Softball

High school softball insider: Huntley's Autumn Kasal is athlete of the week; power rankings; notes

Huntley's Autumn Kasal runs toward teammates at home plate after hitting a home run against Crystal Lake South Thursday, May 10, 2018.
Huntley's Autumn Kasal runs toward teammates at home plate after hitting a home run against Crystal Lake South Thursday, May 10, 2018.

Athlete of the Week

Autumn Kasal, Huntley, sr., SS

Kasal sealed a 15-0 win over Auburn in four innings with a three-run home run as the Red Raiders earned their fourth straight regional championship at the Class 4A Hononegah Regional. The senior shortstop went 3 for 4 with three RBIs and two runs scored. In the regional semifinals, a 12-1 win in five innings over Hononegah, she drove in two runs.

On the season, Kasal is hitting .479 with 10 doubles, two triples, 11 home runs and an area-high 61 RBIs. Kasal's teammate, Sofia Tenuta, is second with 59 RBIs.

Northwest Herald Power Rankings

1. Huntley (32-5): The Raiders won their fourth straight regional title and are looking to win their first sectional title in program history. Huntley's 32 wins are a program record.

2. Marengo (26-5): The defending Class 3A state champions battled their way to a 12th straight regional title but were knocked out by Rock Falls, 4-3, in eight innings in the sectional semifinals.

3. Dundee-Crown (19-11): The Chargers lost to Barrington, 10-0, in five innings in a Class 4A Jacobs Regional final. D-C finished second in the FVC at 12-4 and was the only FVC team to beat Huntley.

4. McHenry (14-17): For the second straight season, the Warriors claimed a regional title with a losing record. McHenry, which last won a sectional championship in 2002, now has six regional titles in the past seven years.

5. Crystal Lake South (19-7): The Gators were eliminated by McHenry, 9-4, in a Class 4A Grant Regional semifinal. South's 19 wins were its most since 2012 – when the Gators finished 21-12.

Noteworthy

Striking out: For the third season in a row, Dundee-Crown senior Sydney Ruggles led the area with 276 strikeouts in 191 1/3 innings. The Loyola commit finished her senior season with a 19-10 record, 1.83 ERA and 0.97 WHIP.

In four years, Ruggles struck out 899 batters in 706 innings, or 8.9 strikeouts per seven innings.

So long, seniors: Marengo's season came to an end with a 4-3 Class 3A Marengo Sectional final loss to Rock Falls on Tuesday, ending the year at 26-5. The defending state champions graduate four seniors: Anna Walsweer, Riley Connell, Susie Nawrot and Mariana MacCarron.

Only Nawrot is planning to continue her softball career in college at Rock Valley.

"Riley had really big shoes to fill with (two-time Northwest Herald Softball Player of the Year) Mariah (Dionne), and has done a great job pitching the last three years," Indians coach Dwain Nance said. "She works hard every day, and the girls really like her. Susie is just awesome out there in outfield. That kid's got all kinds of potential, and whatever she wants to be, she can be.

"It's tough to talk about Anna because it really doesn't seem like she's going to graduate. She's been there for years and started ever since she was a freshman. I saw her in junior high for our travel team, and I was hoping she could fill that void. I don't even know if she missed a game. I don't think in four years she ever sat."

Hurricanes honored: Marian Central's Maggie Finnegan, Jenna Golembiewski and Jamie Gatz were named to the All-East Suburban Catholic Conference team for the Hurricanes, who went 14-10 overall and 7-5 in the ESCC – finishing in third place behind Marist and Joliet Catholic.

All three will return next year, as will eight of nine starters. Second baseman Laura Black is the team's lone starting senior.

"It's been a great season," first-year coach Kurt Farnam said. "We're losing only our one starter, we've got everyone coming back, so we feel pretty good about where we're headed. We've got three freshman who do a great job driving the ball, and I can't say enough about them and how much they've grown. They've all done a great job."

What to Watch

Class 3A Grayslake Central Sectional: Prairie Ridge will play Vernon Hills for the sectional title at 11 a.m. Saturday. The Wolves last won a sectional title in 2009.

Class 4A Huntley Sectional: Huntley will meet Barrington for the sectional championship at 11 a.m. Saturday. Barrington, winners of 17 consecutive regionals, finished third at last year's state tournament.

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