TIMES SOFTBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR | BEECHER'S SAVANNAH SOPPET

Beecher's Savannah Soppet is The Times Illinois Softball Player of the Year

2013-06-20T18:00:00Z 2014-06-19T19:21:31Z Beecher's Savannah Soppet is The Times Illinois Softball Player of the YearPhil Arvia Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
June 20, 2013 6:00 pm  • 

Near the end of the conversation about being named the Times' 2013 Illinois Softball Player of the Year, Beecher's Savannah Soppet was asked if the interviewer had forgotten anything.

It is a fair question. After all, Soppet had done this before, having earned Player of the Year recognition for her junior season.

"Well," she said, cautiously. "Can I say, 'thank you?'"

Please do.

"Thank you for picking me," she said. "And thanks to my dad, and Coach 'Hay' (Kevin Hayhurst) and the team, and the Munster Magic, my summer team, and for all the support from my family and friends."

Those who know Soppet well should not be surprised by that gesture. It seems the four-year varsity player, who split her time this year between shortstop and pitcher, has a reputation for doing things the right way.

"It's mainly her focus," Hayhurst said. "Her work ethic. How she comes to practice every day and works to get better.

"That's what I'll remember. How she got better every day for four years."

Over those four years, Beecher won 111 games and lost 25. Over the last three, Soppet has scored 115 runs and driven in 133. Over the last two, she's hit four grand slams, tying the Illinois High School Association career mark.

This year? All Soppet did for a 27-7 Ladycats squad was hit .481 with team highs in hits (50), RBIs (46), runs (45), and triples (6).

In limited pitching duty, she went 8-2 with a team-best 1.26 ERA and 93 strikeouts over 61 innings.

Now, she's getting ready to go to the University of Illinois-Chicago, where she'll be in a freshman class with roughly the same population (about 4,300) as her home town.

"I've always wanted to go to a big school," she said. "Big schools make it harder for you to stand out, so it pushes you.

"My cousins go to a big school, and they see 20 kids they don't know walking down the hall every day. There were 95 kids in my graduating class — I've known everyone my whole life."

At UIC, Soppet plans to major in pre-med in addition to playing for the defending Horizon League regular-season champs. The Flames are coached by former Olympian and Thornwood grad Michelle Venturella, who played for Hayhurst when he was a Thunderbirds assistant. Like Venturella did when she left high school, Soppet plans to leave pitching behind.

"Pitching in college takes a lot of extra time," she said. "Since I'm going into pre-med, it would be time away from that."

Besides, she prefers a home in the middle infield, and the chance to sneak up on the opposition.

"I fell like I'm unexpected as a lefty," she said. "People expect slappers. I'm a power-hitting lefty.

"And I cover a lot of ground at shortstop, so I feel like that surprises people, too."

It seems Soppet likes surprises, judging by her reaction to Hayhurst's words of praise.

"He's not one to really say those kinds of things," she said. "If anything, he'll get on you for what you're doing wrong.

"That's really nice to hear."

Sounds like Hayhurst has another "thank you" coming.

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