Once bitter rivals, Erika Rozell and Kylie Stober are now collegiate teammates.
Rozell attended Lakeville North High School, while Stober attended the school’s crosstown nemesis, Lakeville South.
Now a pitcher-catcher duo for the Gophers, the freshmen have settled their high school differences to play for Minnesota.
“I never really liked playing against her. We were never friends back then because we were rivals, but now we’re really good friends. And we’re both competitive, so it’s fun to put it together,” Rozell said.
While the future roommates have grown to become friends, past experiences still haunt Rozell.
Last year, Lakeville North was the only undefeated class 3A team in the regular season and was virtually a shoo-in for a state title bid.
“It was difficult because my team didn’t make it to state. We kind of choked in sections,” Rozell said.
While Lakeville North missed the cut, its rival won the section and eventually beat Maple Grove in the state championship game.
“It was exciting to be able to end my high school career on a high note,” Stober said.
While Stober won the state title, Rozell still possesses accolades that Stober doesn’t.
“I give her crap about [the state title] every once in a while, but she comes right back with the, ‘I won Ms. Softball Minnesota.’ It’s kind of even with the trash talk back and forth,” Stober said.
While the two have built a strong bond off the field, their partnership on the field is more distinct.
“I think we have chemistry on and off the field. I just know that she trusts me, and I trust her. It’s fun to do it together,” Rozell said.
Many times, Rozell catches while Stober is in the circle, and they share chemistry playing together.
“I love it when she catches for me. I think that since we are such good friends off of the softball field, [it] really helps when we’re playing together. We just know what each other are thinking,” Stober said.
And although they’re freshmen, Stober and Rozell have made an immediate impact.
Stober has solidified herself as one of Minnesota’s top pitchers with an 8-1 record and Rozell’s perfect 1.000 fielding percentage is tied for conference best.
“I think they’re just doing what they can to help the team,” said head coach Jessica Allister. “We talk a lot about, ‘What can you do today to make the team better?’ and they’ve done a nice job of that.”
And the dynamic started after the high school state championship last season, when their high school rivalry officially ended and a friendship was born.
“I think [the first time playing together] was more exciting than awkward because we both knew we were pretty good and that we could do something big here together,” Rozell said.