High school softball is back. Check out our five players to watch this season.
Peyton Bannon, Richmond-Burton, jr., SS – The Wisconsin-bound Bannon was second among area players with a 1.564 OPS, smacking 10 doubles, four home runs and four triples with 28 RBIs and 34 runs in 21 games. Bannon hit .529, stole 11 bases and played stellar defense, making four errors at shortstop.
Briana Bower, Huntley, so., P – Bower has a tough act to follow after the Red Raiders graduated four-year varsity pitcher Tiffany Giese, who holds numerous school records, including most wins (89). Bower's riseball has been clocked as high as 65 mph, and she's already getting looks from Division I schools. She pitched in 29 of 38 games as a freshman, finishing 7-3 with a 1.68 ERA and 109 strikeouts in 79 innings.
Hannah Ritter, Marengo, sr., OF – One of the area's most complete and feared hitters, Ritter was second in the area with a .594 batting average and led all local players in doubles (18), on-base percentage (.653) and OPS (1.614). She scored a team-high 52 runs for the Indians, who won their fifth straight conference championship and 12th straight regional title. Ritter finished with 30 RBIs, five home runs and made one error in the outfield. She'll play next year at D-III Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
Emily Sulikowski, Crystal Lake South, sr., IF – The owner of five Gators' hitting records, the corner infielder punished opposing pitchers to the tune of a .513 batting average and 1.554 OPS. Sulikowski clubbed seven home runs and eight doubles, striking out only twice in 103 plate appearances, along with 23 walks. She drove in 33 runs and scored 35.
Ellie Thurow, Woodstock North, sr., P – Thurow holds just about every Thunder pitching record and is coming off a stellar junior season in which she led the area with a 1.12 ERA and 0.84 WHIP and struck out 251 batters in 144 1/3 innings (second to Dundee-Crown graduate and Loyola freshman Sydney Ruggles). Thurow hit .410 with 18 RBIs as the Thunder won a program-high 18 games. She was named Kishwaukee River Conference Player of the Year.