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Softball - Kankakee Valley vs Morgan Township

Kankakee Valley's Emma Sark connects for a single during the Kougars' season-opening win over Morgan Township.

Kankakee Valley senior Emma Sark exudes confidence and leadership for the Kougars.

The sure-handed Sark has also showed her versatility having moved from the infield to catcher midway through her four-year varsity career.

“She was our third baseman for two years, and then last year we moved her into the catcher’s role to shore up our outfield,” longtime K.V. coach Brian Flynn said. “We moved Maddie Swart out to left field last year, and now Maddie is playing shortstop and we still have Emma catching.”

Sark, Swart and center fielder Kaylee Barrett are three seniors who were a part of K.V.’s Class 3A state runner-up teams in 2016 and 2017. The Kougars lost in the Class 4A Crown Point Sectional semifinal last year. The trio has seen it all.

“It’s been a blast,” said Sark on Saturday at the L.C. Classic. “Maddie and Kaylee -- we’ve been together since we were about 8 years old, and it’s just awesome. It kind of sucks though it’s our last season. … Last year we couldn’t quite figure it out, but I think this year we’ve got a real good chance as long as we keep hitting the ball.”

Sark is doing her part, hitting .515 with with a home run, six doubles and 11 RBIs. She went 2-for-4 with a double in a 12-8 loss to Franklin Central on Saturday. She’s also handling a young pitching staff.

“Emma has gotten better and better even since last year, and she’s thrown quite a few people out this year and does a great job for us,” Flynn said. “She’s been hitting the ball real solid for us all year, too. She’s been a good, solid player for us all year, a great attitude, very positive with mostly JV kids in this (Lake Central) game. I’m going to miss when she’s gone next year.”

K.V. is 6-4 overall and 3-1 in the Northwest Crossroads Conference. Sark was 3 for 4 with three RBIs and two runs scored in a 13-12 win over Portage on Monday. Sark hasn’t shied away from taking on a leadership role, too.

“I try to,” she said. “It’s tough. Me, Maddie and Kaylee, we know each other, so we know our boundaries of telling each other what to do, and we help the team out where we can.”

Sark, who’s been playing “since I could swing the bat,” works on her hitting at home when she can and will do whatever it takes to help the team.

“If a pitcher needs caught, I’ll catch her,” she said. “That’s for sure. I like catching because I like to be in control, calling pitches.”

Flynn said Sark has been part of some very good KV teams.

“In her career they’ve won 20 or more games every year,” he said. “We’ve got some work to do to get there this year, and we’re going to shoot for that. We’ll get us all healthy and get us back together, and we’re going to be a tough team to beat.”

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