Former Crystal Lake South softball standout Emily Mahoney's college career didn't end quite like she would have imagined.
Mahoney took a tough loss in the circle in River Forest-based Dominican University's 7-4 loss in 9 innings to Concordia University Wisconsin in the Northern Athletics Conference tournament.
Concordia scored 3 unearned runs in the top of the ninth inning to pull away and overshadow some clutch pitching from Mahoney in the latter stages of the contest.
Mahoney pitched out of a bases-loaded jam with one out in the top of the seventh inning by inducing a pair of infield outs. She also pitched around a two-out double in the top of the eighth inning.
"At the time of the game I was really sad," Mahoney says. "It's not how you want to finish the year. But this was one of my favorite years playing softball. We had a great group of girls who had some great accomplishments as a team. It was a fun time going to practice every day. You can't ask for much more being a senior. We all got along really well. We had four seniors on the team this year and we were all kind of different but we all played a great role in bringing everybody together. We all came together and it worked out really well."
Mahoney finished her senior year 21-8 with a 1.95 ERA. She registered 18 complete games. In 179 2/3 innings she allowed 129 hits and struck out 251 batters. She allowed only 25 extra-base hits in 655 opponent at-bats. Opponents hit only .197 against her this year.
She earned NAC pitcher of the year honors and a spot on the all-conference first team after leading the loop in strikeouts (231), wins (19) and shutouts (8) during the regular season. Friday, she was named a first teamer on the NFCA all Great Lakes Region team.
"Words can't even begin to describe how excited I am about how well the year went," she said. "I felt like I left it all on the field this year."
Mahoney explained she made various changes to her pitching repertoire this year.
"I changed my changeup this year and learned a curveball right before our first conference game," she says. "I worked on a new riseball over the summer. A couple of things helped me out. I realized I needed to step up my senior year and be there for the team."
Mahoney, who will be entering her fourth summer playing for the Northern Illinois Lightning women's team, was no slouch with the bat either. She hit a team-best .348 with 39 hits in 112 at-bats. She scored 23 runs and had 6 doubles, 3 homers, 21 RBI and a .439 on-base percentage.
Mahoney noted there were several games throughout the year that stuck out in her mind. She pitched the first perfect game in NAC tournament history, leading Dominican to an 8-0 win over Wisconsin Lutheran in the first game of the tournament. She struck out 5 and needed only 54 pitches to complete the game.
Mahoney also was fond of a victory over Benedictine earlier in the season. She pitched a 3-hit shutout in Game 1 of a doubleheader and took a perfect game into the fifth inning.
"We beat Benedictine in the first game of a doubleheader and that's the first time in school history we've beaten them," she says. "It was a special game."
Mahoney also pitched both ends of a doubleheader against Lakeland. During the second game she had a 33-inning scoreless streak snapped.
"I had a lot of strikeouts in that doubleheader (15)," she says. "But the Benedictine game was one of the top ones this year."
Mahoney said she will definitely miss the college softball experience.
"There's nothing like competing in a college sports atmosphere," she said. "I loved working with these girls for four years. I am definitely going to miss it."
Mahoney graduated with a math education degree and would ultimately like to teach high school math and coach softball. She did her student teaching at Johnsburg High School, where she helped coach basketball, and she will be an assistant coach for the Lightning 16U team this summer when she's not playing.
Mahoney was not able to go to the actual graduation ceremony because it started the same time as one of the conference tournament games.
"Graduation started at 11 a.m. and our game started at 11 a.m.," she said. "It was a no-brainer for me to play. They can mail you your diploma. They can't mail you softball wins."
Another local contributor for Dominican was Dundee-Crown alum Melissa Summaria, who hit .305 in 40 starts. She had 32 hits in 105 at-bats and scored 22 runs. She also had 8 doubles and 5 RBI and led the team in sacrifices with 11 and stolen bases with 8. She made only 2 errors in the field.
Dominican finished the year 29-13 and 19-5 in conference play.
Kay named MVC player of the year: Bartlett alum Elizabeth Kay, now a senior catcher at Illinois State University, recently was named Missouri Valley Conference player of the year. The announcement came midweek at the conference annual awards banquet in Omaha, Neb.
Kay is the eighth ISU softball player to win the award. Through midweek she was hitting .418 with 10 home runs and 44 RBI. She ranks in the Top 40 nationally in on-base percentage (19th, .534), walks (34th) and batting average (38th). She also leads the conference in batting average, on-base percentage and RBI. She's a 4-time MVC player of the week this season and has 17 multihit and 13 multi-RBI performances in 2013. Kay is the program's all-time leader in career RBI (166) and through midweek was one RBI shy of the conference all-time record.
Kay is now a 3-time all-MVC first-team selection.
Locals make all-conference team: Two locals on the Lewis University baseball team earned all-Great Lake Valley Conference accolades. Junior second baseman Drew Buddle (South Elgin) and junior outfielder Ben Albano (Jacobs) both were named to the all-GLVC first team.
Albano, a 2012 all-conference pick, was leading the team in RBI (36), while hitting .324 with a .503 slugging percentage through midweek. Buddle had the second-most RBI on the team (34) while batting out of the ninth spot in the lineup. He was hitting .293 through midweek.
Oranger at UTEP: Burlington Central graduate Kayla Oranger wrapped up her softball career recently at the University of Texas-El Paso. Oranger finished her senior year hitting .323 in 48 starts. She had a team-best 164 at-bats and had 53 hits and scored 23 runs. Oranger also led the team in stolen bases with 9. UTEP ended the 2013 season with a 13-35 mark.
Harris at Villanova: Streamwood product Josh Harris is a sophomore left-handed starting pitcher on the Villanova University baseball team. Through lase week, Harris is 4-6 with a 3.34 ERA in 11 starts. He has 1 complete game. In 72 innings he's allowed 79 hits and has 49 strikeouts against 17 walks. Villanova was 11-36 overall and 2-16 in Big East Conference play through late last week.
Off at College wants your help: Send information and/or statistics on Fox Valley area athletes playing collegiately to Mike Miazga at firstname.lastname@example.org.