Softball: Lake County All-Area Team
Haley Barnes StevensonOn a team full of promising young players, Barnes was, bar none, the Patriots' best this season. She excelled at the plate, on the base paths, at shortstop and in the circle. The sophomore, a second-year varsity starter, batted .422 with her 44 hits including 12 doubles, 6 triples and 7 home runs. She also scored 43 runs. "She can do it all," Patriots coach Heather Ruchim said. "Not many players can pitch, field, throw, hit, run at the level Haley does. There are several pitchers with strong bats, but not many have sure hands on defense like Barnes. She's our team's best pitcher, our best shortstop and our best hitter. One could argue she is our team's best athlete, and she is only 15 years old."
Sarah Bennett LibertyvilleAn all-conference honorable mention selection as a sophomore last season, the slick-fielding second baseman elevated her game this spring in helping the Wildcats win the North Suburban Conference championship and advance to the Class 4A Palatine sectional final. Her offensive numbers included a .354 batting average, .411 on-base percentage, 2 homers, 28 RBI and 17 stolen bases. She had the game-winning single in the Wildcats' sectional-semifinal win over Warren. "Sarah has really established herself as a top defensive player this season," Wildcats coach Elissa Wisniewski said, "as well as be a solid hitter in the middle of our lineup all year."
Delaney Bowen Vernon HillsGoing 4-for-4 is nothing new for the Purdue-bound shortstop. She makes her fourth appearance on the all-area team after slashing .491/.538/1.000. Her 60 hits included 14 doubles, 7 triples and 9 homers. She also had 40 RBI and 26 stolen bases. She is one of the most dominant players in Cougars history. "Delaney is a triple-threat and a game-changer, whether on offense or defense," Cougars coach Jan Pauly said. "She hit for average and power this year, she ignites our offense and is a constant threat on the bases. As our shortstop, she has the ability to make the plays to shut down the opposition's offense."
Grace Bradley Grayslake CentralThe pitcher fielded her position well and gave opposing fielders fits trying to get her out. The repeat all-area selection batted .404 (42 hits) with 7 homers and 40 RBI. "Grace was a tremendous leader for the program," Rams coach Jason Schaal said of his cleanup hitter, ace the last two years and three-year varsity player. She committed only 1 error all season, giving her 3 for her career. She went 12-7 in 113 innings and helped lead the Rams to another regional championship. "Grace's name will be found all over our record book in offensive categories, pitching and defense," Schaal said. "She forced teams to pitch to Elisa (Koshy) and made them pay if they did not." Bradley will continue her softball career at Carroll University.
Caitlyn Britton WarrenThe gobs of greasy eye black she sometimes wore on game days might have been her only blemish in four varsity seasons. A three-time all-area selection, the slugging pitcher is the all-area captain after putting together a senior season that included 19 homers and 64 RBI in helping the Blue Devils go 23-5 and win a regional championship. She took a .587 batting average into the sectional. Her sixth-inning grand slam gave the Blue Devils a 4-1 win over Grayslake North in their own regional final. She was unanimously voted the North Suburban Conference player of the year. Signed with Central Michigan University, Britton finishes her career with 52 homers and 219 RBI. "She's just a great kid," Blue Devils coach Jenna Charbonneau said. "She lives and breathes this game, and obviously it shows. She puts so much time and effort into it."
Grace Brown Grayslake NorthSoft-spoken kid with a booming bat. "It's difficult to concisely sum up the impact Grace Brown has had on the Grayslake North softball program," Knights coach Lea Corcoran said of her senior third baseman. Brown ends her four-year varsity career with a .492 batting average (182 hits), .590 on-base percentage, .970 slugging percentage, 166 RBI, 45 home runs, 40 doubles, 158 runs scored and 79 walks (20 intentional). She averaged an extra-base hit every 4.3 at-bats and a home run every 8.22 at-bats. "She is the best softball player to ever come through North," Corcoran said. This year, Brown hit .451 with 10 homers, 9 doubles, 43 RBI, 50 runs scored, 31 walks (10 intentional) and a .577 OBP. "She managed to put up elite numbers despite most teams pitching around her this year after her record-breaking junior campaign," Corcoran said. "She owns just about every offensive record you can think of. She has the most beautiful swing I've ever seen. She's also one of the most humble and hardworking players I've ever had the pleasure of coaching." Brown is a four-time all-area player and captain of last year's squad. "Our program is fundamentally different because of her presence in it these past four years," Corcoran said. "She has created a standard of excellence and a legacy that will live on long after she's graduated." Brown will play softball next year at the Milwaukee School of Engineering.
Kira Buckner MundeleinA forearm injury limited the junior at the plate this season, but she still made a major impact in the circle, despite missing six games. In 132⅔ innings, Buckner struck out a whopping 223 batters. The right-hander went 10-11 with a 2.53 ERA. She is a repeat all-area selection. "Kira is a force to be reckoned with on the mound," Mustangs coach Heather Ryan said. "Her velocity and ability to keep batters guessing at the plate with her movement pitches has made her one of the more dominant pitchers in the area. ... Her competitiveness and drive to outwork the competition is a big reason for her success."
Elizabeth Chialdikas Lake ZurichOne of the best hitters in all of Lake County, the junior third baseman has been hitting line drives on varsity since her freshman season. A repeat all-area selection, she slashed .507/.519/.957 this season. Her 43 hits included 11 doubles, 3 triples and 8 home runs. The team captain knocked in 43 runs and scored 37. "Elizabeth is a quiet leader who leads by example," Bears coach Kelly Hardbarger said. "She shows up ready to work hard and is always looking for ways to improve her game. Although humble, she has a presence when she steps on the field -- especially into the batter's box. Her love, desire and passion for this sport is undeniable. We are excited to see what the future has in store for this LZ Bear."
Ally Dietz LakesAnother year, another Dietz playing stellar first base for the Eagles. With Molly Dietz having graduated, Ally (no relation) moved from third base to first base. All the sophomore did was thrive in her second varsity season. She hit .493 with a .566 on-base percentage. She had 12 doubles, 4 triples, 4 home runs and 21 RBI. She also walked 12 times and struck out only seven times in 84 plate appearances. "Ally switched corners this year without any questions," Eagles coach Bill Hamill said. "Ally's timely hitting and power at the plate always kept you in a game. Ally also worked hard to save players errors by working on her skills with balls in the dirt."
Maggie Evers LibertyvilleThe senior missed her senior season of basketball due to an ACL injury, resulting in her cheering from the bench as the Wildcats won conference and regional championships. She made the most of her senior softball season (her fourth on varsity), as the Wildcats won conference and regional titles. The third baseman took a .412 batting average into the sectional to go along with 7 homers, 39 RBI and 12 stolen bases. She went 2-for-3 with a double in the Wildcats' sectional-semifinal win over Warren. "Maggie has been a great leader all four years on varsity," Wildcats coach Elissa Wisniewski said. "She has really come into her own the last two seasons and has been a great example of energy and determination to her teammates."
Piper Foote AntiochFoote's feats include three all-area berths in four varsity seasons and a scholarship to Western Illinois University. Simply put, Foote flourished. This season the senior shortstop hit .430 with 12 doubles, 2 triples, 5 homers, 38 RBI, 22 stolen bases and a .500 on-base percentage. "Fantastic (career)," said Sequoits coach Anthony Rocco, who calls Foote a natural leader. "She's adjusted her game so many different times, between being a leadoff hitter, a (No.) 2 hitter. We joke that one year she leaned into 18 pitches or something like that. She's just a phenomenal all-around player."
Aliya Haddon LibertyvilleAfter going 2-for-2 against Caitlyn Britton in the sectional semifinals, Haddon noted she's had success against Warren's ace in the past. Truth is, the senior has hit lots of opposing pitchers the last two seasons on varsity. She took a .431 batting average into the sectional and then went 3-for-3 against Warren. Her repeat all-area campaign also included 2 homers, 11 doubles and 41 RBI. She struck out only seven times. "Aliya has done a great job stepping into the shortstop role her junior and senior years, while also anchoring the middle of our lineup," Wildcats coach Elissa Wisniewski said. "She is a great two-strike hitter and is always a tough out."
Nicole Hughes Grayslake NorthThe freshman began the season on JV, but she hit .643 over the Knights' Florida trip and was on the varsity to stay. She put together a terrific season, slashing .520/.562/.880 with 15 doubles, 7 homers, team-leading 49 RBI and 44 runs scored. "She could have pouted about being placed on JV, but she chose to keep working hard and made the most of her opportunities when she got them," Knights coach Lea Corcoran said. "She made it so I couldn't create a lineup that didn't have her in it. Hughes started the season 19-for-27, struck out only six times in 100 at-bats and hit the walk-off homer that clinched outright Northern Lake County Conference championship. A shortstop/third baseman before this season, she played right field, made only 1 error and racked up 6 assists. "She made some spectacular plays out there," Corcoran said, "and saved runs with her 61-plus-mph arm."
Erika Jimenez WarrenA varsity player as a sophomore, she didn't go out for softball her junior season in order to focus on her heavy academic workload. In her first game back this season, the slugging third baseman homered at Barrington. "She rounds third and I said, 'Welcome back!', slapped her hand," Blue Devils coach Jenna Charbonneau said. "Coach (assistant Ryan Skidmore) told me in the dugout afterward that as she was rounding first and he said, 'Welcome back!' " Jimenez kept her coaches smiling all season long. She hit .418 and 11 home runs and 30 RBI. "She was phenomenal," Charbonneau said. "As a (No.) 4 hitter, you'd get some people that would walk Caitlyn (Britton) and I would be like, 'Take your chances with E. Good luck.' " Jimenez plans to study engineering at the University of South Florida.
Camryn Jones LakesThe Eagles didn't have a typical Eagles season in regards to wins, but the four-year varsity player didn't disappoint. A returning stater at catcher, Jones also played some middle infield and, no matter where she played, hit. She posted a .479 batting average and .570 on-base percentage, while totaling 9 doubles, 3 triples, 4 home runs, 15 RBI and 14 walks. She struck out only seven times. "Camryn was the team captain and a great leader," Eagles coach Bill Hamill said. "She took on the role of running the off-season workouts and open gyms. Cam always did what was best for the team and kept the team focused in times of struggle. Cam was also a clutch player who played many positions for the betterment of the team." Jones will play softball next year for Appalachian State University.
Elisa Koshy Grayslake CentralNothing unusual about the senior's season, although the lefty did play catcher. Koshy crushed softballs again. "To best help the team, she moved from first base to catcher this year and had an excellent season," Rams coach Jason Schaal said of his repeat all-area selection. Koshy set single-season school records for hits (59), batting average (. 546), RBI (56) and doubles (12), while increasing her career leading categories for hits (142), batting average (. 489), slugging (. 926), RBI (146) and home runs (38). She hit 11 homers this season, slugged 1.000 and was intentionally walked seven times while striking out only eight times. Behind the plate, she threw out 19 runners who attempted to steal on her and picked off two girls. Koshy will continue her softball career at Indiana Wesleyan University.
Amanda Page LibertyvillePage's highlights helped fill prep sports pages the last two springs. The right-hander served as the Wildcats' ace as a junior and senior, helping them win 51 games. Not the tallest pitcher or hardest-throwing, Page just got hitters outs as well as any pitcher in the county. "She spins and she locates," Wildcats coach Elissa Wisniewski said. "That's what we work on a lot. It's not all about speed." Page went 24-6 in the circle and heading into the sectional final had struck out 181 batters while walking just 21. She also was hitting .340 with 18 walks and just 5 strikeouts. "Amanda has done a great job carrying our pitching load the last two seasons," Wisniewski said. "She has continued to get learn and adjust and been very solid in the circle."
Jess Pozezinski Grayslake NorthThe speedy sophomore picked up where she left off after an all-area campaign last year. Her batting average dipped from .463 to .419, but her extra-base hits went from 11 to 23. This year she had 15 doubles, 1 triple and 7 home runs. She also had 46 RBI, 35 runs scored and 10 stolen bases. "She really found her groove this year and came up clutch all season long," Knights coach Lea Corcoran said. "She hit (fourth) behind Grace Brown all year, which meant teams worked around Grace to get to her. She made them pay for that consistently. That's a lot of pressure for a young player to be under, and she handled it beautifully." The center fielder also boasts an overhand throw of 62-plus mph. "She covers gap to gap in the outfield and has saved us countless hits this year with her ability to flag down balls," Corcoran said. "She's a difference-making outfielder."
Abby Pyburn AntiochPyburn burned any defense that anticipated her slap-hitting for only a single. The lefty-hitting senior second baseman batted .454 with 8 doubles, 3 triples, 5 homers and 35 RBI. She hit a grand slam against Grant and delivered a 3-run double against Johnsburg in the regional. "She was the big-impact bat," Sequoits coach Anthony Rocco said of his repeat all-area selection and four-year varsity player. "It's just hard to defend her. She's a slap hitter, but she's really a power slapper that can really drive the ball. She did a fantastic job for us all year, excellent at second base and just a great kid overall."
Faith Standerski Grayslake NorthHer hit total makes for a good varsity career. Her 75 hits this season alone? Crazy good. "She's always been a good hitter, but really elevated her game this year," Knights coach Lea Corcoran said. The junior shortstop slashed .551/.595/.941 with 19 doubles, 5 triples, 8 homers, 48 RBI, 25 stolen bases and 66 runs. Her hits, stolen bases and runs scored are all single-season school records. A repeat all-area selection, she has been the career triples record holder (12) since her sophomore year and finished this year as the career doubles record holder (41). She was caught stealing one time this year and struck out eight times in 136 at-bats. "She can lay down a bunt and reach safely and blast a ball over the fence her next at bat," Corcoran said. "She's hard to defend against and is a great base runner." Dominant defensively too, Standerski is committed to the University of Northern Iowa.
Jordan Swiatkowski Carmel CatholicShe banged one of the most memorable homers in team history as a freshman, and this season the senior went out with a bang. The slugging catcher slashed .416/.532/1.000 with 11 doubles and career-best totals of 16 homers and 50 RBI. "Jordan led us in all offensive categories," Corsairs coach Shane Schueneman said of the four-year varsity starter, three-time All-East Suburban Catholic Conference selection and two-time all-area choice. Her 39 career homers -- including her supersectional shot three years ago that helped send the Corsairs downstate -- rank second in team history. "She matured (as a hitter)," Schueneman said. "She gets her pitch, and she drives it. She doesn't chase bad pitches." Swiatkowski will continue her softball career at Wartburg College.
Carissa Topolinski WarrenTopolinski topped the team in smiles. And not just because the junior catcher pounded the softball. "Carissa is just great to have," Blue Devils coach Jenna Charbonneau said. "She never stops smiling. She's a great kid and she's been great for us behind the plate. She and (pitcher) Caitlyn (Britton) have a great relationship." Topolinski started at third base on varsity last season and then had a breakout campaign this spring. She batted .466 (41 hits) with 14 homers and 42 RBI.
Calista Warmowski GrantContact player, contact hitter. The scrappy shortstop was never afraid to dive for a ball or get dirty running the bases in her four varsity seasons. This year, at the plate, she struck out once, on what Bulldogs coach Chris Van Alstine called a pitch over the head. "I'm still mad about the ump calling that a strike," Van Alstine joked. When Warmowski hit the ball, she usually found holes. She slashed .487/.504/.726 with 14 doubles, 6 triples, 3 homers, 37 RBI and 34 runs scored. "Best season she has had in all four years at Grant," Van Alstine said of the four-time all-area selection. "Team leader on and off the field. It was her best defensive year at short. She made plays up the middle and toward third that she had no business making." Warmowski will continue her softball career at Marian University.
Julia Zaucha Lake ZurichA four-year varsity starter at shortstop, she had her best season, improving on a junior campaign in which she posted a .427 batting average with 13 doubles. This season, Zaucha slashed .478/.566/.722. Her 43 hits included 11 doubles, 1 triple and 3 homers. She also knocked in 27 runs, scored 44 and stole 15 bases. "Her passion and dedication to this program is remarkable as every day she showed up, worked hard and pushed her teammates," Bears coach Kelly Hardbarger said of the team captain. "She is a natural-born leader. People are drawn to her, look up to her, trust her and respect her. Her voice, her skillset, her drive, her heart, her presence are just some of the qualities that did not go unnoticed by coaches, players or her opponents. Beyond stats, Julia has left a legacy for all to remember."
Honorable MentionMegan Croke (Lake Zurich Sr. 2B), Gabby Debevec (Antioch Fr. RF), Alexis De La Roca (Wauconda Fr. OF), Emily Etherington (Round Lake Sr. SS), Emily Freedman (Stevenson So. 2B/OF), Haley Gajewski (Lake Zurich Sr. C), Sarah Gallivan (Grant Sr. C), Calli Janik (Wauconda Fr. C), Kassie Jimenez (Warren So. SS/P), Stephanie Keefe (Lake Zurich Sr. P), Ashlyn Kitter (Warren Sr. CF), Kendall Klatt (Mundelein Jr. C/SS), Taylor Koehler (Wauconda Fr. 1B), Megan Lawrence (Antioch Sr. LF), Megan Mitchell (Grant Sr. 1B), Avery Nims (Grayslake Central Jr. 2B/3B), Madeline Peterson (Grayslake Central So. 1B), Sydney Schuda (Carmel Catholic Sr. P), Ashlyn Sundell (Antioch So. CF), Rilee Schreiner (Antioch So. 1B/P), Kellie Shanahan (Mundelein Fr. C), Kennedy Stoffel (Grayslake Central Jr. SS), Marla Walinski (Carmel Catholic Sr. SS/P), Sydney Verastegui (Round Lake Sr. 2B)