Dream Aaron ConantThe sophomore grew into a top player in the Mid-Suburban League this spring, batting .402 with 6 homers and also handling the catching duties for the conference champs. "Dream really came into her own this season," said Cougars coach CathyAnn Smith. "As a freshman, she watched and learned from Miranda (Cavin, former all-area catcher now at Oklahoma State) and made the position her own." On offense, Aaron had 28 RBI and 10 doubles. "She was a young leader on our team," Smith added. "We are looking forward having Dream back for another two seasons."
Sam Acosta Hoffman EstatesAcosta completed a stellar four-year varsity career as Hoffman's starting shortstop by being named the team MVP. She led the team with a .417 batting average and a .486 on-base percentage. "As our leadoff batter, Sam consistently ignited our offense and kept other teams on their toes with her speed on the basepaths," said Hawks coach Lindsey Hamma. "Her quick release and range at shortstop have made her a solid leader in the infield over the past four years." Acosta committed only 3 errors in 121 chances this season. "Sam is a fearless competitor who constantly challenges herself to improve," Hamma said. Acosta scored 27 runs with 15 RBI and was never thrown out while stealing 14 bases. "Sam's work ethic, determination, and leadership have set the tone for our team over the past four years," Hamma added. "She leaves some big shoes to fill and we will miss her."
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Paige Alt SchaumburgOnly a sophomore, Alt contributed in many ways for the Saxons 26-8 season. She sparkled in the batter's box, first base and pitching circle where she threw three straight no-hitters in the middle of the season. "Paige was solid on the mound for us," said Saxons coach Ellen Abreu. Alt was 12-2 with 107 strikeouts and a 1.72 ERA. At the plate, Alt hit .462, collecting 55 hits of which 9 were doubles and 14 home runs. She collected 50 RBI. " Paige was a big asset at the plate producing runs for us," Abreu added. "She was our first baseman, too. doing a great job with stretching for throws. She's young so we are excited about the next two years and with all the potential she has to build upon."
Elisa Ambrose ConantThe junior center fielder and co-captain for the Mid-Suburban League champions was one of the top leadoff batters in the conference. Ambrose batted a team-high .479 with a team-high 13 doubles and 26 RBI while also covering a lot of ground defensively in the outfield. "Elisa knows how to lead in all aspects of the game," said Conant coach Cathyann Smith. "She made things happen as our leadoff batter with one of the highest on-base percentages (. 519) on our team. Her range in the outfield is incredible and she knows how to support our team."
Brooke Barges Elk GroveCall it a breakout season for Barges as the senior first baseman batted .420 with 6 home runs and 10 doubles. "Brooke sort of came out of nowhere for us," said Elk Grove coach Ken Grams. Barges missed almost her entire junior season with a broken hand. "Consequently she began this season as one who in effect had to prove herself all over again," Grams said. "And that she did in a big way." Barges drove in 36 runs. "She performed her way into a big RBI player for the team as a result of her extra-base hit and home run capabilities," Grams said. "She hits the ball hard with regularity with a good strong swing. It was a pleasure to see her become an important part of this team and to see her confidence and production grow as the season progressed."
Dea Barton Buffalo GroveIt was a championship season for the Bison, who won the Mid-Suburban East for the second straight season. One reason was the play of Barton at shortstop and hitting in the No. 3 spot. The junior batted .353 with 2 doubles and a home run. "Dea was an excellent defensive shortstop with a very strong arm," said Bison coach Jamie Paul. "Her fielding percentage was about .950 with 41 assists and 49 putouts."
Julia Camardo Buffalo GroveMidway through the season, Camardo suffered a face injury from a line drive but missed less than 10 days and came back to win 14 straight games on the mound. She has pitched BG to back-to-back Mid-Suburban East crowns. This season, the junior went 17-6 recording 141 strikeouts with an ERA of 1.46. She also played a major role with her offense, hitting .375 with 8 doubles and 1 home run. "Julia was the heart and soul of this team," said Bison coach Jamie Paul. "She is a true leader." Camardo is committed to play softball at Wisconsin-Whitewater, which finished third in the Division III World Series this years. "The coaches and team really made me feel at home while being on campus," Camardo said. "And I couldn't be happier with my decision."
Emily Carnes Buffalo GroveThe Bison junior catcher had a terrific season, batting .457 with 11 doubles and 1 triple for the Mid-Suburban East champions. "Emily had some big hits for us this season," said Bison coach Jamie Paul. "She hit .390 in clutch situations (. 390 with runners in scoring position). Carnes also stood out with her defense. Catching on the varsity for the first time, Carnes made only 2 errors and threw out 11 of 16 runners trying to steal.
Caitlin Catino Buffalo GroveCatino appears on the all-area team for the second straight season. The speedy center fielder put together another stellar spring, batting .464 with 11 doubles, 1 triple and 3 home runs. "Caitlin was an offensive weapon for us," said Bison coach Jamie Paul. "She is a triple threat. She can bunt for a hit or hit the ball over the wall. She is very speedy on the bases (16 stolen bases). And she is a very solid defensive center fielder (only 1 error this season)."
Katie Dehnert BarringtonWhen it came to leadership, Dehnert hit 1,000. Her batting average wasn't bad, either, as she hit .458 in the MSL with runners in scoring position (26 RBI overall). "Katie was a positive leader for us," said Barrington coach Perry Peterson. "She wasn't afraid to tell her teammates when they all had to work a little harder. Katie was a hard worker who led by example." Dehnert had 5 extra-base hits. "She hit in the clutch on numerous occasions," Peterson said.
Keenan Dolezal BarringtonAfter pitching the Fillies to third place in the Class 4A state tournament, Dolezal came back with another stellar season as a junior. The Loyola recruit compiled a record of 26-10 with 11 shutouts and 255 strikeouts. "Keenan has tremendous talent," said Barrington coach Perry Peterson. "For her size, she throws with amazing velocity. Her teammates counted on Keenan to lead the way and she did a tremendous job."
DeeDee Durr ConantYou can be sure whatever the sport, Durr was going all out. And she sent 10 balls out of the park for home runs this spring while batting .400 for the Mid-Suburban League champs. Durr, also a volleyball and basketball player, had 9 doubles, 1 triple and 31 RBI while batting in the No. 2 spot. "She is a three-sport athlete and true competitor," said Conant coach CathyAnnSmith. "DeeDee worked hard at making sure her bat came through when we needed it. And she showed a lot of versatility on defense (played shortstop, left field, right field and catcher this season) allowing us to do different things in different games."
Leigh Farina FremdFarina heads toward her Division I softball future at the University of Illinois as Fremd's all-time leader in career batting average. The senior shortstop batted .441 in her four-year varsity career, including a .376 average this spring with 6 doubles, 1 triple and 3 homers. "Leigh entered Fremd with loads of talent," said Fremd coach Jim Weaver. "And she has lit up the leader board for our career offensive stats." Farina also scored 29 runs this season along with 33 RBI. "Leigh played a solid shortstop this season," Weaver said. "And she was always ready with a tough at-bat with runners in scoring position." Farina's 16 career home runs were fourth best in school history while her 114 RBI ranked. No 2.
Shannon Felde SchaumburgWhether it was pitching, hitting or fielding, Felde was making a huge impact on the field for the Saxons, who tied for second in the tough Mid-Suburban League West. The junior, already committed to Illinois State, batted .483 with 16 doubles, 3 homers and 29 RBI while striking out only one time. On the mound, she was 12-5 with 139 strikeouts and a 1.93 ERA. "Shannon is a leader," said Saxons coach Ellen Abreu, whose club went 26-8. "She is a great asset to the team. She is an amazing hitter and a consistent pitcher. She's just an all-around great player who is versatile as she also plays shortstop."
Alyssa Garcia FremdOnly a sophomore, Fremd coach Jim Weaver is already excited about Garcia's next two seasons. "Alyssa will definitely be the leader of our team next season, and was a kid that other players looked up to, even though she was only a sophomore," he said. Garcia used her speed to steal 28 bases while batting .458 with 38 hits, 6 doubles, 1 triple and 3 homers. "She combines speed and power at the top of our lineup, with the ability to slap, bunt, and swing away for power," Weaver added. "Alyssa was an electric offensive weapon this past season and the sky is the limit for her potential."
Krystal Harris St. ViatorYou could always bank on Harris to trigger the offense. The speedy junior center fielder, batting No. 2 in the order, led the Lions with 52 hits and 10 sacrifices. Harris hit .464 with a .500 on-base percentage "Krystal was a great No. 2 hitter and a speedster in center field," said Lions coach John Scotillo. "She worked hard on her outfield play and threw out 3 runners this year. Her speed in chasing down flyballs helped solidify the defense." Harris also notched 4 wins on the pitcher's mound. "She will be a captain next year," Scotillo added. "And she has served as a mentor to the young players."
Abbey Herling Maine WestA three-year varsity player for the Warriors and a talented multisport athlete, Herling capped off her sports career at Maine West by leading the Warriors at the plate with a .551 batting average. Herling had 49 hits in 89 at-bats, including 10 doubles, 4 triple and 4 home runs. She also scored 31 runs and collected 23 RBI. "Abbey can hit and field (center and third base)" said Maine West coach Amy Gonzales of the senior three-time all-conference player. "She has been a leader for us and always plays hard. She is solid at center and third base."
Sam Hogan St. ViatorHogan arrived at St. Viator as a catcher her freshman year and ended up 43 feet away as a pitcher who tied the school record for wins this season with 15. She also set the record for strikeouts in a game (15) and season (175). "She is a fine example of a dedicated athlete who worked hard to improve," said Lions coach John Scotillo. As a hitter (. 465, 37 RBI, 5 home runs) she also set offensive records for RBI (37), doubles (18) and on-base percentage. Hogan was the winning pitcher in 15 of the Lions' 19 wins. The senior captain and East Suburban Catholic all-conference selection is headed for the University of Indianapolis.
Telly Hunter ConantHunter proved to be a valuable defensive player for the Mid-Suburban League champions, playing multiple positions during her stellar varsity career. She saw the majority of time at second base this season. Offensively, she batted 351 with 6 doubles, 1 triple, 3 home runs and 21 RBI. "Telly has been valuable playing multiple positions for us and she knows how to make things happen at the plate," said Cougars coach Cathyann Smith. "She has power and speed."
Jennifer Inamoto BarringtonThe move-in transfer from New Jersey adjusted quite well to the Midwest brand of softball for her final prep season. Inamoto helped lead the Fillies to a 27-12 season, hitting .381 from the No. 3 spot with a team-high 33 RBI (10 doubles and 3 home runs). "Jennifer was a welcome addition to our 2014 team," said Fillies coach Perry Peterson. "Jen could drive in runs from the middle of the order and that made our team better. Her bat speed generated a lot of extra base hits (14)."
Kayla Kaufman FremdKaufman is her name and power was her game. The senior right fielder, who will continue her career at North Park, belted a team-high 9 homers (tied school record) with 41 RBI. "Kayla put up huge numbers in her senior season and hit some of the longest home runs in recent memory," said Fremd coach Jim Weaver. "With 18 extra base hits and 41 RBI, she was right in the middle of most every offensive explosion we had." Kaufman hit 9 doubles and scored 23 runs. "She also matured defensively and played an excellent right field," Weaver added. "She had a strong arm to throw out runners trying to score."
Brianna Leach Elk GroveOnly a junior, Leach was an all-area player for a second straight season as she batted .495 with 21 RBI. "Brianna is an outstanding hitter with a picture-book type swing who understands the strike zone and consequently has consistently positive at-bats," said Elk Grove coach Ken Grams. Leach missed the first eight games of the season due to illness yet ended up with the second-most hits (including 15 doubles and 1 home run). "Defensively, she has made tremendous strides in terms of reading the ball off the bat and making the proper throwing decisions," Grams said. "And she has become a really good defender."
Becca Maher Elk GroveMaher, who hit .578 with a .600 on-base percentage, put together the best season statistically in the history of Elk Grove softball. The senior shortstop, a four-year varsity player, set school records for most hits, home runs (13), extra base hits (42) and doubles (26) in a season while also leading the team in runs and RBI (51) as the leadoff hitter. "It was certainly a truly remarkable performance this season by Becca," said Elk Grove coach Ken Grams. "Her defensive abilities have always been without question. In fact, as outstanding as her offensive performances have been, her defensive skills are at least at the same level as her offensive skills." Grams called Maher as especially alert player. "She was always a step ahead with great anticipation," he said. "Becca was always in the right place at the right time. She was simply an all-around top-grade high school softball player."
Rachel O'Malley ConantO'Malley was 'Oh" so good with her glove and bat. She was a vacuum cleaner at third base and she was able to clean off the bases with her bat, sending a team-high 11 homers out of the park. "Sometimes Rachel is like our third coach," said Conant coach Cathyann Smith of her senior captain and four-year starter who hit .470 this spring with 9 doubles and a team-high 46 RBI. "She loves the game. It shows in every play she makes. She has really grown and matured in her four seasons. She has taught our young players what it takes to be at the top of your game."
Kayla Pociejewski Maine WestPociejewski batted fourth for the Warriors and she truly mastered the role of cleaning up the bases. The sophomore catcher collected a team-high 40 RBI on the strength of 22 extra base hits, including a team-high 11 homers. "As a sophomore, Kayla showed great leadership behind the plate and had timely big hits for us," said Maine West coach Amy Gonzales. "Kayla had a big bat for us in key situations." Pociejewski belted 7 doubles and 5 triples while scoring 28 runs.
Chloe Prodanovic Rolling MeadowsDespite battling a hip injury all season, Prodanovic still managed to put together a stellar senior season for the Mustangs. The center fielder batted a team-high 444 with 11 extra base hits and had an on-base percentage of .500. She was a four-year starter for coach Tony Wolanski. "Chloe was a complete player for us this season," said the veteran coach. "She played excellent defense in center and was one of our best offensive players. Chloe set an example for her younger teammates with her positive attitude and great character."
Grace Rohrwasser PalatineRohrwasser wrapped up her senior season with stellar success, batting .402 with 24 runs, 13 RBI and 2 doubles as the Pirates No. 2 hitter in the batting order. Grace was a complete player for us, offensively and defensively," said Pirates coach Jeff Manz of his second baseman. "I thought she was our best defensive player. I thought Grace really stepped up as a leader this season." A three-year starter, Rohrwasser enjoyed her finest season. "She had a great attitude and worked hard to reach her full potential as a softball player," Manz added. "And I feel like she did."
Angela Schmiederer HerseySchmiederer is headed to a softball future at Iowa after showing her outstanding defensive versatility during her prep career. "She played almost every position," said Hersey coach Molly Freeman. "We would have been lost without her. Her defense really stands out." Schmiederer also contributed with her bat, hitting .327 with 12 RBI. "She has grown leaps and bounds with her offense," Freeman said. "She came through at big times. She just didn't get frazzled." Schmiederer was a four-year starter. "Each year she got better and better which you like to see," Freeman said. "There is not a position she can't play and she likes them all. She was willing to play wherever we needed her."
Megan Sullivan Christian LibertyA three-year starting pitcher, Sullivan was selected to the Northeastern Athletic all-conference each year. She pitched the Chargers to regional titles in 2011 and 2012. The three-sport athlete also won regional championships her senior year in volleyball and basketball to become the only athlete in school history to win a regional in three sports. This season, Sullivan had 124 strikeouts (including 13 in the regional final and 10 in the semifinal) and led the Chargers in batting average, RBI, doubles and stolen bases (more than 50). "Besides being captain, Megan is our Most Valuable Player," Chargers coach Lisa Houdek said. "She pitched every inning of every game. Megan has good ball control and accuracy." She was 3-for-3 in the regional semifinal with 2 doubles and had a double in the championship. Sullivan will attend Indiana Wesleyan University, after scoring a 34 on the ACT and earning a 4.0 GPA.
Rachel Trebswether Prospect She was only a sophomore, but the Knights second baseman had an exemplary season while playing second base where she made only 3 errors in 85 chances for a .965 fielding percentage. "I wish I had a whole team full of Rachel Trebswethers," said Prospect coach Jim Adair."She brings a quiet intensity to everything she does and gives 110 percent of the time." Her time at the plate was just as effective as Trebswether hit .338 with 27 hits and led the team with 19 runs. In conference action, she batted .310 and made only 1 error in 47 chances with 22 putouts. "Rachel is always focused on whatever we're doing and I can count on her to know what to do in any given situation," Adair added. "And she made outstanding play after play all season long."
Elaine Walker SchaumburgWalker walked but she also got on base many others ways. In other words, she served as the model leadoff hitter. "Elaine was a phenomenal leadoff hitter," said Schaumburg coach Ellen Abreu. "She always put the ball in play and was fast on the bases." Walker batted .508 with 64 hits (4- singles, 13 doubles, 1 triple, and 10 home runs). She also collected 35 RBI despite leading off. "Elaine was also great behind the plate," Abreu said. "She moves well and is hard worker who always gives 100 percent."
Nora Walsh PalatineWith two strikes in the count, Walsh made it count. The Pirates junior leadoff hitter often came through in a productive way and led the team with her 53 hits and 30 runs while batting .445 with 2 doubles and 9 RBI. "Nora really focused with two strikes," said Pirates coach Jeff Manz. "She got a ton of hits with two strikes and that's hard to do." Walsh worked hard in the offseason and became one of the top slap hitters in the league. "She is probably the fastest kid I have had from home to first," Manz said. "She put a lot of pressure on defenses. Her confidence grew throughout the season and she improved as the season went on. Nora put in a ton of work in the off-season and we really saw the results."
Erin Ward BarringtonIf the ball was hit anywhere toward shortstop, chances were good that Ward was going to make the play. The senior shortstop (.946 fielding percentage) made only 5 errors all season. "Erin has been tremendously consistent with her glove and throwing accuracy," said Barrington coach Perry Peterson. "Plus, she hits well for average and with power from the leadoff spot." Ward batted .312 with 4 home runs and 20 RBI and was 12-of-12 stealing bases. "Erin was a great example for our younger players," Peterson said.
Tracy Welninski FremdWelninski finished her three-year varsity career with a batting average of .423, second best in Fremd softball history. This spring, she batted .463 with a 2/1 walk to strikeout ratio. She hit with fierce power while also providing speed from the No. 3 spot in the order. "Tracy hit a ball completely out of the Fremd softball complex into the yard of the houses behind the left field (close to 300 feet)," said veteran Vikings coach Jim Weaver. "She combines speed and power, and rarely had a bad at-bat this season." Defensively, Welninski made only 3 errors at second base. "Tracy was our team leader from start to finish," Weaver added. "She is a tireless worker who really matured this year into a professional hitter."
Cassie Zouras HerseyThe highlight of Zouras' first season on the varsity was a pair of game-winning home runs. The junior first baseman batted .411 to help spark the Huskies' batting order from the cleanup spot. "Cassie played a big role for us in the fourth spot," said Hersey coach Molly Freeman. "And she was very dependable at first base." Despite being a rookie on the varsity squad, Zouras was hardly fazed. "There really weren't any teams who intimidated her," Freeman said. "Her .411 batting average was outstanding. She pretty much made contact against all the pitchers she faced in our conference."
Player School Pos. Yr.
Dream Aaron Conant C So.
Sam Acosta Hoffman Estates SS Sr.
Paige Alt Schaumburg P-1B So.
Elisa Ambrose Conant CF Jr.
Brooke Barges Elk Grove 1B Sr.
Dea Barton Buffalo Grove SS Jr.
Julia Camardo Buffalo Grove P Jr.
Emily Carnes Buffalo Grove C So.
Caitlin Catino Buffalo Grove CF Jr.
Katie Dehnert Barrington 1B Sr.
Keenan Dolezal Barrington P Jr.
DeeDee Durr Conant SS-OF Jr.
Leigh Farina Fremd SS Sr.
Shannon Felde Schaumburg P Jr.
Alyssa Garcia Fremd CF So.
Krystal Harris St. Viator CF-P Jr.
Abbey Herling Maine West CF SR.
Sam Hogan St. Viator P Sr.
Telly Hunter Conant 2B Sr.
Jennifer Inamoto Barrington 3B Sr.
Kayla Kaufman Fremd RF Sr.
Brianna Leach Elk Grove CF Jr.
Becca Maher Elk Grove SS Sr.
Rachel O'Malley Conant 3B Sr.
Kayla Pociejewski Maine West C So.
Chloe Prodanovic Rolling Meadows CF Sr.
Grace Rohrwasser Palatine 2B Sr.
Angela Schmiederer Hersey C-OF Sr.
Megan Sullivan Christian Liberty P Sr.
Rachel Trebswether Prospect 2B So.
Elaine Walker Schaumburg C Jr.
Nora Walsh Palatine LF Jr.
Erin Ward Barrington SS Sr.
Tracy Welninski Fremd 2B Sr.
Cassie Zouras Hersey 1B Jr.
Special mentionJasmine Avalos (Buffalo Grove), Katie Conley (Buffalo Grove), Aleece Duffy (Elk Grove), Megan Eul (Elk Grove), Grace Feldkamp (Maine West), Jordyn Fera (Hoffman Estates), Lauren Grzelak (Conant), Kristen Hackel (St. Viator), Michelle Helminski (Hersey), Kaileen Hendle (Hoffman Estates), Abby Iuorio (Fremd), Julie Josten (Fremd), Tess Kaiser (St. Viator), Kelly Katis (Barrington), Roxanne Kakareka (Schaumburg), Carly Kordich (Barrington), Corey Kramer (Christian Liberty), Rachel Krzysko (Barrington), Monica Liwag (Maine West), Alex Masnica (Elk Grove), Gina Mastrodomenico (St. Viator), Nikki Mikosz (Wheeling), Taylor Moran (Barrington), Maddie Morgan (Rolling Meadows), Molly Muhs (Fremd), Sara Neuman (Conant), Maggie Pancini (Prospect), Alyssa Pegoraro (Maine West), Kat Panos (Barrington), Jenna Pavlik (Christian Liberty), Katie Quagliano (Wheeling), Hailey Rothstein (Conant), Grace Skorin (Rolling Meadows), Holly Straup (Fremd), Cam VanValkenburg (St. Viator), Alissa Wachal (Conant), Jenn West (Christian Liberty), Lane Winkler (Rolling Meadows)
Capsules written by John Leusch