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MID-SUBURBAN WEST

Barrington

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Coach: Perry Peterson (21st season)

Last year's record: 30-8, 11-5

Graduated players: Ally McLaughlin, Vasi Panos, K.D. Madden, Danielle Di Iorio, Jordan Wekony, Emma Woods, Kelsey Kazmier

Returning varsity players: Alexa Rebecca (Sr. OF), Keenan Dolezal (So. P), Krista Moore (Sr. IF), Maggie O'Hara (Sr. OF-C-IF), Raegan Fingerman (Sr. C-IF), Morgan Olszewski (Sr. OF), Loren Krzysko (Sr. IF), Cassidy Kraimer (Sr. P), Tess Bolger (Sr. OF), Erin Ward (Jr. IF)

Newcomers: Jenna Privatsky (Jr. OF). Sam Rosenfeld (Sr. OF), Katie Dehnert (Jr. IF)

Outlook: Inducted into the Hall of Fame less than two months ago, Barrington coach Perry Peterson (619-150 in 20 seasons at Barrington and one at St. Viator in 1992) would love to see a hall of fame performance from his 21st team at Barrington. The Fillies return 10 players from a team that won 30 games and an 11th straight regional title for Barrington. One of those ten is four-year starter Krzysko, who has already committed to Arkansas and has a school record of 24 career homers. She batted .362 last spring with 32 RBI last season. Fingerman, who has signed with Ripon College, batted .421 with 33 RBI. University of Chicago-bound O'Hara hit .308 as a junior with 7 doubles and 2 homers. Three-year varsity player Bolger batted .318 a year ago with 26 RBI, 4 homers and 6 doubles. Kraimer (18-7 with a 1.56 ERA) returns to the mound for her second season after striking out 148 with 9 shutouts a year ago. Peterson's senior class is the largest since he has been at Barrington. "Our nine seniors offer skills in a wide variety of directions," said Peterson, who has won an unprecedented nine MSL championships and taken an MSL-record six teams to the state finals. "There's pitching, speed, defense and offensive firepower. These seniors are anxious to begin the season in hopes of writing the final chapter of their careers the way they always dreamed it would finish -- with a trip to East Peoria in June.

Conant

Coach: CathyAnn Smith (12th season)

Last year's record: 33-4, 16-0

Graduated players: Allie Bauch (Illinois), Kim Jacobson (Creighton), Brianna Cavin (Wisconsin-Green Bay), Barb Linderman (Dominican), Sam Pincenti, Shannon O'Connor,

Returning players: Miranda Cavin (Sr. C) Sarah Thompson (Sr. CF), Rachel O'Malley (Jr. 3B), Telly Hunter (Jr. 1B-OF), Elisa Ambrose (So. 2B-OF).

Newcomers: Allison Naujokas (Sr 2B-OF), DeeDee Durr (So. SS-2B-OF), Hailey Rothstein (So.-1B), Alissa Wachal (So.-OF) Kim Zaucha (So.-P-OF), Dream Aaron (Fr. C-3B), Kali Schumacher (Fr.-P)

Outlook: After advancing to the Sweet Sixteen and winning its second Mid-Suburban League championship in a row, the Cougars are poised to enjoy another successful season as they return many of their key players from back-to-back division championship teams. "I am pleased with the enthusiasm of our core returners as they welcomed our young newcomers," said Cougars coach CathyAnn Smith, a former Schaumburg ace pitcher who guided the Cougars to their first MSL titles since 1974. One of the key returners is four-year varsity catcher Miranda Cavin, who has committed to Oklahoma State. Cavin led the defending MSL champs with a .508 batting average last spring and team-high 60 RBI and 9 home runs. She will be handling pitchers Zaucha (sophomore) and Schumacher (freshman). "They are a good balance for each other with different speeds and movement," Smith said. "Each will bring strong pitching to Miranda." Indiana recruit O'Malley returns to third base after hitting .389 with 9 homers and 39 RBI last spring as a sophomore. Another returning all-area selection is center fielder Thompson, who batted .351 with 20 RBI. Also back is Hunter, who provided a strong bat last year. She connected for a 2-run homer for her first varsity hit and belted a grand slam later in the season. One senior joining the team is Naujokas, who tore her ACL as a freshman year and had some complications from the surgery. "But she is now completely recovered and looks strong," Smith said. "She should see time at second base and in the outfield. Freshman Aaron and sophomore Rothstein are also key additions to the lineup with their strong bats. Durr and Ambrose will be middle infielders. Utility player Wachal also provides a nice addition to the outfield. "We're excited to begin the new season," Smith said. "And compete for a chance to defend the MSL title."

Fremd

Coach: Jim Weaver (12th season)

Last year's record: 30-8, 12-4

Graduated players: Rachel Doering, Megan Hubbard, Brittany Ciura, Caitlin Patenaude, Sara Untiedt, Kristie Salerno, Janelle Schneider

Returning players: Morgan Brauer (Sr. OF), Michelle Mazur (Sr. 1B-OF), Kristine Herdegen (Sr. C-IF), Amanda Matsumoto (Sr. OF), Leigh Farina (Jr. SS), Ashlynne Schwantz (Jr. P-OF), Tracy Welninski (Jr. 2B).

Newcomers: Haley Kazmer (Jr. OF), Joanna Josten (Jr.-P),Emily Bieda (So. OF-IF), Kayla Kaufman (Jr. OF), Delaney Schneider (Jr. 1B-OF), Julie Josten (So. IF-C-OF), Morgan Chencinski (Sr. P), Riley Zimmer (Sr. P), Alyssa Garcia (Fr. OF).

Outlook: One of the state's premier softball programs looks primed to have another quality season under 12-year coach Jim Weaver, who is two wins away from 300 for his career (298-95-2). The Vikes have won nine regionals the last 11 years with three sectional titles and three trips to the state finals (third in 2009 and second in 2010). Weaver is encouraged about the upcoming season. "We have a ton of experience returning up the middle, with five returning starters from our team that made it to the sectional semifinals," Weaver said. "We expect to be strong defensively, balanced offensively with great team speed and power, and we have an excellent pitcher in Schwantz (17-5 with 1.19 ERA and .324 batting average) returning to the mound, along with three other capable pitchers." Mazur (. 432. 43 RBI), an all-stater who has committed to Georgia Southern, returns for her third season on the varsity. The speedy Matsumoto, also a three-year starter and all-stater who has committed to Southern Charlestown, batted .402 last spring with 45 stolen bases. Illinois recruit Leigh Farina returns to shortstop for her second year on the varsity after batting .449 with 5 homers as a sophomore all-stater. Catcher Herdegen begins her third season on the varsity. Welninski hit .361 after a call-up from the junior varsity during second half of last season.

Hoffman Estates

Coach: Lindsey Hamma (eighth season)

Last year's record: 6-24-1, 1-15

Graduated players: Allison Amato, Alexis Filler, Amanda Harris, Alex Tuminaro

Returning players: Heather Bartoszewski (Sr. IF-OF), Heather Doonan (Sr. P-UT), Nicole LaBeck (Sr. 2B), Sam Acosta (Jr. SS), Kajal Dalal (Jr. OF), Kaileen Hendle (Jr. C), Charlotte Allan (So. P)

Newcomers: Natalie Biddle (Jr. IF), Andrea Wolinski (Jr. IF-OF), Jordyn Fera (Fr. 3B-OF), Alexis Morris (Fr. IF-OF), Tracy Osimowicz (Fr. P-IF)

Outlook: Former Chicago Bandit and Hoffman coach Lindsey Hamma will look to a core group of returning players -- LaBeck (captain), Acosta, Hendle and Allan -- to provide leadership for the Hawks. "Sadly, we have to begin our season without Charlotte (Allan) on the mound," said Hamma, who was also a guard for Buffalo Grove's Class AA 2000 state championship girls basketball team. "She is currently rehabbing a back injury but we look forward to her getting back on the field after spring break." Acosta and LaBeck form a solid tandem up the middle and along with Hendle will be the heart of the batting order. Hamma said Osimowicz and Doonan complement each other well with their pitching styles and will step up in Allan's absence. Freshman Fera is expected to fill the open spot at third base and adds an aggressive bat to the lineup. Dalal and Bartoszewski return to the outfield, providing experience to the other newcomers (Biddle, Wolinski and Morris).

Palatine

Coach: Jeff Manz (11th season)

Last year's record: 16-20, 6-10

Graduated players: Kaileigh Moertl, Kristen Rossi, Kayla Borgan

Returning players: Lauren Logan (Sr. C), Megan Hedstrom (Sr. P), Tori Walzak (Sr. SS), Jamie Haze (Jr. 3B), Jules Udoni (Jr. 1B-P), Courtney English (Jr. 2B-OF), Grace Rohrwasser (Jr. OF/2B)

Newcomers: Emily Plesnicar (Jr. IF), Dominique Boisvert (Jr. P), Maddie Levecke (Jr. OF)

Outlook: The Pirates return seven players as they hope to contend in the talented MSL West. Coach Jeff Manz (233-117-2 in 11 seasons), who has won five regionals crowns, welcomes back an all-area battery of pitcher Hedstrom and catcher Logan, who have already announced their college plans. Hedstrom, who has signed with Division I North Dakota, batted .407 with a team-high 41 RBI and 5 home runs last season. She also won 12 games on the mound. Logan, who will play at Missouri-St. Louis, set a single-season record for batting average (.509) while leading the team with 54 hits and and 41 runs. She was second with 28 RBI. All the other Pirates' returners -- Rohrwasser, Udoni, English, Haze and Walzak -- were starters, too. Besides Logan and Hedstrom, Walzak is also a senior. "Our three seniors are as strong as any we have had here at Palatine," Manz said. "They are excited to get going and expect to be a lot more confident and competitive this season. This is a very hard-working group which has dedicated itself in the off-season to prepare for a lot of success."

Schaumburg

Coach: Ellen Stoddard (third season)

Last year's record: 18-15, 8-8

Graduated Players: Alyssa Lancaster, Courtney Raschk, Renee Kakareka, Aubrey Lopshire, Kristen Safley, Courtney Placker, Marisa Licari, Sarah May

Returning Players: Senior Hannah Kerr (Sr, P-SS-OF), Carly Brossard (Sr, 3B-1B), Julia Bellinger (Sr. OF), Dana Giannelli (Sr. OF), Shannon Felde (So. P-SS)

Newcomers: Jamie Kudjer (Jr. OF), Lindsay Leiber (Jr. 1B), Gabi Martinez (Jr. OF), Roxanne Kakareka (So. P-2B), Kelly Poplar (So. 2B), Elaine Walker (So. C)

Outlook: The Saxons graduated two all-area players, including a pair of Division I recruits in Lancaster (Siena) and Kakareka (Philadelphia). But Stoddard is still hoping for a successful season. "We have five returning players who show great leadership as they welcome six new players to the varsity level," said Stoddard, a former Daily Herald all-area honorary captain who pitched for Fremd. "To be successful this season everyone has to work hard to do their part." Gianelli returns as an all-area outfielder who hit for average but also owns some power. She connected for 4 homers and had 17 RBI a year ago while coming up with several clutch hits. "We cannot be successful with just one person," Stoddard added. "With pitching, defense and discipline at the plate I look forward to a fun and successful season."

MID-SUBURBAN EAST

Buffalo Grove

Coach: Jamie Paul (third season)

Last year's record: 9-25, 5-10

Graduated players: Kami Hutchings, Jessie Lazzara, Sara Penelle, Becca Winter, Ali Levato

Returning varsity players: Erin Barton (Sr. IF), Amanda Salzman (Sr. C), Kristina Dakas (Sr. OF), Megan Fu (Sr. U), Julia Camardo (So. P), Caitlin Catino (So. OF),

Dea Barton (So. IF), Michelle Dublin (Jr. OF)

Newcomers: Tessa Poulsen (Sr., U), Katie Conley (Jr. IF), Breann Steady (Jr. P), Monica Browne (So. IF), Maddi Morini (So. U)

Outlook: Beginning her third season as the Bison coach, Paul is excited to return five sophomores who got a full year of varsity experience. One of those was all-area outfielder Catino, who enjoyed a stellar rookie season as a major weapon in the Bison offense. The slap-hitting Catino hit .396 with a .528 on-base percentage. Catino led BG with 9 stolen bases. She also had 5 doubles and collected 20 putouts in center field with a .909 fielding percentage. "We are excited to have a year of experience for that talented class of freshman that came in last year," said Paul, who graduated five players. "And we have strong leadership from our seniors (Barton, Salzman, Dakas, Fu and Poulsen) this year." Many Bison players were able to become more comfortable at their positions and learned how to work as a team last season. "We also have some versatility this season with positions," Paul said. "We have lots of returners to varsity and hope to take what we have gained from last year and build on it this year."

Elk Grove

Coach: Ken Grams (33rd season)

Last year's record: 31-10, 14-2

Graduated seniors: Carly Danek (Villanova), Dani Goranson (Michigan State), Megan Keegan (North Dakota), Tori Liewergen (Lake Forest), Devan Parkison (University of Chicago), Krista Soesbe (Aurora), Andrea Starr (North Central), Becca Walz (St. Olaf).

Returning players: Elisa Payne (Sr. OF), Becca Maher (Jr. SS), Marjorie Sloan (So. OF).

Newcomers: Megan Eul (Jr. P-IF), Rylee Romano (Sr. P-1B), Brianna DeSilvia (Sr. P-1B), Aleece Duffy (Jr.-IF), Brianna Leach (So.-OF), Melissa Picchi (So. C), Alex Masnica (Fr. IF-C), Allie Peters (Jr. OF), Brooke Barges (Jr. 1B), Taylor Brown (Jr. OF), Shannon Taucher (So. 1B-C), Tayler Merkel (So. C-1B), Gina Cirrincione (Jr. C), Sarah Pauscher (Fr. IF), Carly Benjamin (So. P), Abbey Sloan (Fr. OF), Kara Granata (Jr. OF), Jackie Peters (So. OF).

Outlook: It's a rebuilding season for Hall of Fame coach Ken Grams, who begins his 33rd season. Seven starters graduated from last year's team which took fourth place in the Class 4A state finals. Payne, a senior outfielder and Maher, a junior shortstop who played second base last year, are returning full-time starters. Also back is Sloan, a part-time starter last year who will see full-time duties this spring. "We graduated seven starters including a number of players who at one time or another were members of the Daily Herald All-Area team," Grams said. "We graduated a great deal of experience, close to 900 plate appearances and over 250 innings pitched." The Grens return 200 plate appearances and no innings pitched. "We will need to learn about what it takes to compete at the varsity level of softball as we go," Grams said. " We have what I feel are some very talented players. Their skills levels have been quite impressive as we have moved through the early weeks of practice. The varsity game experience will help tremendously in determining the progress we will make this season. I feel good about it."

Hersey

Coach: Molly Freeman (sixth season)

Last year's record: 18-18, 6-10

Graduated players: Haley Henriksen, Melissa Cecala, Val Burke, Angela Lazzeritti, Alex Tinaglia

Returning players: Angela Schmiederer (Jr. C), Gina Fasolo (Sr. CF), Sarah Platt (Sr. P), Alysia Zaucha (Jr. OF-IF), Becca Derka (Sr. OF), Sammie Carrillo (Sr. 3B-OF), Michelle Helminski (Jr. OF-C), Michele Bolker (Sr. P)

Newcomers: Jessica Schmiederer (So. OF-3B), Rachel Fang (Sr. P), Annie Cannata (Sr. 2B), Kelsey Panfil (Jr. 1B), Nicole Cecala (Jr. SS), Haley Cecala (Jr. IF-OF).

Outlook: As she begins her sixth season as Hersey's coach, former Fremd standout athlete Molly Freeman has one of her more experienced teams. "We have a great mix of returning girls and new additions," Freeman said. "Our seven seniors are just some phenomenal people and it's nice to have that kind of leadership. Our newcomers have to fill the roles of some talented seniors we graduated and so far they have really shown their talent stepping into those shoes." One returning senior is Platt, who had an all-area season as a junior helping the Huskies to their finest season under Freeman. Platt led the team with a .462 batting average and 6 home runs while also collecting 18 RBI and 10 runs. She also won 10 games on the mound. The Huskies' ace will be joined by fellow pitchers Bolker and Fang. "All three complement each other real well," Freeman said. "They will challenge each other and they communicate well to help each other." They will be throwing to veteran receiver Angela Schmiederer, who is starting her third season behind the plate. "She is the best catcher in my six years," Freeman said. The Huskies hope to challenge for the East crown. "We hope to make a run for the title every season," Freeman said. "I'm excited about our team. So far, I think we look very solid. The kids don't make a lot of mistakes and have a good knowledge of the game."

Prospect

Coach: Jim Adair (third season)

Last Year's Record: 11-26, 6-10

Graduated players: Hanna Lythberg, Amy Graham, Allie Likes, Stephanie Sofinski, Haley Skala, Sarah Scaccia, Mary Liberty

Returning players: Meghan Doyle (Jr. OF-2B), Michele Molini (Sr. 3B), Cassie Poulos (Sr. C), Casey Lenski (So. 1B), Michelle Korf (Jr. P), Jill Sadowski (Sr. P)

Newcomers: Carly Bergman (So. SS-OF), Emma Gilhooly (So. C), Emma Riordan (Jr. SS), Delilah Malczewski (Fr. P), Angela Roman (Fr. OF), Rachel Trebswether (Fr. 2B), Maggie Pancini (So. OF), Ally Schuldt (So. SS-OF)

Outlook: It's a new era of softball for Prospect as four-year ace pitcher and slugger Hanna Lythberg has graduated and is now pitching for Valdosta State in Georgia. "It's going to be tough to replace Hanna Lythberg's skills on the mound and at the plate, but we want to build on the late season success that we had last year when we went on our run," said Knight coach Jim Adair who has eight returning players. "Our new players will add a lot to our team speed and we're pretty confident in our pitchers." Korf lost 3-0 to state power Elk Grove (third in Class 3A) and she worked hard to improve over the winter. "She wants to be our starting pitcher," Adair said. "Since last year, our emphasis has been on improving our defense (107 errors last year) so that we can better support our pitchers." Lenski was a late-season call-up as a freshman and looks to add to the Knights' power-hitting abilities. Riordan and the Knights' three freshmen look to add both defense and offensive power. Adair said lefty Delilah Malczewski (LHP) shows a lot of maturity on the mound and at first base. "And her bat control at the plate is absolutely amazing," the coach added. Doyle, Lenski, Molini (committed to Wisconsin-Parskide for basketball), Korf, Poulos and Sadowski all return with varsity experience. "The MSL is such a tough conference," Adair said. "You have to be ready to play your best every game. There just aren't any easy teams around. I think the MSL East is wide open this year and the West will be tough again. It's going to take us a little while to figure out who we are and just how good we can be. We think we've got a lot of weapons, so we'll see what happens. We're all excited and can't wait to start having some fun."

Rolling Meadows

Coach: Tony Wolanski (10th season)

Last year's record: 18-18, 7-9

Graduated players: Natalie Cannizzo, Josie Suchecki, Kelly Sarussi, Megan O'Donnell

Returning players: Jenny Watson (Jr. OF-C), Chloe Prodanovic (Jr. SS), Hannah Whidden (Sr. 1B-P), Sam Anderson (Sr. SS), Grace Skorin (Jr. 3B-1B), Sarah Caprio (Sr. C), Emily Hattory Sr. OF), Lauren Hattory (So. P-OF), Sara Brunlieb (Sr. P), Lane Winkler (So. 3B-C)

Newcomers: Maddie Morgan (So. OF-2B), Kayla Wagner (Jr. OF)

Outlook: Meadows coach Tony Wolanski watched his Mustangs leave the starting gate with a 13-5 start last season before several key injuries slowed down the team's momentum. "I feel if we can stay healthy and be a more consistent team, we can beat anybody on our schedule," said Wolanski, an assistant coach in the Mustangs girls basketball program which finished as the Class 4A state runner-up. "We also know games are not won on paper. You have to go out and prove yourself every day." Brunlieb and Anderson have proved themselves to college coaches. Anderson will play for the University of Tampa while Brunlieb is headed to Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Anderson led the Mustangs in seven offensive categories last spring, including her .374 batting average, single-season school record 8 homers runs and 29 RBI. Brunlieb went 14-9 on the mound, striking out a school record 159 batters with a 1.90 ERA. "We feel Sara Brunlieb is one of the top pitchers in the conference and she is a great leader," Wolanski said. "Sam Anderson is a tremendous athlete who will be a four-year varsity starter at short. She is one of the best players in the area." Due to injuries, Skorin missed 34 games last season while Whidden was sidelined for 20 games. "With both of them back in the line up, it should improve our hitting," Wolanski said. Three-year starter Emily Hattory will play center field while Prodanovic will start at second base, the same position where she finished last season. Morgan was called up late in the season to play in the outfield and should be a starter this season. Lauren Hattory joined the team as a freshmen when Meadows' No. 1 and 2 pitchers were injured last spring. "Lauren did a nice job last season in a very difficult situation," Wolanski said. "She will compete for playing time in the outfield and serve as our No. 2 pitcher." In all, Wolanski gets 8 starters back and has 11 players with varsity experience. Meadows has finished second in the MSL East three times in the last four years "This season we would like to compete for the title," Wolanski said. "To accomplish this we are going to have to become a better hitting team. We also have to become a more confident team. Elk Grove is the champion in the East until someone beats them."

Wheeling

Coach: Mike Caringella (5th season)

Last year's record: 10-22, 4-12

Graduated players: Jen Laffey, Amanda Zammatta, Tori Caringella, Randi Shapiro

Returning varsity players: Angelika Bravo (Sr. OF), Kaitlyn DeBusk (Sr. IF), Rebecca Falkiner (Sr. OF), Nette Howard (So. P-1F), Sara Kern (Sr. CF), Nikki Mikosz (So. C), Megan Olsen (So. C-IF), Katie Quagliano (Jr. P), Jackie Resnick (Sr. IF), Taylor Vasey (Sr. P-OF), Emily Walker (Sr. IF)

Newcomers: Alexa Fishman (Jr. OF), Lauren Hart (So. OF), Anne Janulis (Jr. OF), Karlie Orlando (So. C-OF)

Outlook: As coach Mike Caringella begins his fifth season, the Wildcats have their eyes set on one goal. "We want to improve our conference record," Caringella said. "Obviously, we want to win more than four games (4-12 last season)." The Wildcats will try to accomplish that behind junior ace, Quagliano, who is beginning her third varsity season on the mound. The right-hander worked hard on conditioning during the off-season. "Katie has put in a lot of work to get ready this season," Caringella said. Quagliano will be throwing to her same target, sophomore Mikosz, who caught every inning for the Wildcats last season. "They communicate real well together," Caringella said. The Wildcats will be strong up the middle with Walker at short, Resnick at second and Kern in center field. Kern begins her fourth year on the varsity. The St. Louis recruit was one of the top hitters in the MSL last season, batting .509 with a .938 slugging percentage (13 doubles, 5 triples, 6 homers, 23 RBI). She is also one of the best fielding outfielders in the league. Joining Kern in the outfield will be Vasey, who will also serve as the Wildcats' leadoff batter as well as backup pitcher. Caringella is also looking for Hart and Janulis to step up in the outfield. Howard, who will handle third base, also has a year of pitching experience. DeBusk returns for her senior season to play first base. Olsen underwent knee survey as a freshman but is expected to back up Mikosz behind the plate and also play some infield.

NORTHEASTERN ATHLETIC

Christian Liberty

Coach: Dave Krizanovic: (third season)

Last year's record: 11-14, 6-6

Graduated players: Carly Baric, Megan Krizanovic

Returning players: Jess Moriarty (So. OF), Jenn West (So. C), Hannah Miller (1B), Regan March (So. U), Megan Sullivan (Jr. P-OF), Jenna Pavlik (Jr. 2B), Darby Calkins (Sr. SS-P), Beth Cunningham (Sr. 3B0

Newcomers: Sam Karr (Sr. OF), Corey Kramer (So. OF)

Outlook: The Chargers graduated two players after winning its second straight Class 1A regional crown. "Though we will be missing a lot of experience, I believe we have a much faster team than in previous years," said coach Dave Krizanovic. "Last year's teams could hit for power and extra base hits. This year, we will try to run on the opponents. Not to say we don't have power." Cunningham has plenty of power in her swing and is one of the fastest Chargers. "Darby Calkins is determined to excel at the plate," Krizanovic said. "And Jenna Pavlik is starting the season as a much stronger and faster athlete." The coach added that Sullivan and Miller have also come into the season stronger and faster. West and Moriarty return to the outfield. Krizanovic expects them to be more confident at the plate. "They give us great defense and nice speed in the outfield," Krizanovic said. March is playing softball for the first time. "She continues to get better every day," he added. "Her hard work will pay off." Karr and Kramer are also newcomers. "Although they don't have a ton of experience, they have a lot of speed and desire to excel," Krizanovic said. "It will be a pleasure to work with them." Lisa Houdack, who served as an assistant two years ago, returns for this season. Also, Krizanovic's daughter Megan, an all-area catcher the last two years, will serve as a part time assistant. "Megan will be invaluable with helping my pitchers and our new catching crew learn the position of catcher," Dave Krizanovic said. "It's a small team with only 10 players but if we can stay healthy and continue to work hard, we might surprise a few teams."

WEST SUBURBAN GOLD

Leyden

Coach: Kurt Schuett (eighth season)

Last year's record: 29-8, 10-2

Graduated players: Kelly Nessling, Jessica DuBrock (Harper), Dana Sullivan (Illinois), Jenna Cronin, Jen Sacksteder, Melissa Dziadosz, Morgan Maize (DePaul), Dana Laren, April Markowski (Eastern Illinois)

Returning players: Michelle Sansone (Sr. (1B-OF), Denise Moran (Sr. 2B), Jen Hall (Sr. C-3B), Kelly Bjorvik (Jr. OF), Mackenzie LeDuc (Jr. IF), Sammi Caputo (So. P)

Newcomers: Ali Luna (Jr. OF), Cat Elliot (So. IF-OF), Anna Kawka (Sr. OF), Kendall Duwall (Fr. IF), Xochi Vega (Jr. OF), Ann Elliot (So. C), Jessica Potts (Jr. IF-OF)

Outlook: The Eagles return four starters from a team that advanced to the Sweet Sixteen and won the West Suburban Gold with a 10-2 record. Three Division recruits graduated, including Maize (DePaul) who batted .469 and won 23 games on the mound with 210 strikeouts. Among the starting returners are Hall (. 366 BA, 24 runs, 38 RBI), who has committed to Augustana of South Dakota (finished 5th in nation for NCAA D-II last year). Sansone (a recruit for D-III Lakeland College in Wisconsin) batted .360 with 20 runs and 25 RBI last season. Moran hit .347 with 24 runs and 17 RBI and next year will move on to D-III Concordia University (Wisconsin). Bjorvik, a junior, also returns with starting experience after hitting .329 with 24 runs and a team-high 19 stolen bases. Caputo, who saw time as a backup pitcher last season, becomes the ace this spring.

CENTRAL SUBURBAN NORTH

Maine West

Coach: Amy Gonzales (second season)

Last year's record: 26-11, 9-1

Graduated players: Alyssa Bojarski, Janie Feldkamp, Katie Fitzgerald, Angela Kruz, Caroline Baird

Returning players: Abbey Herling (Jr. OF), Gina Larucci (Sr. C), Brie Montmarquette (Sr. IF), Tara Nykiel (Sr. P-OF), Renee Pond (Sr.-OF), Erin Ross (Jr. OF) Hanna Udischas (Sr. IF), Holly Wengerski (Sr. SS), Ariel Valles (Sr. P-IF)

Newcomers: Sadie Argus (Jr. OF), Erin Feldkamp (Jr. IF), Kayla Hansen (Sr. IF), Anna Wilieko (Jr. P-OF), Ariel Valles P/IF

Outlook: Not only is Maine West coming off its first sectional in school history, the Warriors are coming back with eight starters from that banner team, including all-area pitcher Valles. The right-hander was 21-9 last season with an ERA under 3.00 and batting average over .300. "We are looking forward to another exciting and successful year," said second-year coach Amy Gonzales, who returns eight starters (Larucci, Pond, Wengerski, Udischas, Nykiel and Herling) from the defending CSL North co-champions. Gonzales expects newcomers Ross, Feldkamp, Wilieko, Argus and Hansen to help fill positions. "We are looking forward to building on the success that the girls achieved last season and continuing that tradition of Maine West softball," said Gonzales, who played softball at Niles North and Illinois-Chicago. "I am very fortunate to have athletes who are also academically strong. A good number are in advanced placement classes. As a coach, great students is one part of the puzzle. Being an athlete comes next. It's great to have kids like this."

EAST SUBURBAN CATHOLIC

St. Viator

Coach: Dan Twarog (10th season)

Last year's record: 13-24, 2-16

Graduated players: Alex Flasch, Colleen Dunne, Erika Kreiner

Returning players: Ally Rinka (Sr. 2B), Gina Mastrodomenico (Jr. C), Krystal Harris (So. LF), Lauren Prazuch (Sr. 3B), Andreya DeLarco (Sr. CF), Martha Hayes (Jr. C), Michelle Presslak (Sr. 1B), Sam Hogan (Jr. OF), Tess Kaiser (Jr. SS)

Newcomers: Amanda Meyer (Sr. OF), Justice Johnson (Sr. OF), Kristen Hackel (Jr. DH-1B), Mary Gerbatsch (Jr. C), Olivia Michalik (Fr. OF), Taylor Noll (Jr. IF)

Outlook: Coach Dan Twarog reached double digits (10 seasons) in his tenure as the Lions coach and he would love to see his Lion post another double-digit win season. The St. Viator grad returns nine varsity players. The biggest hole to fill is at shortstop where all-area shortstop Alex Flasch (Maryville in St. Louis) played for the last three seasons. Hogan returns to the mound as the Lions No. 1 pitcher. "It's Sam's third year on varsity and she has worked hard in the off season to improve her pitching and hitting," Twarog said. Tri-captains Prazuch (3B), Presslak (1B) and DeLarco (CF) should make a solid impact in the lineup with their hitting and fielding. DeLarco replaces Dunne (St. Norbert), who Twarog called one of the Lions' all-time best leaders. Kaiser (SS) and Rinka (2B) will handle the middle infield while the Lions gained infield depth with newcomer Noll, who will work at all the infield positions. "Ally, Tess and Taylor all play infield extremely well," Twarog said. "In regards to playing time, it's a matter of who is hot with the bat." Lefty-hitting Harris will be in left field and lead off in the batting order as well as serve as the No. 2 pitcher. "Krystal has gained speed and control on her pitches during her off-season work," Twarog said. "She has come ready to play." Three juniors (Mastrodomenico, Hayes and Gerbatsch) give the Lions depth at the catching position. Mastrodomenico, one of the team's top hitters last season, is expected to take most of the innings behind the plate and may play some outfield. Hackel will back up Presslak at first base and likely take the role of designated player after leading the junior varsity in hitting last year. Meyer and Johnson also played on the junior varsity a year ago. They will play outfield, pinch hit and pinch run along with freshman Mihalik. Twarog likes the team chemistry. "We are looking forward to the season," he said. "We think we can go far into the IHSA state playoffs this year."

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