Savannah Soppet might just be Beecher’s best player.
But don’t tell her that – she doesn’t care.
“This team isn’t about me, or any individuals,” Soppet said. “The team as a whole and the success we achieve as a unit are most important.”
It’s an admirable attitude from the Ladycats’ standout pitcher and third baseman, who headed into this season riding the momentum of a 2012 campaign that earned her Times Player of the Year honors.
However, Soppet, who led the area last season with 59 RBIs while batting .482, and also collected a 15-3 record with a 1.72 ERA, isn’t as concerned with her personal stats as she is with getting her team more wins in 2013.
The 18-year-old was center circle when Beecher’s stellar 29-6 season came to a premature end last spring. A 9-0 defeat at the hands of Bishop McNamara in the Ladycats’ opening game of the Class 2A Momence Regional saw the wheels fall off for Soppet and the Beecher offense.
But instead of focusing on that personal unraveling, or questioning what happened to the usually powerful Beecher bats in the regional loss, Soppet said that her mind is solely on helping the team take the next step.
“That [loss to Bishop McNamara] just wasn’t us. We’ve never not hit like that, or not gotten on base. It was like a shock,” Soppet said. “But when that game ended, we immediately looked forward as a team because we knew what kind of team we still have, and we knew what we’re capable of.”
Beecher coach Kevin Hayhurst said that Soppet’s determination to get the team to the deeper regions of the postseason has become apparent every day.
“She always talks about the team; she’s always talking about what we need to do to get better as a group,” Hayhurst said. “And she has always been like that since her time as a starter her freshman year.
“She leads by example on the field during games and even during practices, and wants to help everyone on this team improve each time out.”
Soppet’s own improvements during her first three prep seasons culminated in a softball scholarship with the University of Illinois-Chicago, where she committed in November.
Yet when asked about her development into a Division I collegiate athlete, Soppet immediately turned the focus back to her teammates.
“I’ve benefited from great juniors and seniors when I was a freshman, and a coach who really wants the best for you,” Soppet said. “And as I’ve moved up on this team, I’ve had great teammates around me who want exactly what I want, and that’s to win.
“It’s easy to focus on your accomplishments, and to want to take credit for them yourself, but I’ve realized that I couldn’t be the player I am without the people I’ve played with and learned from.”
And now with one more high school season ahead of her, Soppet is ready to put those lessons to the test.
“It finally hit me that this is it for me, this is my last high school softball season, and that’s made it all the more important,” Soppet said. “I want to play well, and I’d love to have a season like last year’s, if not better.
“But at the end of the day, any win we pick up as a team is going to outshine anything I did on the mound or at the plate, and that’s how it should be.”