Marengo senior Mariah Dionne led the Indians back to the Class 3A state softball tournament for the second time in four seasons. After placing runner-up in 2015 as a sophomore, Dionne put an exclamation point on her four-year varsity career at Marengo with the school's second state title.
After being named the Big Northern Conference East Division Pitcher of the Year in each of her first three seasons, Dionne was named the Kishwaukee River Conference Player of the Year in the inaugural season and earned Class 3A All-State first-team honors for the third time.
Those accomplishments and more earned Dionne the honor of Northwest Herald Softball Player of the Year, voted on by the sports staff. She becomes the first softball player since Johnsburg's Katie Parker (1993-1995) to be named Player of the Year multiple times after winning in 2015.
Dionne tied Illinois redshirt freshman Veronica Ruelius with a school-record 17 home runs and drove in an area-best 58 runs, hitting .461 with 13 doubles. In the circle, she was 20-5 with a 2.39 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 214 strikeouts in 158 1/3 innings.
The NAIA Southeastern University (Lakeland, Florida) commit saved some of her best pitching performances for the postseason, going 7-0 and tossing all 51 innings for Marengo with a 1.10 ERA. In the Indians' two state tournament games, she didn't allow a run in 14 innings of work.
Dionne recently sat down to talk about the season, her future plans and more.
What is your favorite professional sports team?
Dionne: Chicago Blackhawks.
What would your walk-up music be for softball?
Do you have any pregame rituals or superstitions?
Dionne: During the postseason, halfway through my pitching warmup, I'd take off my headband and put it in my back left pocket. It's just something that I did all the time. I figured if I didn't do it, I'd probably play bad, so I just kept doing it.
What is something that your family or team wouldn't know about you?
Dionne: I don't know, I'm a pretty open book. When I was really little, I looked like Shirley Temple.
What sport that you don't play would you be good at?
What is your favorite meal before or after a game?
Dionne: Grilled chicken.
What is the best piece of advice you've ever received.
Dionne: "Turn the page." I hear it from everybody, but it's what always sticks with me. If you mess up one time, you just turn the page and continue onto the next play.
What are you looking forward to the most at Southeastern University?
Dionne: At Southeastern, I'm just hoping to make a lot of friends, and go win a national championship.
What is your favorite and least favorite subject in high school?
Dionne: My favorite would have to be history, and my least favorite would have to be science. Before I went to high school, I wanted to be a physical therapist. And then I took biology, and I was like, heck no.
Who is your hero or inspiration?
Dionne: If anyone, it has to be my grandpa (Bill Dionne). He's always motivated on what he's doing, and he never gives up. There's nothing that can ever stop him.
What is your favorite movie?
Dionne: The Wizard of Oz.
What is the scariest thing that you've ever done?
Dionne: Driving in a black ice storm or bridge jumping.
Which one of your teammates made you laugh the most?
Dionne: (Junior second baseman) Anna Walsweer. She's just goofy. She doesn't think before she speaks.
Which musical act would you most like to see in concert this summer?
Dionne: I would like to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but I'll be in Indiana.
Where would be your dream vacation spot?
Do you have a most memorable home run?
Dionne: I think the one where we were playing Marian Central (in the Class 3A Woodstock North Regional final), and I tied the game in the bottom of the seventh. Without that one, I'm pretty sure that (winning state) wouldn't have happened.
Which teammate inspires you?
Dionne: There's so many of them, but I'd have to say (senior shortstop) Leah Secor. She's always trying to better herself and find ways to improve. She's always balancing so many things at a time, whether it's work, softball or school. The girl's got a handful.
What is the worst injury that you've ever had to deal with?
Dionne: My elbow tendinitis just because it never goes away and it's constantly there. My ACL was whatever. I got the surgery done and I was back to normal.
What was your favorite memory from senior year?
Dionne: (Freshman third baseman) Dani Hartmann running into the fence at the (Class 3A Kaneland Supersectional). That was the highlight of the year. (Coach Dwain) Nance was yelling," You've got room, you've got room." ... That was just a good break in the game because it was a good laugh.
What's sport moment was so huge that you'll always remember where you were when it happened?
Dionne: When I was really, really little, my parents always told me this. When Dale Earnhardt died. My family's really huge into NASCAR.
If you could change one thing about softball, what would it be?
Dionne: When you hit a home run, you don't have to touch all of the bases.