Some times the toughest thing about going away to college is leaving your family.
Not a problem for Hersey softball standout Makayla Tsagalis.
She will be joining family.
The Huskies all-area softball center fielder has made a verbal commitment to play softball at the University of South Dakota, where her brother Tyler is a quarterback for the football team.
"The first time we went to visit the school I just knew that this was the school for me," Makayla said. "USD is located in a small town, Vermillion, but everyone in the town and at the university loves their sports teams and backs them 100 percent."
Makayla's brother holds the Niles Notre Dame records for single-season passing yards (1,970) and single-season passing touchdowns (18) which he set in his senior season. He was named an honorable mention all-state pick and helped the Dons to an 8-2 record in 2015 and the program's first conference title since 1981.
Makayla helped Hersey's softball team to its first divisional title since 1995 last spring when she batted .500 with 3 home runs, 12 doubles and 32 runs.
As a freshman, Tsagalis began attending the USD softball camps and started building a relationship with the softball coaches.
As time went on, she knew she wanted to attend the school and play softball for coach Robert Wagner and his staff.
"Since I was much younger, playing D-1 softball was always my goal," said Makayla, who plans to be a pre-med major. "I watched college softball and I wanted to play the sport."
Her parents Angelo and Julie got Makalya involved with softball and gymnastics at a very young age.
She trained hard in both sports but softball became her passion.
"That's where my heart was," she said. "I decided in seventh grade to focus more on softball and put gymnastics aside, until I decided to return to gymnastics my sophomore year and compete for the Huskies."
Hersey coach Molly Freeman has seen Makayla compete in stellar fashion at the top of her batting order.
"Makayla has done a phenomenal job as our leadoff batter," Freeman said following last season. "She understood her role was to get on base which she did in half of her at-bats this season."
Tsagalis put up a .552 on-base percentage for the MSL East and regional champions.
"Makayla has the rare talent of both power and speed at the plate," Freeman added. "She uses that speed to benefit her defense as well. She successfully runs down every ball that is hit out to left. She was a key player for us both offensively and defensively."
Tsagalis is looking forward to picking up where she left off this spring.
"I'm very excited for the upcoming softball season," she said. "And I'm looking forward on seeing what we can do as a team. I cannot wait to put on the uniform and play the sport that I love. I want to continue learning and improving my game so that I can put on the USD uniform and be ready to play college softball."
Saint Louis University senior guard Jackie Kemph (Rolling Meadows) was named the College Sports Madness' Atlantic 10 Conference women's basketball 'Player of the Week' for her performances against Massachusetts and Saint Joseph.
Kemph led the Billikens (10-9, 4-2) with 20 points and 5 assists while playing all 40 minutes in a 64-63 win over UMass on Jan. 18. She also had 4 rebounds and 1 steal.
In a 96-73 triumph over Saint Joseph, Kemph turned in game highs of 21 points and 13 assists for her fourth double-double of the season and 15th of her career. She shot 53.8 percent (14-of-26) from the field and 81.3 percent (13-of-16) from the foul line in the two games, and she produced a 3-to-1 assist-turnover ratio.
Kemph broke the Saint Louis career record for free throws made during the UMass game, her third Billiken career mark (points, assists).
Kemph leads the A-10 and ranks fourth in the nation in assists (7.8 apg). She carries a 2.87-to-1 assist-turnover ratio, good for second in the conference and 15th in the nation. Kemph is 10th in the league in free throw percentage (. 800) and 13th in scoring (team-high 14.8 ppg).
• Denver freshman guard Claire Gritt (Hersey) scored 17 points in a 118-93 loss to visiting Western Illinois, 118-93 as the two teams combined for a NCAA record 36 3-pointers. Gritt shot 50 percent clip (7-for-13) from the field and 60 percent (3-for-5) from 3-point range.
Gritt also had a s team-high 15 points to lead the Pioneers in an 82-60 loss to South Dakota. She shot 50 percent (6-for-12) from the field.
Quincy senior Bobby Frasco (Prospect) registered his sixth double-digit scoring game of the season with 14 points in a 76-75 loss to Lewis College.
Frasco's jumper gave the Hawks a 13-point lead with 5:12 left to play but the Flyers rallied and hit the winning 3-pointer with 11 seconds left in the game for the 76-75 margin.
Frasco has started all 20 games for the Hawks (7-13, 3-8 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference), averaging nearly 9 points per game.
• University of South Florida coach Brian Gregory (Hersey) gained his first American Athletic Conference victory as head coach of the Bulls with an 80-75 win over Tulane. It was the Bulls' eighth win on the season, one more than their total from the entire 2016-17 season.
Tulane (12-8, 3-5 AAC) scored the first basket of the game, but USF (8-13, 1-7 AAC) followed with 10 straight points and never relinquished the lead.
Iowa State redshirt sophomore Dana Liva (Prospect) was named the co-Big 12 Diver of the Week, her first conference diver of the week award.
She was awarded for her performance in the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series where she notched a NCAA Zone qualifying mark on the one-meter board, scoring a season-best 271.60, good for second place. She also posted a 271.20 to place third on the three-meter.
Liva, who began her career at Wisconsin, has been an outstanding addition to the Cyclone diving squad.
She currently is the third-best platform performer in school history, highlighted by a 253.20 score on the platform at the Mizzou Invite, good for fourth overall. In addition to her success on the platform, she continues to perform at a high level in the other two disciplines.
"Dana has consistently been one of our top performers all season long," said Cyclones diving coach Jeff Warrick on the school's website. "This a great honor for her, and we are very proud of her."
"It's a huge honor," Liva said. "I am so blessed with Jeff (Warrick, the Cyclones diving coach) and my teammates. I couldn't have done it without them. I'm really happy to represent ISU."
In the meet following her recognition, Liva took top honors on the one-meter board (269.45) when the Cyclones (4-2, 1-0 Big 12) topped Northern Iowa 188.5-110.5.
• University of Findlay freshman Sarah Miles, who attended Hoffman Estates High School and swam for the Palatine Park District Tiger Sharks, won the 200-yard freestyle in a home dual-meet victory over Tiffin University. Miles won the 200 free in 2:01.81. The Oilers women outscored Tiffin 228-43 and finished the regular season 6-0 in home dual meets.
Miles also finished fourth in the 100 butterfly with a time of 1:03.17. She swam in both the 200 medley relay and the 200 freestyle relay. Next up for Miles and Findlay is the Great Midwest Athletic Conference meet, Feb. 14-17.
Hope College sophomore Jason Dean is one of seven players who will golf this spring for the top 10 Division III for the nationally-ranked Flying Dutch. Dean was a straight A student last fall while majoring in engineering.
Augustana senior Josh Yamamoto (Fremd) was part of the Vikings winning 4X400 meet relay team at the Monmouth Invitational which earned College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin Athlete of the Week honors.
Yamamoto and his three senior partners ran a 3:20.75 to win by nearly three-quarters of a second. That time, when converted for track size, is the fastest in the nation at the Division III level this season.
Yamamoto is also a three-time all-American and owns three CCIW titles. He is majoring in secondary education and biology.
Augustana sophomore Adam Smith (Palatine) was part of the Vikings' second-place 800 freestyle relay (7:22.59)
at the Grinnell Invitational in Iowa. The Vikings placed third in the team standings with 858 points. Vikings sophomore Ben Peinsipp (St. Viator) was a member of the fourth-place 200 freestyle relay team which was clocked in 1:30.44.
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