The 2016 Daily Herald DuPage County All-Area Softball Team

Kristen Bialek, Downers Grove South

"As our leadoff hitter she's the igniter to our offense and she's always getting on base either by hit or by walks," Mustangs coach Ron Havelka said of his four-year second baseman. "Against us a lot of balls are hit to the right side and she's done a great job for us." Bialek, who will play at Murray State, took a .420 batting average into the Class 4A supersectional and is the school's all-time leader in stolen bases while also scoring 192 runs, including a whopping 75 in 2015.

Dani Biesiada, Naperville North

The two-time unanimous all-DuPage Valley Conference player was a three-year starter and will attend Wisconsin-Whitewater next year as a pitcher and utility player. She holds the Huskies' single-season record for home runs with 11 in 2015 and is third all-time in home runs. "Dani hit the ball hard just about every at-bat and without anyone to protect her teams didn't give her too much to hit," coach Jerry Kedziora said of the Huskies' MVP. "She saved our season by stepping up and pitching so well for us this year, and her ability to field her position so well got us (and her) out of so many jams."

Amy Bukovsky, Montini

This four-year varsity starter helped lead the program's recent surge as part of 116 wins (into the Class 3A supersectional), four regional and two sectional championships and three conference titles. "A very unselfish, team player, who takes pride in doing the little things to win like playing defense, baserunning and bunting," coach Mike Bukovsky says of his shortstop and daughter, who has a team-high 17 sacrifices. She was a big part of the Broncos' offensive production as well, scoring 41 runs, with 10 doubles, 5 HR, 37 RBI and a .481 batting average heading into this week's action. The three-time all-conference selection and two-time all-state selection has signed to play at Lewis University in the fall.

Payton Carli, Glenbard South

The four-year starter helped the Raiders win four regional crowns, and the speedy center fielder was named all-Metro Suburban Conference the last three seasons and the league MVP this spring. "Saying I am going to miss this kid is an understatement. She has become an extension of me on the field. She knows what I want and when I want it," coach Julie Fonda said. "She has had a really amazing senior year statistically, but it will be the intangibles that I will miss the most." Carli paced the team with 59 hits, 52 runs and a .596 average heading in the Class 3A sectional round, while swiping 52 bases in 54 attempts.

Ashley Cohen, Glenbard South

Cohen came up huge in the circle, at shortstop and at the plate for a 25-win team that reached the Sweet Sixteen in Class 3A. "One of the most versatile players I have coached and just by the look of her you would not expect the power she has with the bat," coach Julie Fonda said. "Pitching, fielding, hitting, bunting, she does it all. Ashley is not replaceable." She was 14-4 as a pitcher heading into the sectional round with 124 strikeouts in 108⅓ innings. She hit .535 with 7 home runs and 62 RBI.

Nikki Cuchran, Montini

In just two varsity seasons the sophomore third baseman has accumulated eye-popping stats: 126 hits, 31 doubles, 4 triples, 24 home runs, 46 walks, 105 RBI and a batting average of .586. The two-time all-state selection, and two-time Daily Herald first-team selection has batted .604 this spring and is a finalist for the Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year Award. "Nikki is a devastating hitter and shows extreme discipline and unselfishness at the plate, as she is more than happy to take a walk for her team, when opponents frequently pitch around her," coach Mike Bukovsky said of Cuchran, who holds every single-season Montini hitting record and has committed to DePaul University.

Dina Falk, Lake Park

The Lancers co-captain batted .500 this spring and was named DuPage Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Year after batting better than .600 in league games for the conference champs. "She's an all-around great player and a person deserving of All-Area honors," coach James Chellson said of his center fielder and team MVP. Falk excelled on defense with a perfect fielding percentage, stole 26 bases for Lake Park, and Chellson noted her exceptional on- and off-field leadership skills as a key factor in the team's success.

Lindsay Gonzalez, Naperville Central

The four-year starter for the Redhawks, who won the DuPage Valley Conference title three of those four years, was a solid shortstop and a team leader this spring. She led the Redhawks this year with a .392 average, 40 hits, and 34 runs scored, and also had 6 triples and 9 doubles. As a freshman, she led a team that started the season 29-0 with 31 RBI. "Lindsay was a key player in our success in the last four years. She is an outstanding fielder, and for her size she is one of the most powerful hitters in the area," Redhawks coach Andy Nussbaum said.

Melissa Gonzalez, IC Catholic Prep

The catcher/third baseman had a memorable season for sure, breaking ICCP records for batting average, RBI, triples and hits in a season while also setting all-time record marks for RBI, triples, HR and hits. "Her year was one for the records," said coach Frank Reaber. "Melissa has had a tremendous year for us." This spring she hit .609 with 67 hits, including 12 triples and 5 home runs. Gonzalez also drove home 55 runs for the Knights in 2016.

Natalie Grubczak, Lake Park

The Lancers freshman burst onto the softball scene and came away with Player of the Year honors in the DuPage Valley Conference after pitching her team to the league championship. "She is a workhorse in the circle and hopefully this is just the tip of the iceberg for what's to come from her the next three years," coach James Chellson said. Grubczak went 22-4 and added a pair of saves while striking out 144 batters. In the regional final against top-seeded St. Charles North, she allowed just 3 hits and one earned run in a tough 2-1 defeat.

Caroline Hedgcock, Downers Grove South

The Arkansas recruit has starred for four seasons at the plate and on the mound and is the Daily Herald All-Area team captain after a brilliant senior campaign. "She's a leader and she's one of the most competitive players I've ever coached in my 24-year career," coach Ron Havelka said. "She's not only been an outstanding pitcher for us, she's been an outstanding hitter." After leading her team to the Class 4A supersectional, she boasts a four-year 60-12 pitching mark - 45-4 over the last three years - and holds the Mustangs record for HR all-time (37) and in a season (22). The four-year all-conference honoree also has a Downers Grove best 182 RBI, with a record total of 68 last spring and 68 more heading into this week.

Maya Keating, Wheaton Warrenville South

This three-year varsity starter at SS has been a unanimous all-conference selection in the DVC for the last 2 years and will play at St. Cloud State. "Maya is a leader on and off the field. She has a determination that pushes her to a different level," Tigers coach Jeffrey Pawlak said. "She is a competitor and understands how to play the game the right way all the time." Keating hit .500 with an on base percentage of .582, along with 29 runs, 38 hits and 12 stolen bases.

Kara Leckinger, Metea Valley

This Mustangs senior was a leader behind the plate and also led the team at the plate with a .404 average this spring. "Kara had an incredible month of May, came through with several 2-out RBI hits, was a vocal leader on the field, and called a great game from behind the plate," coach Kris Kalivas said. "Kara always made an impact for us this season and was key during our winning streaks." She played all 31 games, was second on the team with 27 RBI and shared the team lead in hits with 42.

Megan LoBianco, Downers Grove South

The slick-fielding infielder has been all-conference for three years, played shortstop for a program that has gone 70-5 the last two years heading into the supersectional, and bats cleanup for a loaded lineup. "She's only made three errors all year which is phenomenal for a shortstop," coach Ron Havelka said of the St. Louis University recruit, who was named second team all-state in 2015. "She's a good clutch hitter who has driven in a lot of big runs for us." LoBianco took a .454 batting average into Monday's action.

Gabby Magnifco, York

As a freshman in 2013, she was pulled up on varsity during playoffs to help a Dukes team to a fourth-place finish at state. After that she was a starter, first at second base and then this spring at shortstop. "Gabby has been a key member of the offense and defense all three years as a starter and the coaches and players could not be happier for all of her accomplishments," coach Jenna Nolan said of Magnifico, who will continue her softball career at Valparaiso. "We will truly miss having her in the program." Through the team's regional title, she batted .393 with 8 HR and 32 RBI and was named all-conference a third time.

Katie Polaski, Downers Grove North

A three-year starter for a strong Trojans program, the junior second baseman hit .531 this spring with 3 HR, 2 triples, 19 RBI and 34 runs scored. "Katie is a Loyola commit who regularly gets on base and sets the trend for the game," coach Eric Landschoot said. "Her offensive and defensive abilities are second to none. Katie is a leader both on and off the field and you would be hard pressed to find a better all-around softball player than Katie."

Savannah Rodriguez, Downers Grove North

Only a sophomore, she was a big part of the Trojans' 24-6 success this spring. At the plate she batted .443 with 12 doubles, 5 HR, 22 RBI and 23 runs, while on the mound she was 12-6 with a 1.94 ERA and 105 strikeouts in 115 innings. "Savannah is only a sophomore and has a very bright future ahead of her, both at the plate and on the mound," said coach Eric Landschoot. "Savannah is more than just a hard-thrower - she gets good movement on her pitches and is great at working the count and exploiting the weakness of each hitter she faces."

Alyssa Sclafani, Montini

A four-year varsity starter at catcher, the Bronco has 13 HR and 54 RBI this spring and is a difference maker both offensively and defensively. With a canon of an arm, she regularly threw out base stealers and picked off runners to thwart opponents' running games. "She has been a workhorse behind the plate, always demonstrating toughness and resiliency," coach Mike Bukovsky said. She holds Montini records for home runs with 38 and RBI with 193 and is one of the strongest hitters ever to play at Montini. The four-time all conference and all state selection has signed to play at Loyola University next year.

Shelby Winkelman, St. Francis

The Spartans sophomore came up big in 2016 and was voted all-conference and Player of the Year in the GCAC White Division. She hit an impressive .540 with 45 RBI for a team that posted a 27-2 mark before falling in the Class 3A sectionals to Glenbard South. As a pitcher she went 14-1. "Shelby is a hard worker who is very competitive," coach Ralph Remus said. "She was starting at third base as a freshman and pitched a little, but this year she is our mainstay and our leading hitter."

Veronica Zahn, Waubonsie Valley

The senior center fielder led a young Warriors squad this spring and picked up unanimous all-DuPage Valley Conference honors along the way. She batted .441 with 45 Hits, 5 doubles, 3 triples, 22 runs and 11 stolen bases. "Veronica makes an impact on our team every day. She always looks for ways to improve her game and do what is best for the team," coach Val Wood said.

Honorable mention

Ellie Wassmann (Fenton, jr., OF); Amanda Posegay (Glenbard West, sr., 3B); Payton Buresch (Downers Grove South, jr., P); Julia Chatterjee (Hinsdale Central, soph., SS); Madison Ebeling (Wheaton Academy, soph., SS); Abby Solem (York, sr., 3B); Nicole Bowman (Downers Grove South, sr., OF); Aly Miller (Glenbard South, sr., C); Julia Casear (Lake Park, sr., 3B); Stephanie Wilczynski (Waubonsie Valley, sr., P); Erica Krause (Lisle, sr., C); Maggie Will (Wheaton North, sr., CF); Danielle Olsen (Neuqua Valley, soph., C); Kaitlyn Scheitler (Glenbard North, fresh., 1B); Holli Jones (Hinsdale South, sr., C): Carlee Jo Clark (St. Francis, fresh., P/2B); Josie Lyton (IC Catholic Prep, soph., C); Sydney Young (Wheaton Warrenville South, sr., OF); Zoe Varsbergs (Downers Grove North, jr., 1B); Zoe Dannenberg (Willowbrook, sr., P/OF).

Dani Biesiada of Naperville North softball.
Amy Bukovsky
Payton Carli
Ashley Cohen
Nikki Cuchran
Dina Falk
Lindsay Gonzalez
Melissa Gonzalez
Natalie Grubczak
Caroline Hedgcock
Maya Keating
Kara Leckinger
Megan LoBianco
Gabby Magnifico
Katie Polaski
Savannah Rodriguez
Alyssa Sclafani
Shelby Winkelman of St. Francis High School.
Veronica Zahn
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