What’s in a name? Perhaps fate if one chooses the right sport.
According to MaxPreps, Couer d’Alene (Id.) Lake City senior Casey Stangel is the best softball player in America. According to most baseball historians, Casey Stengel is the greatest manager in baseball history. The question everyone wants to know is whether that is truly a coincidence or not.
As she leaves high school athletics, Stangel’s parents, Chris and Debbie Stangel, have admitted to MaxPreps and other sources that their daughter is named after the manager who launched more colloquialisms than anyone in baseball (save possibly Yogi Berra).
Stangel isn't the first prep athlete to be named after a notable Hall of Fame athlete or site. Within baseball and softball alone, she has to make room for the likes of Fenway Parks.
For her part, the senior has never seemed to care what's behind her name. She’s been too busy dominating all comers.
In her senior year, Stangel achieved the one thing she missed out on as a junior: She won an Idaho Class 5A state title. In fact, she did so almost by herself, racking up a record of 28-0 as a starting pitcher and holding a 0.73 ERA. She struck out an incredible 208 batters in just 143 innings. Meanwhile, Stangel batted .640 with 64 runs and a remarkable 15 home runs.
Crunch the numbers and Stangel accumulated a slugging percentage of 1.348, this despite drawing 21 walks.
Perhaps more important, Stangel considered her role as a team leader much more important than her performance at the plate.
"It's just such a great team ... we clicked," she said. "We started working hard in winter, kept working hard through the season. And we didn't get caught up in being undefeated. It was an awesome year and awesome team. Being undefeated is a huge thing and I think it is so very special.
"This was a huge team season, instead of individual. We're not just individuals out there, we're a team. I think we broke every school hitting record there is. It holds true -- hard work pays off."
Stangel’s name may be less of a surprise than some might imagine, given the fact that she comes from a baseball family. Her father Chris Stangel is a former professional pitcher in the Giants minor league system. Her brother currently plays for the University of Montana.
Neither of them can come close to Casey’s accomplishments as she leaves for Missouri, aiming to have a similar impact on the collegiate level. No matter how her time in Columbia turns out, one thing seems certain: Stangel’s namesake would be proud of the way she plays the game.