Ripon High product Mackenzie Hutchinson is putting her softball career on hold.
She is currently focused on preparing for basic training with the Navy Reserve and leaves on Aug. 4. Then in the spring of 2021, she'll sign a national letter of intent and fulfill her commitment to Dordt University's softball team.
The Defenders have offered the slugging catcher an athletic scholarship to join the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics program out of Iowa. Hutchinson chose Dordt in part for its nursing program. Her goal is to serve as a hospital corpsman.
“I've pretty much known that this is what I want to do for a long time now,” Hutchinson said. “I've always planned it out, I just wasn't sure what branch I wanted to go with, but I knew I wanted to be in the medical field.
“(Dordt) is playing a big part and the scholarship will help pay for it. Getting to continue my softball career is a nice bonus.”
Dordt was having a solid season before the coronavirus lockdown, finishing 13-8.
Hutchinson and Ripon were on a little bit of a roll, too. On the heels of a historic 2019 season, the Indians dominated their way to a 5-0 start while “Hutch” was batting .636 (7 for 11) with three doubles, one homer, seven runs and six RBIs in 15 plate appearances.
Ripon had eight of its nine starters back, including Fresno State-bound Liliana Mejia and McKenna Daley, who is on her way to Dominican University.
“I was hoping (the season) would not be shut down completely,” Hutchinson said. “I was bummed out about it. We won't get a senior season, no senior night, but I know we were going to do great like we did last year.”
Hutchinson busted out in a big way last season, hitting .387 with a team-high eight home runs and 25 RBIs. She slugged a back-breaking three-run homer in the Indians' 5-1 Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV quarterfinal against Liberty Ranch. Two days later, they claimed their second section title in program history, wrapping up a 24-2 campaign with the Cal-Hi Sports Division IV Team of the Year award.
Hutchinson was named to the All-Trans-Valley League team.
“We all bonded so well and that helped us throughout the season,” Hutchinson said. “We worked as a team and played for each other. It was real fun to play with that team.”
Hutchinson was also a key member of the Ripon girls basketball team, helping it earn a share of the TVL championship. She was an all-league selection.
Hutchinson expects to feel at home once she gets to Dordt, located in the rural city of Sioux Center.
“I really do like the campus there,” she said. “I was always looking for a small school and some of my friends have gone there. It's like Ripon — a small town and a lot of people from Ripon go to Dordt.
“Right now I'm mostly looking forward to boot camp. That's something different for me.”