High school softball: 2019 season team previews

Marian Central's Maggie Finnegan runs the bases behind Crystal Lake South's Baylee Kassel during a game last season.
Marian Central's Maggie Finnegan runs the bases behind Crystal Lake South's Baylee Kassel during a game last season.

Fox Valley Conference


Coach: Tammy Olson (26th season)

Last year’s record: 15-13 overall, 6-10 FVC (sixth)

Top returners: Emma Hill, sr., P-1B; Alina Krembuszewski, jr., 2B-OF; Katy Wieczorek, jr., 3B; Kelly Johnson, jr., SS; Jazzy Flashing, jr., OF

Key newcomers: Emily Keeler, jr., C; Grace Clarke, jr.; 1B-3B; Paige Hoscheit, so.; UTIL; Abby Hennessey, fr., 1B-3B; Gwenn Moran, fr., OF

Noteworthy: Olson is 463-340 in 25 years at C-G. ... Hill won 11 games in the circle and was one of the Trojans’ top hitters, hitting .371 with 11 doubles and 36 RBIs. She’ll play next year at NCAA Division II Purdue Northwest. ... Johnson hit .437 with 14 extra-base hits (eight doubles), 19 RBIs and 31 runs scored. ... Krembuszewski (.378) added 19 RBIs and 20 runs. ...”We have five seasoned players back who are coming in ready to compete for the (FVC) title,” Olson said.

Crystal Lake Central

Coach: Brian Strombom (13th season)

Last year’s record: 7-20 overall, 2-14 FVC (ninth)

Top returners: Morgann Paaske, sr., P; Jess Cruz, sr., C; Hailey Geske, jr., P; Kenna Kessler, jr.; OF; Baylee Snell, so., 3B; Ellie Berg, so.; C-OF

Key newcomers: Emily Egger, jr., P; Valerie Novy, so.; SS

Noteworthy: Paaske (.380) led the Tigers with seven home runs and 25 RBIs, and split time with Geske in the circle. ... Cruz (D-III Simpson College) tallied four homers, four doubles and a team-high 25 runs. ... Berg (.350) had six doubles and three triples. ... “We are a young but developing team with many versatile players and good pitching depth,” Strombom said.

Crystal Lake South

Coach: Scott Busam (15th season)

Last year’s record: 19-7 overall, 11-5 FVC (third)

Top returners: Christina Toniolo, sr., P-1B; Maddie Bush, sr., IF; Skylar Olsen, sr., OF; Emily Sulikowski, sr., IF; Brooke Kuffel, so., IF-P; Alyssa Niketopoulos, sr., P-IF; Baylee Kassel, jr., IF

Key newcomers: Evelyn Smith, so., OF; Alexis Pupillo, fr., C-IF

Noteworthy: Sulikowski led the Gators with a .513 batting average and 1.554 OPS, hitting seven home runs and eight doubles with 33 RBIs and 35 runs scored. She was a Northwest Herald All-Area first-team selection, along with four-year starter Carly Chovanec, now at Bradley. ... Toniolo is going to UIC and led South with eight homers and 34 RBIs, along with eight doubles. ... Kuffel (Loyola) hit .476 with 35 runs and a team-high 13 doubles. ... Bush (.487 BA) had seven doubles, three homers, 33 RBIs and 23 runs. ... Kassel had 11 doubles and 30 runs. ... “[This is] a close-knit group, many of whom have been playing together for three years and I know they’re excited to have one final season together,” Busam said. ... South will play in 3A after being in 4A since 2008.


Coach: Tracy Beatty (12th season)

Last year’s record: 19-11 overall, 12-4 FVC (second)

Top returners: Abby Arsenault, jr., OF; Alaina Azar, jr., 3B; Cady English, sr., OF; Hannah Gestrich, sr., SS; Kylie Ryza, sr., 1B; Megan Thompson, jr., OF

Key newcomers: Caleigh Gertz, jr., P; Grace Dierwechter, jr., C

Noteworthy: The Chargers will be without pitcher Sydney Ruggles for the first time in four years. The Loyola freshman led the area in strikeouts for the third straight year, winning 19 games and posting a tidy 1.83 ERA and 0.97 WHIP. She struck out 276 batters in 1911⁄3 innings, ending her illustrious career with 899 strikeouts. ... Four-year varsity catcher Claire Weeks (Augustana) also graduated, as did third baseman Deanna Origer, who led D-C with nine doubles, 19 RBIs and 21 runs. ... Gertz was the only pitcher other than Ruggles to appear in a game for D-C last year (six innings).


Coach: Kelly Wasilewski (fourth season)

Last year’s record: 15-13 overall, 8-7 FVC (fourth)

Top returners: Sarah Bowen, sr., OF; Morgan Haefling, sr., SS; Gwen Malecke, jr., 3B; Katie Del Re, jr., P; Shai-Ann Currie, jr., P

Key newcomers: Madison Kinczewski, fr., UTIL; Shelby Siegbahn, fr., UTIL

Noteworthy: Bowen and Haefling both will play at NAIA St. Xavier University next year. Haefling led the Whip-Purs with a .438 batting average, to go with seven doubles, three triples, 20 RBIs and 23 runs. Bowen (.424) had a team-high 13 doubles and 26 RBIs, along with three doubles, three triples and 23 runs. ... Delaney Rummell, an Illinois commit, is not playing her senior year. She had 16 extra-base hits, 32 runs and 10 stolen bases, earning All-Area first-team honors. ... Malecke swiped 11 bags. ... “We have quite a few challenging nonconference games on the schedule, and we look forward to build on the successes we’ve had over the past few years,” Wasilewski said.


Coach: Mark Petryniec (16th season)

Last year’s record: 32-6 overall, 15-1 FVC (first)

Top returners: Sofia Tenuta, sr., C; Grace Kutz, sr., DP-1B; Kendra Mitchell, sr., CF; Taylor Zielinski, sr., LF; Teagan O’Rilley, jr., 3B; Victoria Schulte, jr., IF; Briana Bower, so., P; Marley Reicher, so., RF; Lindsay Morgan, so., C-IF

Key newcomers: Courtney Mills, sr., IF; Micah Goodrich, jr., IF; Madelyn Lowe, jr., OF; Madeline Rainey, jr., OF; Aubrey McFadden, so., P; Abigail Simandl, so., IF; Jori Heard, fr., P; Reese Hunkins, fr., IF

Noteworthy: The Red Raiders set a program record with 32 wins, winning their third straight FVC title and fourth straight 4A regional title. ... Petryniec is 314-214 in 15 years at Huntley. ... Tiffany Giese, the 2018 Northwest Herald Softball Player of the Year, was among five graduates. Giese (D-I Wisconsin-Green Bay) was 24-3 with a 2.73 ERA and led the area in batting average (.597), hits (83), runs (64) and steals (40). Huntley also lost four-year shortstop Autumn Kasal, who hit a program-record 11 home runs and drove in 62 runs. ... Tenuta earned All-Area first-team honors, hitting .471 with 16 extra-base hits, 23 walks and 62 RBIs, tied with Kasal for the school record. ... Bower was 7-3 with a 1.68 ERA and 109 strikeouts in 79 innings. She also took All-Area first-team honors. ... Reicher (.440) added 42 runs and 23 steals. ... Kutz (D-III Wisconsin-Oshkosh) hit .406 with nine homers and 35 RBIs. ... O’Rilley (Wisconsin-Green Bay) hit .374 and had 11 doubles, five home runs and 35 RBIs. ... Mitchell had 21 runs and 10 steals.


Coach: Katie O’Brien (fifth season)

Last year’s record: 15-15-1 overall, 8-8 FVC (fifth)

Top returners: Emily Pena, sr., C; Katie Armstrong, sr., P; Hannah Slocum, sr., SS; Savannah Svedman, jr., UTIL; Delaney Garden, so., P-UTIL; Sarah Lynch, so., OF

Key newcomers: Jenn Entz, jr., OF; Abbey Nesnidal, fr.

Noteworthy: Kerri Healy, a four-year starter, led Jacobs with a .494 batting average and .530 on-base percentage. The Golden Eagles also graduated catcher Jess Mrzlak, now at D-I University of Missouri-St. Louis. ... Garden (.358) tallied a team-high 27 runs and was 6-5 with a 2.66 ERA. ... Pena had six doubles, two homers and a team-high 28 RBIs. ... Armstrong had a team-best three home runs and drove in 21. She was 5-5 with a 3.31 ERA. ... “We have a strong group of experienced seniors leading a young team,” O’Brien said. “We have multiple girls who can play different positions, so depending on who is in the circle, the field may change a bit.”


Coach: Mikaela Mitsch (first season)

Last year’s record: 14-16 overall, 4-11 FVC (eighth)

Top returners: Tori Boysen, sr., C-IF; Jocelyn Currie, jr., SS-2B; Lauren Schmitz, sr., 3B; Kate Funk, sr., DP-1B; Alyssa Pearson, sr., P-1B-DP

Noteworthy: The Warriors return an experienced team that won its sixth 4A regional title in seven years under coach John DiFrancesca, who stepped down after the season. Between 2012 and 2018, McHenry won a regional title every year except 2016. ... Boysen (Western Illinois), Currie (Loyola), Schmitz (D-III Wisconsin-Whitewater), Funk (D-III Wisconsin-Stout) and Pearson (D-III Cornell College) all will play at the next level. ... Currie (.347) had nine doubles, six homers and drove in a team-high 38 runs. ... Boysen (.341) had 11 doubles with 23 RBIs. ... Funk (22 RBIs) recorded a team-leading seven homers. ... Schmitz had four homers, four doubles and 23 runs. ... “We have a great team back that has a lot of talent,” Mitsch said. “We’ll be a tough opponent for any team we face.”

Prairie Ridge

Coach: Jan Brown (second season)

Last year’s record: 12-14 overall, 5-11 FVC (seventh)

Top returners: Emmie Farnam, sr., CF-P; Kylie Leverenz, sr., SS; Maggie Schremp, sr., 1B-OF; Bella Crimaldi, so., 3B; Jillian Minutillo, sr., P-OF; Madi O’Brien, so., P-1B

Key newcomers: Mackenzie Scully, sr., C; Nicole Friedman, sr., OF-IF

Noteworthy: The Wolves beat Grayslake Central, 11-3, in a 3A regional championship for their first postseason title in six years. Prairie Ridge ended its season a win short of the program’s first sectional title since 2009. ... Farnam is committed to Northwestern and was an All-Area first-team pick, hitting .413 with 16 extra-base hits, including a team-high eight home runs with 26 RBIs and 28 runs ... O’Brien (.400) had eight homers, four doubles and drove in 24 runs. ... Leverenz (.411) tallied four homers. ... “With our combination of chemistry, experience and skill, we again will look to be competitive in the (FVC),” Brown said.

Kishwaukee River Conference


Coach: Becky Edinger (fifth season)

Last year’s record: 6-14 overall, 1-11 KRC (seventh)

Top returners: Michelle Carnehl, sr.; UTIL; Hannah Saucedo, jr., OF; Jennah Brookner, jr., C; Allison Musgrove, jr., P; Montana Brincks, so., IF; Emma Ackland, so., P

Noteworthy: Brincks led the Hornets as a freshman with 16 RBIs and 18 runs, batting .485. She recorded six doubles, two triples and two homers. ... Brookner had seven doubles. ... “We are a hardworking group that strives daily to improve in the classroom, and on the field,” Edinger said. “We have a core group of players that has earned a considerable amount of experience that will provide strong leadership.”


Coach: Jamie Smeigh (second season)

Last year’s record: 7-19 overall, 2-10 KRC (sixth)

Top returners: Tess Wright, sr., SS; Leah Kottke, sr., OF; Adriana Montewska, sr., OF; Kate Linkletter, so., 3B; Megan Patterson, so., C

Key newcomers: Hailey Barack, fr., P; Addison Mass, fr., P; Amber Smith, fr., P; Avery Malueg, fr., 1B

Noteworthy: The Skyhawks graduated two seniors and return the majority of their offense. ... Linkletter hit .494 with a team-high 1.437 OPS as a freshman. She had 26 RBIs, 31 runs, 10 doubles and seven home runs ... Wright hit .515 with five doubles, five homers, 24 RBIs, and 21 runs. ... Kottke (.392) had nine doubles, four homers, 18 RBIs and 20 runs. ... Montewska (.405) had five doubles, five triples, six homers and scored 27 runs. ... Patterson (.406) finished with seven doubles and 21 RBIs. ... Both of Johnsburg’s KRC wins last year were against Harvard.


Coach: Dwain Nance (13th season)

Last year’s record: 26-5 overall, 11-0 KRC (first)

Top returners: Hannah Ritter, sr., OF; Lauren Aubry, sr., C-SS; Dani Hartmann, jr., 3B; Grace Houghton, sr., OF; Mikayla Wzientek, jr., 1B

Key newcomers: Jenna Turner, so., SS-2B; Christy Lee, sr., 2B; McKenna Skow, sr., OF-C; Kiley Christopher, so., P; Brooke Behrens, so., P; Abby Powers, jr., P

Noteworthy: Marengo won its 12th straight regional title and fifth straight conference title. The Indians have won the KRC all three years. ... Marengo lost key performers in second baseman Anna Walsweer (.481, 31 RBIs, 42 runs), pitcher Riley Connell (15-3, 2.54 ERA), and outfielder Susie Nawrot (40 RBIs). ... Ritter, an All-Area first-team selection, hit .594 and led area players in doubles (18), on-base percentage (.653) and OPS (1.614). The Wisconsin-Oshkosh commit had a team-high 52 runs and drove in 30 with five homers and 26 steals. ... Houghton (.374) had 10 homers with seven doubles and led the team with 42 RBIs. ... Aubry (.340) had four doubles, seven home runs, 11 steals, 38 RBIs and 32 runs. ... “The KRC will be as competitive as any year so far,” Nance said.


Coach: Vicki Klopf (third season)

Last year’s record: 12-9 overall, 7-5 KRC (tied for third)

Top returners: Kaitie Regnier, sr., C-2B; Peyton Bannon, jr., SS; Bella Spittler, jr., CF; Rachel Baker, so., C-2B; Jesse Klicker, so., P-3B

Key newcomers: Peyton Kupsak, fr., UTIL

Noteworthy: The Rockets captured their second straight 3A regional championship. ... Bannon was second among area players with a 1.564 OPS. She recorded 10 doubles, four home runs, four triples, 28 RBIs and 34 runs in 21 games. Bannon hit .529 and stole 11 bases, earning All-Area first-team honors. ... Baker hit .470 with eight doubles, three homers and 26 RBIs. ... Klicker (.405) collected six doubles, two homers and 25 runs. ... Regnier had 11 steals and 23 runs. ... Spittler (.385) stole six bags. ... The Rockets lost their No. 1 pitcher, Sophie Schwegel (Toledo), to graduation.


Coach: Brian Heidtke (first season)

Last year’s record: 9-12 overall, 4-8 KRC (fifth)

Top returners: Sarah Cornell, sr., OF-C; Katie Walsh, sr., OF-INF; Michelle Hanson, sr., OF; Nichole Piquette, sr., P

Noteworthy: Heidtke takes over for Steve Beard, who coached Woodstock for nine years. Heidtke previously was Harvard’s varsity girls basketball coach, and most recently was on the Marengo softball staff. ... The Blue Streaks graduated six, including their top two hitters. ... Piquette was Woodstock’s top pitcher last year, while Hanson (eight doubles, 17 RBIs) is the top returning hitter. ... “This season, we’re focusing on fundamentals,” Heidtke said. “It’s really about making the plays that we should make, and, if we don’t, moving onto the next pitch. If we’re able to do that, no matter the outcome, we’ll have fun.”

Woodstock North

Coach: Paul Sandall (first season)

Last year’s record: 18-11 overall, 7-5 KRC (tied for third)

Top returners: Ellie Thurow, sr., P; Chloe Vermett, sr. 3B-P; Piper Benedict, so., SS; Savannah Adcock, sr., OF; Hayley Matteson, jr., 1B-OF; Mackenzie Spung, sr., 1B; Abby Hartmann, jr., OF;

Key newcomers: Mackenzie Salazar, so., C-OF; Mykenzie Selof, so., 2B-3B; Kamryn Butenschoen, fr. 1B

Noteworthy: The Thunder won a program-record 18 games, led by KRC Player of the Year Ellie Thurow. As a junior, the hard-throwing Thurow finished 14-7 with an area-leading 1.16 ERA and 0.84 WHIP, recording 251 strikeouts in 144 1/3 innings. Thurow hit .410 and drove in 18. Thurow was an All-Area first-team pick after earning second-team honors as a freshman and sophomore. She holds five school pitching records. ... Vermett led the Thunder with a .438 batting average, adding six doubles and 29 runs. ... Salazar (.400) hit three home runs. ... Benedict and Adcock scored more than 20 runs apiece. ... Sandall expects the Thunder to compete for the KRC title.

East Suburban Catholic Conference

Marian Central

Coach: Kurt Farnam (second season)

Last year’s record: 14-10 overall, 7-5 ESCC (third)

Top returners: Maggie Finnegan, sr., SS; Jamie Gatz, sr., P; Faith Parchutz, sr., P; Ellen Sharp, sr., IF; Mikaela Benitez, sr.; IF-OF; Megan Bokowy, sr., IF-OF; Kaeti Miller, sr., C; Jenna Golembiewski, so., CF; Molly Fitzgerald, so., 3B-C; Molly Finnegan, so., 1B

Noteworthy: Maggie Finnegan is committed to Penn State and was an All-Area first-team pick, hitting .565 with a 1.479 OPS and scoring 31 runs with 25 RBIs at leadoff. She had 11 doubles, four homers and four triples. ... Golembiewski hit .421 with eight doubles, three homers, 22 RBIs and 27 runs. ... Miller hit .463 and drove in 21. ... Bokowy (.408) had 21 runs. ... Molly Finnegan hit .455 with 20 runs. ... Gatz was the Hurricanes’ best pitcher, recording a 3.29 ERA. ... Maggie Finnegan, Golembiewski and Gatz were named all-conference. ... “We are looking to compete in the best conference in the state, and take that experience of playing a tough schedule to do damage in the playoffs,” Farnam said.

Northeastern Athletic Conference


Coach: Brook Winkelman (first season)

Last year’s record: 7-15 overall, 5-1 NAC (first)

Top returners: Zoe Deeringer, sr., P; Abby Wanderer, so., C; Brea Knoll, sr., 1B; Taylor Horton, sr., UTIL; Anna Webber, jr., SS; Rachel Pahl, jr., CF; Carly Gritmacker, jr., 2B; Julia Wikman, jr., RF

Key newcomers: Leigha Erckfritz, sr., 1B; Rhayn Holicz, so., 1B-3B; Ashlynn Jensen, fr., SS-OF; Corrine Elswick, fr., 3B; Korhyn Geary, fr., 2B-OF

Noteworthy: The Giants are still looking for their first regional title in program history. A-H lost to Dakota, 4-1, in last year’s 1A regional semifinals. ... Deeringer was the Giants’ top hitter, batting .490 with six homers, four doubles, two triples and 24 RBIs. ... Webber (.420) had five doubles, three triples and a team-high 25 runs. ... Wanderer (.370) tallied six doubles, two triples and 12 RBIs. ... “We have a great group of girls with a positive attitude,” Winkelman said. “We hope to continue the success we’ve had in the (NAC), while improving in our nonconference schedule.”

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