SCOUTING LOCAL SOFTBALL TEAMS

Scouting Local Illiinos Softball Teams

2014-03-26T19:00:00Z 2014-03-27T00:24:07Z Scouting Local Illiinos Softball TeamsPhil Arvia Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
March 26, 2014 7:00 pm  • 

BEECHER

2013 record: 27-7 (12-0 River Valley Conference)

Playoff advancement: Lost in regional title game.

Players to Watch: Sarah Crews Sr., P (14-4, 1.96; .536 avg., 41 RBI); Isabella Woolslayer Sr., SS (.430); Emily Landis Jr., C/OF (.420, 21 RBI); Savanah Stluka So., CF (.427); Sydney Zupan So., 3B (.333, 21 RBI).

Outlook: Gone is two-time Times Player of the Year Savannah Soppet, and the perennial River Valley powerhouse — 11 straight league crowns — is three seasons removed from its last regional title and seven years from the last of coach Kevin Hayhurst's two state championships. In 11 seasons, Hayhurst has won fewer than 25 games only once, and the Ladycats seem a good bet to reach that threshold again. Pitching and defense will carry a lefty-laden lineup.

Coach's Quote: "A very good blend of veterans and youngsters to go along with great attitudes and outstanding effort early in practices give me reason to anticipate a fun and successful season."

BLOOM TOWNSHIP

2013 record: 15-11 (10-5 Southland Athletic Conference)

Playoff advancement: Lost in regional semifinal

Players to Watch: Morgan Zimmerman Sr. C (.467); Katie Frederick So. P (114 K).

Outlook: Seven sophomores and two freshmen are the core of a young squad. Zimmerman, a four-year starter, is one of four seniors. After a six-season stint by Carrie Twietmeyer, coach Ron Giglio takes over the program. Giglio likes the Blazing Trojans' defense and athleticism, and has been impressed by freshman infielder McKenna Vandommelen.

Coach's Quote: "We take pride in focusing on the fundamentals in our program. If we can play like we practice, we are going to have a great season. Our girls expect to win every game."

CRETE-MONEE

2013 record: 18-8 (10-1 Southland Athletic Conference)

Playoff advancement: Lost in regional semifinal.

Players to Watch: Abby King Jr., C (.529, 37 RBI, 24 SB); Ashley Bartlett So, SS (.452, 58 RBI, 13 SB); Sarah Rizzo Sr., P (10-5).

Outlook: Entering her 29th and last season as the Warriors' coach, Sue Giannantonio carries a record of 459-344-3. Returning eight members of last season's Southland Conference champs, she's got a good chance to win her ninth conference title and a second regional. King is entering her third varsity season, Bartlett had a fabulous freshman year on varsity. Another sophomore, Tatyana Henderson, should make her presence felt at second base or in the outfield, and Amanda Buzan, a junior transfer from Illinois Lutheran, will grab a corner infield spots.

Coach's Quote: "You never know what's going to happen. But it would be great to win another regional."

HOMEWOOD-FLOSSMOOR

2013 record: 6-18 (4-8 SouthWest Suburban Red)

Playoff advancement: Lost in Romeoville Regional title game.

Players to Watch: Meagan Donermeyer So., P/3B (.440); KellyAnn Rinearson Jr., P; Kasey Nemitz Jr., 1B (.315); Olivia Hamilton Sr., LF (.317); Kayla Butler Jr., CF (.365).

Outlook: Coach Katie Rice won a regional in her first season. Now in her fourth year, she's trying to blend a few key veterans with an largely inexperienced cast. Heading the returnees are Nemitz, a three-year varsity player, and Donermeyer, who give the Vikings strong gloves and bats at the corners. Newcomers Olivia Dau and Gabby Cooke figure to step into the middle infield positions. Hamilton is the senior leader of an otherwise younger crew.

Coach's Quote: "We have a younger team, but we have great talent. We will be competitive. We are working hard, developing team unity, and we will accomplish our goals this season."

ILLIANA CHRISTIAN

2013 record: 10-11 (5-7 Metro Suburban Conference)

Playoff advancement: Lost regional title game to Chicago Christian.

Players to Watch: Kat Witting Sr., 2B (.370 avg., .450 slugging); Tatum Oppenhuis Jr., C (.459 avg., .574 slugging); Jessica Bombino Sr., CF (.381 avg.)

Outlook: Mike Oppenhuis is gone after eight seasons, replaced by Allie Cable. Cable played four years of varsity softball at Illiana, graduating in 2008, and started at Trinity Christian for four seasons. Bombino, heading to Huntington University to continue her playing career, and Witting will provide the senior leadership. Sophomore pitcher Brooke VanDerAa is back for her second varsity season. Three freshmen and four sophomores mark the Vikings as inexperienced, despite the fact that they return five starters. Cable expects the defense to be strong.

Coach's Quote: "This team is a great group of girls who work hard and are committed to playing hard to win."

ILLINOIS LUTHERAN

2013 record: 3-17 (0-12 River Valley Conference)

2013 conference record: 0-12 River Valley

Playoff advancement: Lost in regional semifinal.

Players to Watch: Janelle Heyn Jr., P (.286); Caroline Kuether Sr., OF (.309); Kassie Kernagis So., (.326); Sam Sievert Sr., (.290).

Outlook: Illinois Lutheran's high point last season was topping Seton in a regional play-in game. Vince Schrementi takes over as head coach after assisting for five years. Underclassmen occupy nine of the 12 roster spots. Sophomores Sara and Jessica Currier are expected to contribute. Heyn and Kuether are co-captains.

Coach's Quote: "Even though many of the players have not been tested at the high school varsity level, they bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the field and work hard to improve their play."

MARIAN CATHOLIC

2013 record: 16-17 (6-12 East Suburban Catholic Conference)

Playoff advancement: Lost in regional final.

Players to Watch: Susie Baranski So. CF (.427, 16 RBI, 11 SB); Meghan Henson So. C/IF (.293, 14 RBI); Allison Spence Jr., IF/P (.313, 11 R, 9 RBI); Carlee Wisniewski Jr. OF (.357); Gabby Angellotti Fr. C/IF.

Outlook: Seven of 14 players on coach Kerri Evans' varsity roster are underclassmen, and they all may start. Only three seniors graduated from last year's squad, so the Spartans' youth has experience. Three-time all-area pick and leading hitter Alex Nickel will be missed. With its combo of speed and power, Marian expects to pressure defenses and score in bulk.

Coach's Quote: "We have a new vision and focus this season that will help drive us to maximize our full potential to be a competitive force."

ST. FRANCIS DE SALES

2013 record: 17-6 (5-1 GCAC White)

Playoff advancement: Won Class 1A Morgan Park Academy regional, lost in sectional semifinal.

Players to Watch: Kylee G. Carrasco Sr. 1B (.380, 5 HR, 42 RBI); Jensen Hunt Sr., P/3B/CF (.530, 6 HR, 57 RBI); Tasia Harris Sr., P/3B/SS (.403 5 HR, 49 RBI).

Outlook: The Pioneers return three all-conference players in Carrasco, Hunt and Harris among 11 returnees from the regional champs. Other experienced hands include senior SS/C Abigail Castaneda, senior P/C/OF Stephanie Galan and junior LF/3B Nimiah Barker. Freshman P/CF Elizabeth Walsh is expected to have an immediate impact. The Pioneers haven't won back-to-back regionals since 2004 and 2005, when they were Class A state quarterfinalists. Coach Juan Carrasco expects improved pitching and defense, and a "very good outfield."

Coach's Quote: "I believe this 2014 St. Francis de Sales Pioneer softball team is going to have one of its best seasons. There's a lot of talent on this team."

SETON ACADEMY

2013 record: 5-10 (2-5 GCAC White)

Playoff advancement: Lost in regional opener.

Players to Watch: Kayla Jones Fr./P; Jordan Cray Fr. IF/P; Ebony Davis Jr., 3B/P; Simone Clemmons Jr. IB.

Outlook: Scott Pallay, who cut his softball teeth running the 18u division of South Holland Little League Softball for 11 years, takes over the coach's spot after assisting for one season. The team he inherits is shorn of, he said, 80 percent of its offensive production of a year ago — including LaWanda Thomas, who transferred to Thornwood after leading Seton in RBI and slugging as a sophomore. Still, he expects improvement based on the additions of Jones and Cray, plus three-year basketball starter Aliyah Qualls, who is playing softball for the first time. Davis and Clemmons will lead a core of six juniors.

Coach's Quote: "The Seton Lady Sting will play hard, demonstrate overall athleticism and be a surprise contender for the GCAC White Division championship."

THORNRIDGE

2013 record: 0-22 (0-14 SouthWest Suburban Red)

Playoff advancement: Lost in regional opener.

Players to Watch: Nivianna Martinez, Sr., P/3B; Ebony Holiday, Sr., SS; Kimberly Allison, Sr., 1B; JaySheri Cheers So., C/OF.

Outlook: The Falcons are made up of, in the words of coach Sherry Jackson, "inexperienced youth" — which is to say, the first time most of Thornridge's players try softball is once they've arrived at Thornridge. The Falcons haven't won a regional title since 1981 and Jackson, their veteran mentor, said "playing hard every day" is a realistic goal. The Falcons' numbers are down in terms of bodies on the roster, but not in terms of grade-point average — three players have earned academic scholarships to Ball State University.

Coach's Quote: "My girls work very hard to prepare themselves. As long as they give this sport 100 percent and take us at least one step further than the year before, now that's progress."

T.F. NORTH

2013 record: 3-23 (2-17 South Suburban Blue)

Playoff advancement: Lost in regional semifinal.

Players to Watch: Lauren Brown Sr.; Nia Livingston So.; Christin Causey Jr., Makiah Garrett Jr.

Outlook: Coach Kara Zentz's stated goal is to double the Meteors' win total of a season ago — which matched the squad's win total of 2012. The return of all but one member of her coaching staff, after nearly complete turnover in each of the previous three seasons, should help consistency. Seven senior starters from last year's team are gone. Livingston will take pitching duties from the graduated Sara Daw.

Coach's Quote: "We have a very positive and dedicated group of girls this year. … On top of us coaching them, they also coach each other and are starting to establish a great sense of teamwork in their practices."

T.F. SOUTH

2013 record: 15-13 (9-10 South Suburban Blue)

Playoff advancement: Lost in regional semifinals.

Players to Watch: Cori Reynolds Sr., C/SS (.487); Ashtyn Kapovich Sr. SS/2B (.436); Devin Pieper So. P (3.10 ERA, .330); Brianna Heintz Sr. CF/2B (.319).

Outlook: A contingent of seven returning seniors means third-year coach Jamie Arundel has expectations of posting her first plus-.500 conference season. Pieper and another sophomore, Sarah Kessler, will be counted on to handle the pitching chores. Yet another senior, Tiambris Tate, returns to softball after missing 2013 with a knee injury. Reynolds, who will play at Lewis University next season, is a four-year varsity starter, two-time all-South Suburban Blue pick and captain.

Coach's Quote: "We look to win more of the close conference games that we lost last year in order to take a higher seed in the conference. … We will be much more sound throughout our lineup offensively and defensively."

THORNWOOD

2013 record: 6-19 (3-11 SouthWest Suburban Blue)

Playoff advancement: Lost in regional opener.

Players to Watch: Shadedria Young, Sr., OF (.390, 10 RBI); Hannah McPherson, Jr. P (5-14, 65K's, .328, 12 RBI, All-SWSC); Kyla Owens, Sr. C/3B (.328, 13 RBI, All-SWSC); Fantasia Ojeda, So 2B/SS (.300, 17 RBI).

Outlook: The Thunderbirds bring back nine letter winners, including four seniors. Kyla Owens captains a team that looks poised to do better than last season's 13-0 loss to Bloom in its playoff opener. Coach Mark Anderson, formerly the long-time coach at Bloom, will for the second year be assisted Thornwood's legendary ex-head coach, Gary Lagesse.

Coach's Quote: "Our strengths are our versatility and commitment to getting better. We've been working hard to help restore the softball tradition at Thornwood and look forward to improving this season."

WASHINGTON

2013 record: 11-8 (7-5 Public League)

Playoff advancement: Lost in regional opener.

Players to Watch: Rachel Kubisz So, P/IF/OF; Katie Uzorus So., 3B; Brittany Trejo So. C/IF; Isela Maradiaga Jr. IF/OF; Amanda Prado Jr. 1B.

Outlook: Fourth-year coach Sara Kalemba's Patriots return 10 players off last season's varsity roster, including eight starters. Four of those starters are sophomores this season. Further proof that the squad is young? Its captains are juniors. Washington looks to challenge Kennedy for the conference title.

Coach's Quote: "We're young but capable. The mental game has always been our issue, but I believe this year's team will change that. We have nothing to lose and nothing but respect to gain."

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