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Future Badger Paytn Monticelli now a two-time Gatorade POY

Future Badger Paytn Monticelli now a two-time Gatorade POY
Paytn Monticelli is ready to make an impact for Badger softball. (Credit: Paytn Monticelli/Wisconsin Athletics)

MADISON, Wis. (BVM) — Paytn Monticelli is the prototypical athlete that sets her mind on a goal and is driven to accomplish it. With her drive and athletic abilities, her goal of becoming a collegiate athlete is rapidly approaching.

Growing up, Monticelli never really played sports. But when she moved to Wisconsin, the idea of participating in athletics became a fascinating idea to her. And although she tried different sports, one sport stuck out above the rest: softball.

“I started playing volleyball, basketball and softball when I was about 9 years old,” Monticelli said. “Honestly, I think I went down the right path because I was not very good at volleyball or basketball.”

Not only did she find the most joy in softball, but her parents also helped shape her athletic skills in the sport.

“My dad was a big part, and my mom was a special part of that as well,” Monticelli said. “She’s a PT, so she took very good care of me when I’d get hurt. My dad was my first catcher which was huge. My dad [also] was really the big pusher to become great in my sport. He really motivated me to become the player I am today.”

Despite having the necessary means to play the sport, it would take a while for Monticelli to show what she was truly capable of. Thanks to the Cedarburg Crush FastPitch program, she took her game to another level. 

“She could throw it fast, but you didn’t know where it was going at times,” Cedarburg co-head coach Mark Jessup said. “But that [was one thing] that motivated her to get better.”

Monticelli continued to put in the hard work, and by the time she was a freshman at Cedarburg High School, her skills began to blossom.

“Even as a freshman, she would have games where she’d strike out 15 and walk eight,” Jessup said. “You knew the ability was there…but she didn’t back down from anybody and kept working at it. [And] she’s never satisfied. She [also] has a tremendous work ethic.”

Everything started to take off for Monticelli during her junior season. In fact, she received her first call before she could even get out of bed. 

“I received my first phone call at 6:30 a.m. on Sep. 1 of my junior year,” Monticelli said. “It was my first time ever speaking to a college coach.”

It wasn’t long after that that Monticelli made her decision on where to continue her softball career. 

“Wisconsin had always been my favorite,” Monticelli said. “We’ve lived in Wisconsin for 11 years now, so I’m pretty much a Wisconsinite. It’s awesome to be a homegrown Badger. I know so many people in Cedarburg that are Badger fans, and it’s really cool to play for my home state.”

Monticelli would finish her junior year on a high note as well. She was awarded the 2020-21 Gatorade Wisconsin Softball Player of the Year. In the circle, she had an overall record of 13-2 and an ERA of 0.71. Monticelli also struck out 293 batters, breaking Cedarburg’s single-season record. She only needed 98⅓ innings to break it.

As she began her senior campaign in the circle, Monticelli’s mindset of never being satisfied kicked in once again. During her senior campaign, Monticelli helped lead the Bulldogs to the Division 1 quarterfinals. Through 28 games, she had an overall record of 17-2 and had an ERA of 0.33. She also struck out 303 batters in 126 innings of work. 

She also broke another record en route to having another outstanding season. That record happened to be the career strikeout record for a career at Cedarburg. She only needed two and a half years to accomplish the feat. 

“The strikeout record had been on my mind pretty much since freshman year,” Monticelli said. “But my initial goal was 700, and I blew past that and went to 800 and something. It was cool to break it my senior year, but I think I would’ve broken it in my junior year if I had my sophomore season.”

She found herself in the running for Gatorade Wisconsin Softball Player of the Year yet again, and this time she was prepared to win it and was ready to use the award to give back. 

“Last year, when I won it, I was very excited because I was only a junior, Monticelli said. “This year, I was very excited too, but I know that I have more planned of what I want to do with the money Gatorade gives to their winners. I am donating the $1,000 grant to Globall Giving. They donate used sports equipment to less fortunate countries around the world.”

Monticelli also gives back to her community by helping as a softball coach. And those around her have felt her impact in this short time. 

“What she and her teammates have done the last couple of years has really put Cedarburg softball back on the map,” Jessup said. “These other girls who are just starting say, ‘I can’t wait to be on the field like Paytn.’ What she does and what others are doing, it inspires, and it has a positive impact on the girls that are starting to play softball.”

No matter what happens next for Monticelli, she hopes she has left a lasting legacy that will be remembered by those who continue to come through the Cederberg softball program. 

“My personal goal was to leave a legacy behind at Cedarburg,” Monticelli said. “I wanted to really leave a legacy of excellence for the girls coming through the program. I am coaching for the Cedarburg Crush program, and I remembered when I was in their shoes and looking up to high schoolers.”

But Monticelli is now focused on her future career with the Wisconsin Badgers.  And along the way, she has formed some unique relationships with future teammates, including Emily Bojan and Ava Kuszak. 

Monticelli is ready to help the Badgers win however she can. And she believes that she and her future teammates can duplicate the success they’ve all had at the high school level. 

“I expect us [Class of 2022 recruits] to have an impact right away,” Monticelli said. “We have seven girls in our recruiting class that play a key role on the team.”

“To know that I’m a final product of the state and I’m going to continue to represent the state post-high school is amazing,” Monticelli said. “I just want to have an impact as much as possible. If that’s sitting on the bench and cheering on my team, I’m fine with that because I want to be a great teammate and an all-around good player and person.” 

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