When they started playing together as a 10U team three seasons ago, the Algonquin Aces travel softball team struggled for wins, much less tournament championships.
Now as a 12U team, the Aces placed fourth at the USSSA World Series last week in Rockford. On the year, the team was 50-19-1 and won four tournaments.
“It was fourth place out of 44 teams,” said Mike Lehman, an Aces coach. “We were pretty pleased.”
At the World Series, Algonquin Aces players Casey Brennan and Sami Koss were named to the All-Tournament Team.
Starting out as an All-Star team out of the Algonquin Area Youth Organization in-house league, the Aces had less than 20 wins that first season. The second year saw that win total jump to a little more than 30 and they placed second in five tournaments.
“We’ve been building towards this,” Lehman said. “Our first year was pretty rough. Last year we were much improved.”
Lehman said he felt the team was going to be good this season despite a number of players moving up in age level from last year’s team.
“We had four or five strong pieces from last year,” Lehman said. “We brought in some different pieces and the kids gelled together.”
So good that they don’t even like to talk about regular-season tournaments they didn’t win.
“We didn’t bother counting our second or third places,” Lehman said. “That’s not what our goals were.”
Next year promises to be another strong showing for the Aces. Out of 11 players, 10 look to move together to the 13U level.
“The longer you keep those kids together the better they gel,” Lehman said. “As these girls get older they’re going to be more competitive.”
Aces’ roster: Maddie Gallo, Christina Toniolo, Grace Van Hyfte, Cassie Blanchard, Jessica Sanders, Danielle Trumbo, Drew Lehman, Lexi Ruiz, Kyla Lannert, Koss and Brennan. Coaches: Dave Koss, Mike Gallo, Lehman.
Fargo: Prairie Ridge’s Travis Piotrowski (120 pounds) and Dundee-Crown’s Christian Brunner (182), both juniors, placed seventh in freestyle wrestling at the ASICS/Vaughan Cadet Nationals on July 19 through 26 in Fargo, South Dakota. The most prestigious summer tournament in the nation is known in wrestling circles simply by the name of the city it is held in.
Brunner placed second in the spring in the Class 3A state tournament at 182. Piotrowski was third at state at 106 his freshman season.
• Rob Smith is a sports writer with the Northwest Herald. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.