Stephanie Abello, Benet
What sophomore slump? The Redwings catcher committed to Illinois followed up a huge 16-homer freshman year with an even better sophomore spring. A lefty with breathtaking power, Abello hit .550 with an area-best 12 homers, 9 doubles and 51 RBI in just 25 games. Her homer off Downers North's Elaine Heflin in sectionals was the first Heflin had allowed in high school. "When she hits the ball," Benet coach Jerry Schilf said, "she hits it with authority."
Jessica Andree, Downers Grove South
At her best in the biggest moments, this junior shortstop was huge in the Mustangs' improbable run to supersectionals. She hit a 3-run homer to key the regional comeback against Naperville Central and homered against Downers North in the sectional final. Andree, also All-Area as a sophomore, hit .449 with 6 homers, 13 doubles, 34 RBI and 31 runs scored. "She's just a great clutch hitter," Mustangs coach Ron Havelka said.
Sydney Benz, Glenbard North
A slick-fielding shortstop, this junior had a great bounce-back year at the plate for the sectional finalist Panthers. Benz, committed to Louisville, hit .459 with 9 doubles, 3 triples, 3 homers, 39 runs scored and 29 RBI. She hit a game-winning 2-run homer in regional final and a grand slam in a sectional semifinal win. "What a turnaround season," Glenbard North coach Josh Sanew said. "It's a credit to all her hard work."
Stephanie Chitkowski, Glenbard South
Half of a sister act on the mound with older sibling Danielle on last year's Class 3A champs, this senior pitcher took the reins and ran with them this spring. Chitkowski is 17-2 with a 1.17 ERA and 0.84 WHIP with 203 strikeouts in 1191⁄3 innings. She threw nine innings of shutout relief in Monday's supersectional win. "She's just a bulldog on the mound," Raiders coach Julie Fonda said.
Maddie Doane, Naperville Central
The engine that fueled the Redhawks' offense, Doane enjoyed a breakout junior season. Committed to Syracuse, Doane hit .492, led the area with 21 doubles, had 7 triples and 3 homers and led the Redhawks in runs with 47 and RBI with 32. There was no bigger reason than Doane for Naperville Central winning its first DuPage Valley Conference title since 1989 and its first 29 games of the season. "She had the best 20 games I've ever had a hitter have," Redhawks coach Andy Nussbaum said.
Alyssa Fernandez, St. Francis
It's hard to find a better shortstop-second base combo than Fernandez and fellow senior Aly Germanos. Adept at turning double plays, Fernandez also routinely drove in Germanos. Fernandez, who will play at Wisconsin-Whitewater, hit .573 with 10 homers, 17 doubles and 59 RBI. The Suburban Christian Blue Player of the Year hit two homers, including a walk-off shot, to beat Montini. "She just has a softball head," Spartans coach Ralph Remus said.
Marissa Gagliano, Wheaton Academy
A dynamic talent, this junior shortstop was the Suburban Christian Gold Player of the Year. Committed to Radford, Gagliano led the area with a .608 average, scored 37 runs and stole 31 bases in 32 attempts in just 21 games. Gagliano reached base her first 56 varsity games and defensively this year made just 1 error in 105 chances. "Her work with the younger kids was what I was most proud of," Warriors coach Paul Gagliano said.
Aly Germanos, St. Francis
The Spartans' senior tablesetter, Germanos got on base and Alyssa Fernandez more often than not drove her in. Also an outstanding defensive second baseman, Germanos hit .566 with an area-best 8 triples, 7 doubles and scored 53 runs for St. Francis, SCC Blue champ for a fifth straight year. Germanos was named the school's Female Athlete of the Year. "She's just a laid-back kid who loves to play the game," Spartans coach Ralph Remus said.
Keegan Hayes, Naperville Central
For six weeks all Hayes did was win. Hayes won her first 20 decisions, with a 38-inning scoreless streak and in that stretch gave up just 1 unearned run in 58 innings. Named the DuPage Valley Conference's Player of the Year, this junior committed to Northern Illinois finished 22-3 with a 1.53 ERA and 168 strikeouts. She also hit .330 with 8 doubles, 2 homers and 21 RBI. "For three weeks hitting her was like trying to eat soup with a fork," Redhawks coach Andy Nussbaum said.
Elaine Heflin, Downers Grove North
The Daily Herald DuPage County All-Area softball captain, Heflin was the area's most dominant pitcher in a year largely devoid of them. The senior UIC recruit went 17-5 with a 0.96 ERA, and 267 strikeouts in 146 innings with 10 shutouts and 4 no-hitters. She threw two playoff shutouts, leading Downers North to its first sectional final since 1979. "She's a tough kid who always wanted the ball," Trojans coach Mark Magro said.
Shannon Hohman, Waubonsie Valley
As valuable a two-way player to her team as any in the area was this Warriors sophomore. Hohman, the Upstate Eight Valley's Pitcher of the Year, went 19-6 with a 1.66 ERA and 200 strikeouts with a 0.96 WHIP and was a workhorse, throwing 139 innings. Batting cleanup, she hit .388 with 5 homers and a team-best 37 RBI for 23-6 Waubonsie. "She really grew as a player from her freshman to sophomore year," Waubonsie coach Aly Kelley said.
Maeve McGuire, Benet
Simply put, there was no better pure hitter around the last four years than this sweet-swinging lefty. McGuire, who will play at Georgia next year, hit .516 with 9 homers, 9 doubles, 51 RBI and 45 runs scored. Injuries moved her from center field, to first base and finally to catcher. Patient at the plate, McGuire drew 26 walks in 129 plate appearances. "I can't wait to see Maeve play on ESPN some day," Benet coach Jerry Schilf said.
Amanda Minahan, Waubonsie Valley
A leader for the Warriors on and off the field, this senior shortstop was the Upstate Eight Valley Player of the Year for the repeat champs. Minahan, committed to South Alabama, hit .495 with 5 homers, 8 doubles, 8 triples and 31 RBI. An outfielder during the summer, Minahan has as strong an arm as any shortstop. "She was a great senior leader that passed on the program's tradition to the younger kids," Warriors coach Aly Kelley said.
Carolyn Nojiri, Downers Grove North
Humble and level-headed, this senior was one of the area's best leadoff hitters. A smart baserunner and triple threat at bat, Nojiri hit .519 with 9 doubles, 3 triples, 3 homers, 33 runs and 14 RBI. Moved from center field to second base as a junior, Nojiri committed just 1 error this spring. She will play softball and volleyball at Lewis. "As a leadoff hitter you couldn't ask for more," Trojans coach Mark Magro said.
Marissa Panko, Benet
The multitalented junior shortstop has all the tools necessary for a great softball player. A hitter who can get it done with average, speed and added power this spring, Panko hit .496 with 11 doubles, 5 homers, 3 triples, 46 runs scored and 30 RBI leading off for Redwings. The Northwestern recruit can also flash the leather. "There's nothing she can't do on the softball field," Benet coach Jerry Schilf said.
Angela Scalzitti, York
The spark that ignites the Dukes' offense. The junior committed to DePaul is hitting .509 with 35 stolen bases and 47 runs scored for a York team making its first state appearance since 2003. Aggressive on the basepaths, Scalzitti in center field has great awareness reading the ball off bats. "I haven't seen a better outfielder the way she tracks balls down," York coach Drew McGuire said. "Offensively, she opens everything up for us."
Sam Schmidt, Willowbrook
Along with Darian Pelsor, Schmidt's presence put Willowbrook softball back on the map. The tall sophomore shortstop with power hit .458 with 9 homers, 8 doubles, 3 triples, 40 RBI and 45 runs scored. The Warriors went 23-10, taking second in the West Suburban Gold with a young lineup Schmidt anchored. "Nobody believed in what we were doing more than Sam," Warriors coach Rachel Karos said.
Alyssa Sclafani, Montini
The slugging catcher rewrote the Montini softball record book and did so as a freshman. A tireless worker with a great approach, Sclafani hit .419 with a program-record 11 homers and 51 RBI and also banged out 14 doubles as the 27-11 Broncos set a record for wins. "She put up numbers as a freshman that upperclassmen would love to put up," Montini coach Richie Costante said.
Jane Trzaska, Glenbard South
Whatever position Trzaska played, she performed at a high level. The four-year varsity starter who will play at Armstrong Atlantic is hitting .500 with 13 doubles, 7 homers, 42 RBI and 41 runs scored for a Raiders team making its third straight state appearance. A strong-armed catcher, Trzaska also is 11-3 on the mound with a 1.82 ERA and 119 strikeouts. She was named Metro Suburban Player of the Year. "She is the epitome of a Glenbard South kid," Raiders coach Julie Fonda said.
Shelley Warmolts, Glenbard West
The Hilltoppers sophomore perhaps even surprised herself with the impact she made. Warmolts hit .512 with 11 doubles, 3 homers, 35 runs scored and 20 RBI. With her speed she could drop a bunt down or stretch singles into doubles. A true catcher who played left field, Warmolts moved from cleanup to leadoff midway through the season. "Whenever runners were on base," Hilltoppers coach Mary McGrane said, "she was the one we wanted up."