Hard work + talent = college softball for Hononegah athlete Dani Franz


On Friday, November 10, 2023, Danielle Franz sat in the Hononegah Metal Gym flanked by her family and friends. All those around her watched as she signed a national letter of intent to attend Lindenwood University in St Charles, Missouri.

The Hononegah Indian multi-sport athlete is a three-time NIC-10 1st-team All-Conference catcher on the softball field. She has also played travel softball for the Silver Hawks Dennison Fastpitch organization for the last three years.

When Dani plays for Lindenwood University, she gets to play her home games at the Lou Brock Sports Complex in St Charles. Last season (2022-33), Lindenwood was 16-32 on the season and just 8-15 in the Ohio Valley Conference. The Lindenwood Lions has a 2023-24 roster that will be losing 9 seniors and grad students after this season.

Franz has been a big part of Hononegah's success on the basketball courts and the softball fields over the last few years. Last year, she was part of the undefeated conference champions in both basketball and softball. On top of that, she was able to give back to the community with her teammates as they provided support and love to the Old Stone Church.

Speaking with Dani Franz’s coach at the Silver Hawks Dennison Fastpitch organization, coach Lauren McNulty stated, “I don’t know exactly where she will play at Lindenwood but she can be a catcher, first or third baseman and play in the outfield.... Trust me, I know the staff at Lindenwood. If she can hit they will find a place for her.” 

I then asked Coach McNulty about what Franz brings off the field to Lindenwood. Over the phone, I could feel McNulty gusting with pride when she said, ”Mental toughness and strength, a very even keel approach, and willingness to learn. She also understands that she can control what she can control.”

The recruitment process for Lindenwood and Dani Franz started with a tournament in Salem, WI a couple of years ago when the assistant coach for Lindenwood who is from the Salem, WI area decided to look at a local softball event when she was home visiting. The coach noticed Dani and the courtship of recruitment began.

The final point Silver Hawks Dennison Fastpitch coach Lauren McNulty wanted to make: why Danielle Franz was able to gain a D1 softball scholarship. “Her strong academics and her competitive drive.”

Lindenwood has 30 sports competing at the NCAA level. These include baseball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, football, men's and women's golf, men's and women's soccer, softball, men's and women's swimming and diving, men's and women's tennis, men's and women's indoor and outdoor track and field, women's volleyball, and men's wrestling. All sports compete at the NCAA Division I level.

Lindenwood University Mission Statement says, "It is the mission of intercollegiate sports at Lindenwood University to advance learning, enlivens campus life, develop leadership skills, and foster the personal growth of the student-athlete through offering a high-quality athletics program. Athletic department personnel strive to provide model programs that develop meaningful standards of scholarship, athletic performance, leadership, community service, and sportsmanship. Through sports, Lindenwood seeks to contribute to a sense of collegiate identity and positive perception in the community. The Athletics Department shall strive for excellence in the competitive environment in accordance with the philosophy, rules, and regulations of the NCAA and other sports governing bodies in which Lindenwood has membership."

Thank you to Danielle Franz for so many wonderful contributions to our community. Please don’t be a stranger in our community when you head to Lindenwood.

More thanks goes out to many people for this article, including Silver Hawks Coach Lauren McNulty for the information for the story and use of the images of Danielle in a Silver Hawks uniform, Hononegah AD Andrew Walters
for the invite to the signing, and Jean Seegers for providing the wonderful pictures of the signing event.

Follow Danielle Franz on Instagram HERE.

A self-described sports evangelist, Harold Bone is the Roscoe News sports editor who is committed to finding stories behind-the-box scores and discovering engaging sports content. Harold has a background in many forms of media - everything from radio to TV. He has spent the last 25-plus years attending, following, and cheering for teams and athletes from the pros and colleges to local high schools and youth recreational leagues. Harold is passionate about creating engaging stories for athletes and sports fans in the Rockton/Roscoe/South Beloit, Illinois communities. Contact Harold via email at harold@roscoenews.com and follow him on Twitter at @SPRTSEDRRNews. Sign up for the Daily Rockton-Roscoe News newsletter HERE

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