The Kewanee High School softball team has crossed the plate 29 times through its first three games of the season on the way to an unbeaten record.

A big part of that has been leadoff hitter Dani Neuleib. The senior backstop has 12 plate appearance thus far on the year and has only recorded an out at the plate twice. Her other 10 plate appearances have resulted in three walks, a double, a home run and five singles. 

She has also driven in a team-high five runs to go with her team-leading batting average (.778) and on-base percentage (.833). She’s scored three times as well.

Neuleib will continue her softball career at Lakeland Junior College in Mattoon next year. 

For igniting the Boiler Girl offensive attack, KHS senior Dani Neuleib is the Star Courier’s Athlete of the Week.


When did you start playing softball?

 “I started playing t-ball as a kid and went on to play travel ball when I was 12 and after that I’ve been playing ever since.”

Have you always been a catcher and what do you like about it?

 “Yes. I like the defensive part and being the captain and the leader on the field and the feeling of being in control.”

What has the first week of the season been like?

 “The whole start of the week has been a lot different. We’re a lot more productive in practices. We’re all on the same page right now and it’s really nice.”

Your team was trailing 9-1 in the season opener, what were you thinking at that point?

“I thought it was gonna be a lot like last year; back then we would just give up. This year, with coach Rob, it’s been a lot more determination and effort being put into the games.”

What was it like to rally from eight runs down to win that game?

 “It was really unbelievable. I had my doubts, I’m not gonna lie, it was really surprising. It’s really nice seeing how no one gave up.”

What’s been the biggest difference between your first three years on varsity to this year?

“We have a lot more kids coming through the travel ball programs. There’s a lot more work ethic and effort being put into every rep and every practice. It’s nice to see so many girls with such good work ethic.”

What about Lakeland College made you want to attend and play softball there?

“Coach Nelson is someone that is very determined to get girls into a four-year university so I am really excited to work with him. He’s always part of a winning program; he’s always expecting so much out of all of the girls.”

Do you have any individual goals in mind this year?

“My individual goal is to lead the conference in on-base percentage again.”

What kind of team goals do you have?

“Our first team goal was to be better than last year. I think right now we’re just trying to keep our win streak going and make sure that we’re working hard and getting better.”

What is your favorite high school memory?

“It was probably hitting my first high school home run my freshman year.”

Do you have any game day routines or rituals?

“Right now I have a blow-up parrott balloon that I carry with me. Her name is Paula. She just hangs out in the dugout.”


More about Dani Neuleib

Favorite class –– Anatomy

Favorite music genre –– Alternative

Favorite team –– Oregon

Favorite baseball or softball player –– Jen Schroeder

Favorite movie –– Jaws

Family –– Parents; Jenny Boelens, mom and Kevin Neuleib, dad. Younger brother; Carver

Other sports –– Tennis 

Area of study in college –– Physical therapy