior year she’s been more focused on me,” Kappeler said. “I felt like that’s where I needed to be.”
Kappeler was an integral part of a Durant softball team that was 36-3 last summer and held the No. 1 ranking in Class 2A for much of the season. She had a .305 batting average, .491 slugging percentage, two home runs, 27 RBIs and 10 stolen bases. She’s been a starter since her eighth-grade season.
The Durant standout also had 43 putouts compared to just two errors from center field last season. She won’t play there at Coe, at least not right away, but anticipates she will play somewhere in the outfield to start off.
“They will have a senior from Highland (at center field) when I come in,” Kappeler said. “I’ll play either left or right.”
Outside of feeling wanted by Meyer, Kappeler was also sold on the program after her campus visit, which featured a tour of the facilities and an opportunity to talk with current and former players.
“They have a brand new gym and weight room, and it’s really, really sweet,” Kappeler said of Coe. “You don’t have to walk outside much in the winter so that’s a big advantage.”
Hearing about the positive experiences of current and former players on her visit helped, but hearing it from somebody she knows made a major difference. Former Durant standout Gretchen Lilienthal, who played for Coe College and Meyer, helped sway the decision.
“My mom talked to her a couple of times,” Kappeler said. “(Lilienthal) said she really enjoyed Diane (Meyer) and the coaching staff. That helped.”
However, Kappeler still has eight months and one softball season yet to play for new Durant coach Kevin Kaalberg before heading to Cedar Rapids. Kappeler believes the new coach will be a big help as she looks to improve her hitting.
“I’m definitely looking to improve hitting,” Kappeler said. “Always hitting. I struggled a bit last year with that.”
She’s proven to be capable of more at the plate in years past, though, as she had a .431 batting average and a .647 slugging percentage with 5 home runs and 29 RBIs as a sophomore.