Five players to watch
Megan Mahaffy, Crystal Lake Central
Mahaffy comes into the season off a sophomore campaign during which she cemented herself as one of the area’s top players. Although she’s working back from an ACL injury and could miss time early, Mahaffy is a game-changer whenever she is on the field. The junior hit .613 – 70 points higher than the next area hitter – with eight home runs and 24 RBIs. Mahaffy was nearly as impressive in the circle, compiling a 1.41 ERA while striking out 137 batters in 119 innings.
Alyssa Lach, Jacobs
Senior, third baseman
Lach can do it all for the Golden Eagles, whether it’s at the plate or manning third base. The senior recorded the second-highest batting average last year, hitting .543, and provided much-needed power in Jacobs’ lineup with nine home runs and had 30 RBIs. Lach is a dangerous threat every at-bat. She has proven she can hurt teams whenever she puts the ball in play, which is often as she struck out only twice last season. Lach can also provide leadership for a Jacobs team vying for the FVC Valley title.
Kristin Koepke, McHenry
With McHenry having high expectations this season, it starts with Koepke. She has a knack for striking out batters, tallying 167 strikeouts last year en route to posting a 1.92 ERA and 18-9 record. Koepke, who has committed to Evansville, will be relied on to guide the Warriors to a third consecutive regional title. After McHenry finished second in the Fox Valley Conference Valley Division with a 9-3 record last season, the Warriors, led by Koepke and Co., have the talent to win the division title.
Sam McLean, Crystal Lake South
Not exactly a prototypical shortstop as a left-handed thrower, McLean has shined for South and will again be an important cog in the Gators’ offense. Defensively, McLean has shown that she can play shortstop as well anybody, and offensively the senior is dangerous when she has a bat in her hands. McLean hit .432 last season with three home runs, 24 RBIs and a school record two strikeouts. Pitchers will have their hands full keeping her off base.
Taylor Carlson, Marengo
A four-year varsity player, Carlson is an important part of Marengo’s success. The senior catcher is coming off a solid year behind the plate and will be relied on to ease the transition to a new No. 1 starting pitcher for the Indians. Besides the leadership Carlson brings, she hit .339 last season with three home runs and 33 RBIs. For Marengo to get back to state in Class 3A, Carlson will be a key factor for the Indians this season.