Softball: Lake County all-area team
Breanna Adams Mundelein
More than just alphabetically, she topped the Mustangs' list, leading the team in several categories in putting together the best season of her four-year varsity career. The unflappable senior pitcher/shortstop batted .537 with 15 doubles (both team bests), while also leading the way in the circle, where she struck out 102 batters in 114⅔ innings with a 3.60 ERA. Her 51 hits also included 4 homers and 2 triples, and she had 29 RBI. She hit a grand slam against Zion-Benton and came two outs away from pitching a perfect game against Resurrection. "Bre was one of the big keys to our success this season," Mustangs coach Heather Ryan said. "Not only could she shut down a team's offense with her pitching and fielding ability, she kept us in games with her bat. We will miss the leadership and competitive spirit she brought every game." Adams will continue her softball career at North Central College.
Rachel Becker Lakes
A .495 hitter as a sophomore, she hiked her batting average to .540 last season. Another spike in her average this season? Yes. The senior shortstop closed out her four-year varsity career by hitting a school-record .617, while also posting .674 on-base and .928 slugging percentages. The hard-hitting lefty leadoff hitter drew 14 walks, struck out only twice, scored 38 runs and drove in 21 runs. She also stole 8 bases, despite an ankle injury. Her 50 hits included 3 homers, 5 doubles and 3 triples. And, amazingly, Eagles coach Bill Hamill thinks his three-time all-area player could have been even better in high school. "Six-seventeen is a pretty good batting average," Hamill said with a smile. "But if anybody would have worked with her at a young age to make her a power slapper from the left side, the kid would have been unstoppable." Becker was also named All-Northern Lake County Conference First Team for the second year in a row. She signed a letter of intent to continue her softball career at Purdue University.
Erin Bengston Grant
After she smoked a Lake County-record 22 home runs as a junior, teams pitched her differently this season and had no problems walking her. Bengston remained patient and disciplined at the plate. "This year, she allowed people around her to be great," Bulldogs coach Chris VanAlstine said. "She was such a good influence on other people. So many people wanted to fill in behind her. They played better because of her." The senior third baseman still hit 11 homers and produced another amazing line of .565/.629/1.091. Her 53 hits also included 21 doubles. She had 50 RBI, 51 runs scored and 23 walks (13 intentional), and she struck out only twice. The captain of the 2017 all-area team, she is a four-time all-conference and three-time all-area selection. She was named All-Northern Lake County Conference First Team for the second year in a row. "She's just such a complete athlete, and she's such a complete person," VanAlstine said. "When you talk about coachability, it's a picture of her." Bengston signed a letter of intent to play softball for the College of the Holy Cross.
Delaney Bowen Vernon Hills
Name the tool, and the junior probably has it. She keeps honing her softball skills, too. The shortstop, who's committed to Purdue University, makes her third appearance on the all-area team after pounding out 62 hits, including 20 doubles, 6 triples and 6 homers, and driving in 43 runs through the sectional final. She was slashing .541/.608/.991, before going 2-for-3 in helping the Cougars beat Prairie Ridge for the Class 3A Grayslake Central sectional championship. She also stole 21 bases and boasted a .939 fielding percentage. "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 Central
Coach Jason Schaal noted that 45 of the runs scored against his junior first-year ace were unearned. Which helps explain why the Rams lost 11 games by 2 or fewer runs. "She is a groundball pitcher, and the team could not turn those into outs this year," Schaal said. Bradley just kept pitching, kept playing the game, kept holding her head high. The second-year varsity player patrolled the outfield when not pitching. "Grace never said anything to her teammates other than, 'I will do better next time,' " Schaal said. "She competes like no other and is very deserving of as much postseason success as there is. Our team would not have been anywhere close to our record (19-14) without her." Bradley often aided her own cause when she pitched, as she belted 9 homers, including a grand slam, drove in 34 and scored 37. Her 46 hits were one shy of the school record. She finished the season with a batting average of .451 and slugged at a .784 clip. Her 3-run, walk-off homer rallied the Rams past Lakes in an eight-inning game.
Caitlyn Britton Warren
Britton kept hittin'. The junior didn't put up the offensive numbers she did last season, when she batted .505 with 16 homers and a Lake County-record 78 RBI, but she still showed she's a powerful and feared hitter. She took a .459 batting average into the sectional final and then went 3-for-3, as the top-seeded Blue Devils fell to Palatine. Britton had 15 home runs and 41 RBI in her third varsity season. She also served as Warren's ace, going 18-2 in the circle for the 28-game winners. The two-time all-area player has been verbally committed to Central Michigan University since prior to her sophomore season.
Grace Brown Grayslake North
She deserves an asterisk next to her name. That's not only to note the number of school records she set this year, but also to point out that she played fewer games than many players. Due to too much inclement weather and even a pair of forfeit wins for the Knights, the junior third baseman played in only 26 games. And, yet, she essentially rewrote the offensive record book at Grayslake North. The captain of the all-area team set single-season records in home runs (18), batting average (.611), on-base percentage (.731), slugging percentage (1.514), OPS (2.245), extra-base hits (29), RBI (55), runs scored (42) and walks (27). She also set a school record by hitting at least one homer in eight consecutive games. She has 35 career home runs and a .510 batting average. She also made only 7 errors at the hot corner on the season. "If the weather hadn't been so rough this year and we had played our usual amount of games (30-plus), I truly believe she would have been chasing the state home run record of 24," Knights coach Lea Corcoran said of her three-time all-area player and repeat All-Northern Lake County Conference First Team selection. "She's an all-around phenomenal player. The best part is she's got another year to play."
Kira Buckner Mundelein
She found her power stroke late in the season, but the sophomore third baseman hit the ball hard all spring. In her second varsity season, Buckner slashed .474/.545/.811. Her 45 hits included 9 doubles, 7 homers and 1 triple. Her 34 RBI led the team. Down the stretch, she belted 3 home runs in a game against Deerfield and hit a pair of long balls in the Mustangs' regional-semifinal loss to Lake Zurich. The hard-throwing righty also threw 25⅓ innings, striking out 19 batters and posting a 2.21 ERA. "Kira really came on at the end of the year with her pitching and hitting," Mustangs coach Heather Ryan said. "Kira's work ethic and determination to be one of the better players in the area is beginning to shine through in her play. We will look for Kira to lead the way for us on the mound next year."
Elizabeth Chialdikas Lake Zurich
Even in chilly weather, "Chilly" was hot. No matter the weather, pitcher or game situation, Chialdikas delivered with the bat. The hard-hitting sophomore third baseman/catcher batted better than .600 for the most of the season in putting together a 20-game hitting streak. She "settled" for a .575 batting average, while also slugging at a .954 clip. Her 50 hits (30 games) included 10 doubles, 4 triples and 5 homers. She also had 33 RBI, 33 runs scored and a .638 on-base percentage. As a freshman on varsity last year, she batted .487 with 5 home runs but had veteran sluggers to protect her in the lineup. She didn't have that this spring and yet still raked, while also showing patience at the plate. "She hits the ball hard," Bears coach Dann Giesey said. "She hit everybody. It didn't matter who it was, (including) the best pitchers that we faced. She was the most consistent player for us all year. She played phenomenally." Chialdikas, a two-time All-North Suburban Conference selection, is not committed to a college.
Molly Dietz Lakes
For the fourth varsity season in a row, she and best friend/fellow lefty hitter Rachel Becker provided a deadly duo at the top of the Eagles' batting order. Dietz killed it again this spring. The All-Northern Lake County Conference First Team selection slashed .424/.527/.729 in helping the Eagles win 19 games. She had 3 homers, 13 doubles, 23 RBI and 23 runs scored. "She was her biggest critic," Lakes coach Bill Hamill said of his three-time all-area first baseman. "If she didn't hit the ball hard and one-hop it into the fence, she thought she had a bad at-bat. She is definitely one of the best that I've ever coached with two strikes on her. If there was a strike called and she didn't swing at it, I could probably argue with the ump because Molly didn't miss very many that were in the strike zone." Dietz signed a letter of intent to continue her softball career at Belmont University.
Maggie Evers Libertyville
A varsity player since her freshman year, the junior earned an increased role this season. The Wildcats' everyday designated player last season, she started at third base -- and did Evers ever deliver. She batted .355 with team-leading totals of 10 home runs and 37 RBI for the 25-game winners. She had 16 extra-base hits, in total, and the cleanup hitter also stole eight bases. "She was the emotional and vocal leader of this team," Wildcats coach Elissa Wisniewski said. "She did a great job stepping into the starting third base role and being a leader on the field."
Piper Foote Antioch
Foote didn't take her foot off the accelerator. She continued to zoom around the bases and perform at a high level. Moving from center field, where she played on varsity the last two years, the junior effectively patrolled shortstop. The repeat all-area selection batted .453 with a .509 on-base percentage. Her 43 hits included 13 doubles, 1 triple and 6 home runs. She also had 42 RBI, 32 runs scored and 9 stolen bases in 10 attempts, and she was named All-Northern Lake County Conference First Team. A three-sport athlete (tennis, basketball, softball), she projects as a shortstop for Western Illinois University, which received a verbal commitment from her last off-season. "She made a great transition from center field to shortstop," said coach Anthony Rocco, whose Sequoits won the NLCC championship. "Just a great athlete. She stepped it up for us. A leader on the field by example and her work."
Becca Geiyer Warren
With the graduation of Emily Hudgins (Penn State), the Blue Devils had an opening for a starting middle-infielder position. Geiyer not only stepped in, taking over at second base while Claire Swedberg slid over to shortstop, but produced at a high level. The junior, a first-year varsity player, secured a spot near the top of the batting order and took a .536 batting average into the sectional final. She was also named to the All-North Suburban Conference team.
Sydney Goessele Grant
Grant's coaches have liked her pitching ability since her freshman year, when they brought her up to varsity. This year, the senior showed she can hit pitching too. She batted .422 with 3 homers and 35 RBI, helping the Bulldogs win 20 games. Grant's returning ace was named All-Northern Lake County Conference Second Team. "Offensively, she was fantastic this year," Bulldogs coach Chris VanAlstine said. "We figured out in probably game 4 or 5 in Tennessee (during spring break) that we need her (bat) in the lineup when she isn't pitching. It became a challenge. So she occupied the DP role. She added offense to her game, and she really settled in as our (No.) 4 hitter." Goessele will continue her softball career at Aurora University, where VanAlstine said she projects to be a closer.
Alyia Haddon Libertyville
Perennial Lake County powerhouse Libertyville entered 2018 with eight varsity rookies and needed some of them to step up in order for the team to be successful again. The Wildcats were happy they had Haddon. She started the season in the outfield, moved to shortstop and kept producing, helping the Wildcats win 25 games and a regional championship. She finished with a .398 batting average (12 extra-base hits), 30 RBI and 12 stolen bases. "She did a great job moving into the shortstop role halfway through the season," Wildcats coach Elissa Wisniewski said. "She came up with some clutch hits for us."
Brooke Heraty Grayslake Central
When she wasn't hitting shots, she was calling them from behind the plate. An all-area player for a Rams team that won 26 games last season, she continued to impress at the plate and behind it. "In our 33 games (19 wins), she caught 31 of them and called all of the pitches," Rams coach Jason Schaal said. "She was our captain and is a player that every coach would want on their team." The lefty-hitting Heraty batted .412 (42 hits) and had a slugging percentage of .667. She hit 5 homers and drove in 31 runs. Defensively, she had a .973 fielding percentage. She was named All-Northern Lake County Conference First Team for the second year in a row. "She will finish her career at GCHS as one of the best to have worn the uniform," Schaal said. "I would put Brooke up against any catcher in this state for all that she does for a team both on and off the field." Heraty will continue her softball career for Trinity International University.
Sarah Hoyer Libertyville
As one of only two returning starters for a team that won 28 games last season, Hoyer needed to deliver both at the plate and, maybe more importantly, behind the plate considering the Wildcats returned no varsity pitching experience. She shined. The four-year varsity player batted .457 with 4 homers (18 extra-base hits, in total), 35 RBI and 13 stolen bases. The senior catcher also didn't commit an error, and the Wildcats notched 25 wins. She was named All-North Suburban Conference for the second year in a row. "She stepped up offensively this year to lead the team in overall hitting," Wildcats coach Elissa Wisniewski said. "She did a great job pairing with an inexperienced pitching staff."
Camryn Jones Lakes
A varsity player since her freshman year, the junior was tasked with playing a much larger role for the perennial winner this season. She responded. While Jones slashed .507/.565/.890 with 6 homers and 34 RBI, the former outfielder also stepped up behind the plate, where she replaced four-year starter Karlie Rotunno. Lakes entered the season with three pitchers on their staff. "She had a tough job," Eagles coach Bill Hamill said of Jones. "I told her, 'As a captain, you're in charge of the pitching staff.' I told her she needs to keep them on balance and make sure that they stay focused for us." Jones did. A disciplined hitter, she also scored 22 runs, drew 9 walks and struck out only four times. She was also named All-Northern Lake County Conference First Team.
Stephanie Keefe Lake Zurich
The junior took on bigger roles both at the plate and in the circle this season, and she rose to the challenge. As the Bears' cleanup hitter, Keefe drove in 39 runs while slashing .400/.448/.619. "She took advantage of (Elizabeth Chialdikas) getting walks (in the No. 3 hole), especially the second half of the year," Bears coach Dann Giesey said. Keefe, a varsity player since her freshman year, finished with 42 hits, including 11 doubles and 4 homers. She also served as the Bears' ace, winning 10 games and striking out 101 batters (33 walks) with a 2.80 ERA in 124 innings.
Elisa Koshy Grayslake Central
A hard-hitting volleyball player, Koshy clobbers the ball in this sport too. The junior first baseman set single-season team records in 4 offensive categories, including home runs with 16. She also had 46 RBI, 36 runs scored and 16 walks, including 12 intentional. She batted .489 (44 hits) and posted a 1.680 OPS. She also provided a trusty target at first base. "She had only 1 error as a first baseman," Rams coach Jason Schaal said of Koshy, who also caught. "She saved our team on many occasions from bad throws." Koshy was also named All-Northern Lake County Conference First Team.
Megan Lawrence Antioch
Like her teammate and classmate Piper Foote, the junior makes good contact when taking whacks at both tennis balls and softballs, while also displaying speed and athleticism. Lawrence, a two-year varsity starter in left field, batted .420 with 9 doubles, 2 triples, 5 homers and 40 RBI for the 26-game winners. She scored 32 runs and stole 10 bases in as many attempts. "Once she gets on and knocks a run in, she can take second and score," Sequoits coach Anthony Rocco said. Lawrence's season also included a walk-off sacrifice fly against Dakota in the Byron tournament and walk-off single against McHenry. "She's a disciplined hitter," Rocco said. "She knows the zone. And she can also lay down a bunt, and that makes it tough for the defense."
Brianna Negrete McGinley Round Lake
The Panthers played only 25 games, but the senior catcher made an impact in most of them. The three-year varsity player led the team in batting average (.464), on-base percentage (.581), slugging percentage (.750), doubles (7) and tied for most RBI (19). She also belted 3 home runs, walked 17 times and scored 27 runs. Panthers coach Patrick DeDina called her "a positive, coachable, student-athlete who will succeed at anything she sets her mind to."
Nicole Pieper Vernon Hills
Pieper picked it and produced. The senior second baseman enjoyed a breakout season at the plate, batting .496 (56 hits) with 20 doubles, 3 triples and 4 homers in her fourth varsity campaign, while also driving in 40 runs and posting .551 on-base, .832 slugging and .957 fielding percentages. Named a team captain, she led by example. "Nicole hit for average and power this year," Cougars coach Jan Pauly said. "She sparked our defense on the right side of the field and made some spectacular plays. Nicole is the leader of our team on and off the field."
Jess Pozezinski Grayslake North
How did the Knights replace the bat of two-time all-area selection Jenna Pozezinski, who graduated last year? Jenna's sister helped. Jess, a freshman, won a starting outfield spot and hit a ton. She slashed .463/.489/.650 with her 37 hits including 9 doubles and 2 homers. She also had 27 RBI and 8 stolen bases. "What's most impressive about her stats is that she hit behind Grace Brown (all-area captain) for the about 75 percent of our season," Knights coach Lea Corcoran said. "Which meant that many teams were willing to work around Grace and take their chances with a freshman batting cleanup. She made teams pay for that." Pozezinski hit her first career grand slam against Grant after Brown was intentionally walked. "She came up in high-pressure situations all season long and produced," Corcoran said. "She's fast, has a good arm and gets a great read off balls in center. You can hear teams cheering on what look to be hits to the outfield, assuming that they're going to drop, before Jess seems to come out of nowhere to make a tough play look routine. She's got a really bright future ahead of her the next three seasons. I'm very excited to see how good she becomes as she gets older."
Abby Pyburn Antioch
Last year, Pyburn played a little bit of everywhere as a "super utility," as Sequoits coach Anthony Rocco called her role. This season, she took full advantage of playing every day. The junior second baseman had a breakout season, hitting .483 (.200 points higher than last year). And while she slap hits, she showed power with 4 doubles, 2 triples and 1 homer. She also drove in 17 runs, scored 29 times, stole 9 bases in 10 attempts and boasted a .545 on-base percentage. Her walk-off single provided a huge late-season win over Lakes. "She stepped it up really well this year," Rocco said. "She's another kid who's hard to defend against. She's got the ability to go all directions on the field and lay down a bunt. And defensively, she's really slick."
Sydney Schuda Carmel Catholic
Her nearly 4-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio spoke plenty about her improvement in the circle. That same ratio was about 1-to-1 last spring in her first season as a regular varsity pitcher. "Her control, her composure and the little things that come along with growing up (were the keys to her improvement)," Corsairs coach Shane Schueneman said of his junior, who also played first base in an All-East Suburban Catholic Conference campaign. "She came a long way. She had more confidence in herself. She started throwing a couple of more pitches. She got her changeup working, and that helped." Schuda threw 140⅓ innings, striking out 159 batters and walking 43, while posting a 3.18 ERA. She struck out a career-high 16 batters and walked just one in an eight-inning loss to Mundelein at Community Park. She also posted a winning record (12-10), despite losing to ESCC powerhouses Marist and Joliet Catholic as well as twice to supersectional champ Palatine and once to Warren. Carmel's cleanup hitter, she also hit .327 and hit 5 home runs.
Kayla Serio Wauconda
The junior has displayed veteran-like skills since her freshman year on varsity, and that was particularly needed this spring, as the Bulldogs fielded a young team. The pitcher/middle infielder delivered again both at the plate and in the circle in earning all-area honors for the second year in a row. Serio batted .500 (35-for-70) with 12 doubles and 2 homers and produced a 1.353 OPS. She also scored 23 runs, drove in 17, walked 18 times and struck out only twice. "She was the best hitter we had on a very young team with little varsity experience this season," Bulldogs coach Tim Orisek said. "Kayla was a player I could count on to get on base consistently (97-percent contact rate) and give us a chance to score when she was due up in the order. There are plenty of talented players in the area, and Kayla is definitely one of them in my opinion, and I look forward to having her back for one more year and doing even better than she did this past season. Our lineup will be more experienced, and we have some younger players coming up that will contribute next season, giving her more protection in the lineup."
Faith Standerski Grayslake North
Standerski stands on her head playing shortstop. "She was always smooth, but her ability to read the ball off the bat has led to some ESPN Top 10-worthy plays this year," Knights coach Le Corcoran said of her two-year starter. "She makes really difficult plays look effortless and covers an outstanding amount of ground." The sophomore built on a strong freshman season. A .460 hitter last year, she batted .441 (41 hits) with a .505 on-base percentage, totaling 8 doubles, 5 triples and 3 homers. She also walked 12 times, knocked in 31 runs, scored a school-record 42 runs, stole 11 bases and struck out only four times. She was named All-Northern Lake County Conference First Team. "She's got a fantastic eye at the plate," Corcoran said. "She has great instincts on the base paths. She always puts herself in the best position to score runs for our team. ... She keeps getting better every year, and her next two seasons should be something special."
Claire Swedberg Warren
The hit machine continued to spray the softball all over the diamond. It didn't matter that she moved to shortstop following two seasons as the varsity's starting second baseman. The speedy Swedberg had 47 hits in helping the Blue Devils win 28 games and go undefeated in North Suburban Conference play. She signed a letter of intent to play softball for Penn State University.
Jordan Swiatkowski Carmel Catholic
Swiatkowski can swat the softball a long way and in clutch situations. She showed that as a freshman two years ago, when she homered in the Corsairs' supersectional win. Her bat has helped her earn a spot on the All-East Suburban Catholic Conference team the last two years. This season, she had team-leading totals of 7 homers and 32 RBI. "She had a lot of clutch hits," Carmel coach Shane Schueneman said. Swiatkowski hit despite playing multiple positions, including first base, third base and catcher. "She moves around, which is hard on any player," Schueneman said. "We can trust her at different places. She's just a hard-nosed kid. She doesn't show a lot of emotion on the field, but off the field she's just the sweetest kid and very team-first."
Calista Warmowski Grant
Few players collect more dirt in their uniform. The three-year varsity starter is constantly diving, hustling and making plays, whether it's in the infield or on the base paths. An all-area selection since her freshman year and repeat All-Northern Lake County Conference First Team choice, the junior shortstop hit .410. Her 45 hits included 4 homers, and she scored 45 runs. She might have been even better at snagging groundballs, turning would-be hits into outs and showing off her strong arm. "She had such a great defensive year," said coach Chris VanAlstine, whose Bulldogs won 20 games. "She made plays that most people can't think of getting to. ... She's just so fast at shortstop. It's effortless for her. Defensively, she was such a huge part (of our success)."
Player School Yr. Pos.
Breanna Adams Mundelein Sr. P/SS
Rachel Becker Lakes Sr. SS
Erin Bengston Grant Sr. 3B
Delaney Bowen Vernon Hills Jr. SS
Grace Bradley Grayslake Central Jr. P/OF
Caitlyn Britton Warren Jr. P
*Grace Brown Grayslake North Jr. 3B
Kira Buckner Mundelein So. 3B/P
Elizabeth Chialdikas Lake Zurich So. 3B/C
Molly Dietz Lakes Sr. 1B
Maggie Evers Libertyville Jr. 3B
Piper Foote Antioch Jr. SS
Becca Geiyer Warren Jr. 2B
Sydney Goessele Grant Sr. P
Alyia Haddon Libertyville Jr. OF/SS
Brooke Heraty Grayslake Central Sr. C
Sarah Hoyer Libertyville Sr. C
Camryn Jones Lakes Jr. C
Stephanie Keefe Lake Zurich Jr. P/3B
Elisa Koshy Grayslake Central Jr. 1B
Megan Lawrence Antioch Jr. OF
Brianna Negrete McGinley Round Lake Sr. C
Nicole Pieper Vernon Hills Sr. 2B
Jenna Pozezinski Grayslake North Fr. OF
Abby Pyburn Antioch Jr. 2B
Sydney Schuda Carmel Jr. P/1B
Kayla Serio Wauconda Jr. P/IF
Faith Standerski Grayslake North So. SS
Claire Swedberg Warren Sr. SS
Jordan Swiatkowski Carmel Jr. 1B/3B
Calista Warmowski Grant Jr. SS
*-- all-area captain
Honorable mentionDeighton Butenschoen (Antioch Sr. C), Alyssa Carr (Grayslake North Jr. OF), Emily Etherington (Round Lake Jr. SS), Haley Gajewski (Lake Zurich Jr. C), Kaitlyn Griffin (Mundelein Sr. 1B), Tatiana Guletsky (Vernon Hills Sr. 1B), Elisa Handler (Vernon Hills So. C), Emily Hilldale (Libertyville Sr. CF), Ashlyn Kitter (Warren Jr. CF), Emy Krysa (Carmel Jr. LF/2B), Allison Lambert (Mundelein Jr. 2B), Danielle Lambert (Mundelein Jr. LF), Megan Mitchell (Grant Jr. 1B), Maggie O'Brien (Stevenson Jr. 2B/3B), Georgia Ohren (Lakes Sr. CF), Amanda Page (Libertyville Jr. P), Charla Ryan (Round Lake Sr. 3B), Kaylee Schreiner (Antioch Sr. CF), Gina Shanley (Stevenson Sr. OF/UT), Morgan Smigielski (Grayslake Central Sr. RF/2B), Ashlyn Sundell (Antioch Fr. RF), Carissa Topolinski (Warren So. 3B), Kelsey Ulrich (Lakes Jr. 2B), Marla Walinski (Carmel Jr. P/SS), Julia Zaucha (Lake Zurich Jr. SS)
Selections and profiles by Joe Aguilar