By John Lemon
Katie Arrambide St. Charles East
This freshman burst on the scene this spring, going 17-4 for the Upstate Eight Conference River champion Saints. In 130 innings, Arrambide struck out 165 batters and allowed 94 hits and 28 walks. Finished with a 2.15 ERA and won Pitcher of the Year in the Upstate Eight River. Also batted .309 with 17 RBI. "She throws hard, moves the ball well," St. Charles East coach Jarod Gutesha said. "A competitor. She doesn't like to lose. She doesn't get too high or too low. Things are going bad or things are going great it's the same approach out there."
Julia Barnes Burlington Central
The senior was key to the Rockets' 18-6 season both in the circle and at the plate. The right-hander went 11-4 with a 1.52 ERA striking out 73 batters in 87 innings. At the plate Barnes hit .423 with 4 doubles, 3 home runs, 21 RBI, 27 runs, a .505 on-base percentage and .592 slugging percentage. "Julia helped us not only defensively with her pitching but did a great job leading off for our team this season," Burlington Central coach Erica Snyder said. "It's been wonderful to coach her the last two seasons and see her grow as a player. We wish her all the best in the fall."
Casey Brennan South Elgin
A dynamo in center field who took away hits in the gap and cut down runners taking an extra base with her rocket arm, this junior also was dangerous at the plate. Brennan batted .521 with a .591 on-base percentage and .904 slugging percentage. Brennan had 14 doubles, 5 triples and 4 home runs. She scored 37 runs and drove in 39 for the Storm, who won their first conference championship. Brennan earned Upstate Eight Valley Player of the Year. "She's a beast," South Elgin coach Brad Reynard said. "She's saw the ball real well and was aggressive and got herself in good hitters counts. She's a great hitter, got great fundamentals and overall is really good."
Dani Brown Aurora Central Catholic
Only a sophomore and committed to Loyola, Brown's 11-10 record was deceiving. She lost one game throwing a 1-hitter with 20 strikeouts, another throwing a 2-hitter with 17 strikeouts and a third tossing a 3-hitter with 17 strikeouts. Even her 1.73 ERA is misleading -- 7 of those runs came in 38-degree weather with snow flurries when she couldn't grip the ball against Riverside-Brookfield, according to coach Tom Babyar. Brown struck out 216 batters in just 105 innings with a 0.876 WHIP. At the plate Brown batted .403 with 9 doubles. "She did all that with a bad knee," Babyar said. "She's having surgery next week."
Maddie Candre St. Charles East
The senior was instrumental in the team's 25-7, Upstate Eight River championship season with her play in center field, her production at the plate and her leadership helping several promising young players fit in. Candre batted .430 with a .520 on-base percentage and .674 slugging percentage. The Wisconsin-Stevens Point recruit had 9 doubles and 4 home runs, walking 16 times and only striking out 5. Had 18 RBI and 25 runs. "Obviously her performance on the field, a natural leader there just on her stats, but emotionally she was a big reason that she wanted this team to be good as far as chemistry goes," St. Charles East coach Jarod Gutesha said. "She put a lot of pride into that. I think she was a big reason why we were so successful this year with such a diverse group."
Cassidy Carby Batavia
The freshman shortstop started the year hitting sixth but quickly showed Batavia coach Lupe Castellanos that she belonged higher in the order. Ended up hitting .474 with a .554 on-base percentage and .884 slugging percentage. Hit 9 home runs, 9 doubles and 2 triples while scoring 38 runs and driving in 38. "She's solid," Castellanos said. "For a freshman she doesn't carry herself like a freshman, she carries herself more like a senior. She's a confident player. She believes in her abilities. She started hitting and I moved her to the 3-hole and she stayed there all season. She hit like a senior. She's got a great future."
Carly Chovanec Crystal Lake South
The Bradley-bound catcher hit .463 with 8 doubles, 5 triples and 5 home runs for an .811 slugging percentage. Scored 37 runs and drove in 23. "She is, in my opinion, the best defensive catcher in the FVC," Crystal Lake South coach Scott Busam said. "She basically single-handedly stops the opposing teams' running game. That said, she is also one of our best outfielders, our leadoff hitter, and our best clutch hitter this season. She is also a brilliant, crafty baserunner."
Ali Dierks Geneva
Headed to DePauw, Dierks went 13-6 with a 2.35 ERA and 115 strikeouts in 122 innings in her senior season. Also hit .304 with a .663 slugging percentage. Blasted 8 home runs including a walk-off 3-run shot to beat St. Charles North in the bottom of the eighth inning. Drove in 32 runs. Ended up fourth in school history in wins (34) and home runs (15) and first in winning percentage (.708). "Her contributions to our success this year happened on the mound and at the plate," Geneva coach Greg Dierks said. "Ali also had a great year in the field making only 1 error for the season. Her enthusiasm for the game and her desire to win was a daily boost to the team."
Alyssa Eby St. Charles North
A three-year varsity player who has moved from second base to the outfield and spent her senior year at first base, Eby came on strong in the postseason to help the North Stars win their third sectional title in the last four years. Eby batted .359 with 10 doubles and 13 RBI. Only struck out 3 times in 90 plate appearances. "I've always felt she's one of the better hitters we've had here with her approach," St. Charles North coach Tom Poulin said. "She only swings at strikes whether it's first pitch or late in the count. She always gets good contact even when she gets out. She's a great gap-to-gap contact hitter. She's the person you want up in crucial situation. She's tough as nails."
Emilee Erickson Kaneland
The sophomore pitched the Knights to the Class 3A state tournament, winning five postseason games including an 11-1 decision over Vernon Hills in the supersectional. Also held a 29-2 Sterling team to 2 runs in the sectional semifinals. Enters state with a 19-4 record, 1.96 ERA and 194 strikeouts in 124 innings. "In my mind she's pitching well above her years," Kaneland coach Mike Kuefler said. "As a sophomore she's started to speak up on the field and in the dugout and become that leader on the diamond."
Tiffany Giese Huntley
The senior, who will play at Wisconsin-Green Bay next year, set Huntley's all-time wins record. Finished 24-3 in the circle, and her numbers at the plate were even better. Huntley's leadoff hitter batted .597, stole 40 bases, had 83 hits and scored 64 runs. Had a .643 on-base percentage. "Words cannot describe the offensive season Tiffany had," Huntley coach Mark Petryniec said. "She has broken many of our team offensive records. She is the sparkplug at the top of our lineup and is consistently putting pressure on opposing teams both hitting and stealing bases. Tiffany has ice in her veins and pitches her best when there is the most pressure. Tiffany has left very big shoes to fill from our underclassmen and has done a phenomenal job leading our team this year."
Ashlyn Jozefowicz St. Charles North
The senior center fielder led St. Charles North with 29 runs while batting .392. Also excelled defensively in helping her team win the Class 4A Fremd sectional. Will attend Indiana University. "She's had her best season," St. Charles North coach Tom Poulin said. "She's very good defensively. She's good with the bat, she's got decent wheels. She knows the game, she could coach it. She's got a high softball IQ. She makes sure everyone has fun and keeps everyone loose but also is competitive. We're going to miss her around here."
Autumn Kasal Huntley
A 4-year varsity starter, Kasal played shortstop on a Huntley team that set a school record with 32 wins. She hit .472 with 10 doubles and 11 home runs, scoring 44 runs and driving in 62. The home runs set a school record. Will attend the University of Illinois next year, studying to become a doctor. "Autumn had a career year in average, home runs and RBI," Huntley coach Mark Petryniec said. "Autumn is batting .475 with runners in scoring position and has proven to be one of our most clutch hitters. She has been a leader on the field and in the classroom at Huntley High. We have been very fortunate to have the quality of character of a player like Autumn in our program."
Katie Keller Geneva
The Northern Illinois-bound catcher and two-time All-Area captain batted .526, got on base at a .670 clip and slugged at .961. Had 10 doubles, 4 triples and 5 home runs, drove in 31 runs and stole 14 bases while only striking out twice. Earned Upstate Eight River Player of the Year. In one stretch reached base 17 straight times. Geneva's career leader in doubles (43), batting average (.539), slugging (.946) and walks (67) and second in numerous other categories including home runs (22). "Her hitting draws so much attention that it is easy to overlook what a great job she does behind the plate and what a good baserunner she has become," Geneva coach Greg Dierks said. "She loves playing softball and she shows that every practice and at every game."
Jaelen Lisberg Batavia
This senior third-year varsity player set the tone for Batavia's 20-win season that included a pair of victories over St. Charles North. While excelling defensively in center field, Lisberg batted .394 with 13 doubles, 4 triples and 5 home runs. Lisberg drove in 30 runs and scored 31. Will attend the University of Illinois. "Jalen is one of the best hitters I've coached since I've been here," Batavia coach Lupe Castellanos said. "She has a nice approach. She's got one of the better swings I've seen. She's our sparkplug at the top of our lineup. I knew she would get our offense going."
Rose Roach Kaneland
The freshman is going to be a force on the softball scene the next three years after tearing the cover off the ball in her first year. In addition to playing stellar defense at shortstop, Roach batted .398 with 6 home runs, 10 doubles, 4 triples, 35 runs, 19 stolen bases and 26 RBI, slugging .717 heading into this weekend's Class 3A state tournament. "She is a kid you put on the field you don't have to say a thing," Kaneland coach Mike Kuefler said. "She's just so engaged. If you think you need her to be somewhere she's there. She's got a great natural instinct for this game. She's just getting better and better. We really enjoy Rose's presence on the field and at the plate. She's really an exceptional player."
Taylor Rotondo Bartlett
Headed to St. Ambrose, the senior leaves Bartlett as the school's all-time home run leader with 29. Ten of those came this year with a .430 average, .871 slugging percentage, 22 runs, 11 doubles and 27 RBI. Four-year varsity player. "Taylor had a phenomenal year and three in a row on the varsity," Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith said. "She's been a phenomenal hitter for us, underrated defender. Good team leader. Big power bat."
Sydney Ruggles Dundee-Crown
After winning 21 games with a 1.96 ERA and 264 strikeouts during an All-Area season as a junior, this Loyola-bound senior followed up with another dominating spring. A win over Huntley highlighted her 19-win season that saw her strike out 276 in 187 innings. Had a 1.83 ERA and .972 WHIP. Also batted .365 with 2 home runs and 19 RBI. "Sydney has taken on the pitching responsibility for four years and has never given up on our team," Dundee-Crown coach Tracy Beatty said. "She steps in the circle with confidence and is always composed. There's not a day that she doesn't give her team 100 percent. Her dream was to play Division I softball and her dream has come true."
Donatela Sommesi Kaneland
The leadoff hitter on Kaneland's 26-9, state-bound team, the sophomore second baseman is batting .515 with a .743 slugging percentage and 1.318 OPS. Has 12 doubles and 4 triples, walking 16 times and scoring 39 runs with 19 RBI. Stole 17 bases. "That kid is the epitome of a leadoff hitter," Kaneland coach Mike Kuefler said. "She'll look at pitches, she'll take herself to 0-2, 1-2 and still hit .537. The kid is amazing with what she can do at the plate. She sees the ball well, puts the ball in play every single time."
Maddy Stout St. Charles East
This junior left fielder and University of Indianapolis recruit batted .429 and led the Saints with 31 RBI, 13 doubles, 3 triples and 5 home runs. Stout had an .802 slugging percentage and 1.277 OPS and came on strong in the second half of the season as St. Charles East went 25-7 and won the Upstate Eight River championship. "She got off to a slow start and then the second half of the season she was lights out," St. Charles East coach Jarod Gutesha said. "She was hitting the ball hard almost every single at-bat. And she was drawing walks too. She was seeing the ball. That was something in years past she hasn't done as well is seeing pitches that weren't strikes and taking them."
Emily Sulikowski Crystal Lake South
A two-time All-Area selection, this junior third baseman only struck out twice in 103 plate appearances. She already holds five school records. Batted .513 with a .618 on-base percentage and .936 slugging percentage. She belted 7 home runs, 8 doubles and drove in 33 runs while scoring 35. "Her stats are pretty amazing," Crystal Lake South coach Scott Busam said. "I think, sometimes, because she is such a strong offensive player, people overlook how talented she is at third base. She is easily one of our best defensive players."
Sophia Tenuta Huntley
A third-year starting catcher, Tenuta threw out 6 of 16 runners trying to steal this year for the FVC champion Raiders. Only allowed 2 passed balls with a .996 fielding percentage. Tenuta hit .471 with 8 doubles, 8 home runs and 62 RBI. "Soph has been a model of consistency behind the plate for us the last three years," Huntley coach Mark Petryniec said. "She does an excellent job running our defense every year. Offensively she has done an incredible job driving in runs this season. She is a great kid to have on our team and will be very fortunate to have her in the middle of our lineup next season."
Janelle Ulaszek Bartlett
The senior had a strong season at the plate and in the circle, batting .382 with 24 RBI and going 11-5. After splitting time with Amber Pagan in the circle early in the season, Ulaszek took a bigger role after an injury to Pagan and pitched the Hawks to a regional title with wins over Glenbard West and Prospect. "Janelle had a good all-around year for us," Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith said. "She carried us on the mound in big games."
Jillian Waslawski St. Charles North
A four-year workhorse in the circle, Waslawski pitched the North Stars to three sectional championships. In her senior season Waslawski went 14-9 with a 2.51 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 136 innings. At the plate she hit .300 with 18 RBI, 8 doubles and 19 runs. Waslawski is headed to Indiana University as a student and possibly walking on the softball team. "She just really buckles down and locks in during the tournament," St. Charles North coach Tom Poulin said. "She and (assistant coach) Thjis (Dennison) and (catcher) Grace Quinn work so well together and communicate well. She's been there so often in the tournament there's nothing that shakes her. She is a nice person, incredible student. She's so good at softball but she's really a better person."
Aurora Central Catholic -- Izzy Hernandez, Alheli Velazquez
Batavia -- Allison Bahlmann, Kaylan Waldron, Noelle Chaney
Bartlett -- Amber Pagan, Charlotte Linnartz, Dani Kleeman
Burlington Central -- Reili Gardner, Danielle Yurgil
Cary-Grove -- Emma Hill, Kelly Johnson
Crystal Lake South -- Maddie Bush, Lauren Schoen
Dundee-Crown -- Deanna Origer, Claire Weeks
Geneva -- Katie Geary, Emily Viebrock
Hampshire -- Sarah Bowen, Delaney Rummell, Morgan Haefling
Huntley -- Grace Kutz, Teaghan O'Rilley, Marley Reicher
Jacobs -- Kerri Healy, Jessica Mrzlak, Katie Armstrong
Kaneland -- Hailey Roach, Hannah Theobald
Larkin -- Liz Bowman, Haley Bohne
Rosary -- Mikayla Cassidy, Xandria Olsen
South Elgin -- Julianna Battaglia, Sami Koss, Sidney Strama, Geneva Pollman
St. Charles East -- Sara Campagna, Paige Ligocki
St. Charles North -- Grace Quinn
St. Edward -- Jess Kramp, Sarah Mendoza, Ashley Miller
Streamwood -- Tessa Freedman, Taylyr Crocilla, Becky Roncone
West Aurora -- Gab Drager, Janae Holloway, Gabi Nilles, Sophia Delgado