GREAT FALLS – A weakness on the 2018 team could be turning into a strength for the University of Providence softball team with the signing of NCAA Division II transfer Skyla Neubauer. Neubauer is coming to UP after being a two-year starter at Minot State.
“She’s fast, she’s got a strong arm, she’s a left-handed batter, and she’s kind of a powerhouse,” UP head coach Joey Egan said. “She’s just an all-around great person. She’s not only going to bring greatness to the field and to the classroom but just in terms of personality.”
Over her two years at Minot, Neubauer played in 96 games, all but one of which she started in the outfield. During the 2018 season, she hit .239 with one home run, two triples, and nine doubles.
Last year, the Lady Argos were so thin in the outfield that the team at times had two catchers and a career infielder as its three starters. Neubauer will help solve that, after finishing her sophomore season with a .985 fielding percentage that includes 61 putouts and just one error.
Egan also got to see her new signee as an opponent early in the 2018 season when the Lady Argos played a doubleheader against the Beavers. Minot won both games and Neubauer went 2-7 with a double and three putouts in the two games.
“I got to see her firsthand, playing for Minot, and it was an easy decision after that, knowing that I wanted her,” Egan said. “She had that mentality and she knows how to play. Her dad has brought her up from a young age to be a gamer and a good athlete.”
Neubauer’s dad, Mike Neubauer, is a big part of the softball player’s development. He is the head coach for Belgrade High School and has led the team to the Class A State championship in each of the past two years. Getting closer to her family, including her sister, Shania Neubauer, who plays volleyball for Montana State University-Northern factored in Skyla’s decision.
“I’m a homebody and this is a lot closer to my family,” Neubauer said about the move. “I got to see dad win both the state titles, but Minot is a long way away and now he’ll get to see me and Shania a lot more.”
Like her sister, Skyla Neubauer is also a volleyball player, starting at libero for Belgrade and playing as a DS for Minot during her freshman year.
As a high school softball player, Neubauer was an all-state outfielder and finished her senior season with the second-best batting average (.545) in the state.
Neubauer will join a UP roster that is returning seven players from the state of Montana, including Lewistown’s Carly Southworth, who helped convince Neubauer to join her in Great Falls.
“She definitely reached out to me when I told her that I was thinking about it. She was like ‘Come here, everybody’s awesome,’” Neubauer said. “At Minot, there weren’t any girls from Montana and Montana is just set apart in my eyes, so it’s great to have other Montana girls on the team.”
Signing those in-state players is a priority for Egan, who once was also a Montana high school product that stayed in-state at MSU-Billings.
“I love Montana kids. I know that opportunities aren’t always as strong for Montana kids as they are for kids from other states, so to get a big roster of Montana kids is important to me,” Egan said.