The DuPage County All-Area Softball Team
Halle Arends, Naperville Central
Arends is a junior committed to the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. "She's really good emotionally, physically, mentality and with maturity. She's a smart pitcher that continues to get better," coach Andy Nussbaum said. She was 18-11 this spring with 239 strikeouts to 62 walks and a 2.52 ERA. For the season she hit .382. Nussbaum expects great things from her in 2019. "I think she'll continue to gain speed and control. She's one of the area's most dominant pitchers," he said.
Rissa Bajusz, Metea Valley
The sophomore pitcher again made strides in her second varsity season, winning 11 games with a 2.68 ERA with 214 strikeouts to 54 walks over 151⅓ innings of work. She earned all-DuPage Valley Conference honors. Bajusz pitched a 2-hitter in the regular-season finale against co-DVC champ Wheaton Warrenville South, struck out 17 in a no-hitter against Glenbard North and gave up just three runs and broke her own school strikeouts record. "She became stronger with each outing and provided a great balance between staying relaxed and being competitive," coach Kris Kalivas said.
Renee Bielawa, Downers Grove North
The senior, an all-West Suburban Silver honoree, had big contributions both at the plate and as a center fielder. She hit .419 during the regular season with 23 RBI and scored 33 runs as the Trojans reached a sectional semifinal. She also connected on 7 doubles and 2 home runs. "She had a strong arm and could track down the ball in the gap," coach Eric Landschoot said. "As a hitter, she primarily hit leadoff but hit in the middle a few times." Bielawa will play at Hillsdale College next season.
Kaitlyn Bresingham, Wheaton Warrenville South
The unanimous all-DuPage Valley Conference selection hit .397, but the first baseman's defensive contributions were crucial to the Tigers earning a 20-win season and a share of the DVC championship. "It was her consistency on defense. She was very solid, made every play," coach Jeff Pawlak said. "At the plate she could be 0-for-4 or 4-for-4 and her demeanor would be the same. She's the type of kid that you would want in crucial situations. She rarely struck out." The junior finished the season with 22 RBI and 7 doubles.
Mady Carli, Glenbard South
The senior all-Metro Suburban Conference second baseman contributed both at the plate and in the field. "Defensively, she was just solid. It's pretty much guaranteed that she would get to (the ball) and no doubt make the play," coach Julie Fonda said. "She was a good leader and each season she built upon the last." Carli hit .500 with an on-base percentage of. 593. Fonda said Carli is especially good at not giving the defense clues as to what she'll do at the plate, whether she'll swing away or slap at the ball." She stole 33 bases and was caught stealing just twice. Carli will play at Arizona Christian University.
Carlee Clark, St. Francis
The GCAC White Division Player of the Year was crucial to another successful season that ended in a sectional final appearance and will be crucial to St. Francis' hopes in 2019. The pitcher/first baseman hit .506 at the plate with 9 home runs and 8 doubles and knocked in 49 runs. She was 10-1 as a pitcher with 108 strikeouts to 12 walks and an 1.28 ERA. "Nobody works harder than that kid," coach Ralph Remus said. "As a pitcher, she's gotten much better hitting her spots and changing speeds."
Bri Clifton, Montini
Not many softball players can say they have a shot at helping their team win its second state title in two years. Going into the Class 3A finals this weekend, the senior pitcher stands at 22-5 over 160 innings of work with a 2.18 ERA and 159 strikeouts. Clifton will play at Nicholls State University. "Bri has been the backbone in the circle of a senior class that has gone 121-26 over four years, winning four regional championships, three sectional championships and a state championship," coach Mike Bukovsky said.
Nikki Cuchran, Montini
Last season's All-Area Captain picked up right where she left off this spring with her hitting power helping the Broncos earn a chance to win a second Class 3A title since 2016. She is hitting .703 with 78 RBI and 54 runs scored this season. She belted out 19 doubles and 15 home runs. "This year … the best thing about her is she does the right thing. She's not going to chase and make an out. She's going to get on base three times a game. You'd love for her to get a pitch to hit out," coach Mike Bukovsky said. Cuchran will play softball next season at DePaul.
Estelle Czech, Downers Grove North
A force for the Trojans with her bat and as a pitcher as Downers North reached a sectional semifinal. The all-West Suburban Silver selection hit .443 during the regular season with 28 RBI, four home runs and she scored 22 runs. In the pitching circle she struck out 75 over 61 innings and finished the season 9-3. "Estelle is a great hitter, hits for power, average and is a lefty," coach Eric Landschoot said. "She's an outstanding pitcher, throws hard and has command over multiple pitches."
Lauren Derkowski, York
It was a highly successful inaugural varsity season for the freshman pitcher, who already has verbally committed to the University of Michigan. The all-West Suburban Silver pick was 19-5 going into York's first state finals appearance since 2013. During the regular season she posted a 1.94 ERA with 181 strikeouts over 115 innings of work. Three of her regular-season losses were to teams on the Dukes' Florida trip. "She's a unique kid that's only going to get better. I can tell that by her determination day in and day out," coach Elizabeth Munn said.
Madison Ebeling, Wheaton Academy
The Loyola recruit earned the praise of coach Todd Starowitz for her leadership. On the field the three-time all-state selection hit .526 with a .650 on-base percentage. The senior shortstop and sometimes leadoff hitter had 2 home runs, 3 triples and 6 doubles. She did not strike out all season. "I have umpires come up to me and say, 'Wow. That shortstop is really special,'" Starowitz said. "She makes difficult plays look routine. She hits for power. She has all the tools."
Jessica Gaseor, Lake Park
The senior was a unanimous all-DuPage Valley Conference selection and was second in voting for conference player of the year. Coach Tom Mazzie said Lake Park needed a leader and found one with Gaseor. "She was the best leader we had. Every day she worked hard. She was as flawless a center fielder that I have coached. She was an effective slap hitter in the middle of a lineup among power hitters," he said. Gaseor, who will walk on the University of Tampa softball team, hit .466 with 19 RBIs, 12 stolen bases and just 7 strikeouts in 120 at-bats.
Zoe Herdman, Neuqua Valley
Herdman was named DuPage Valley Conference Player of the Year. She hit .488 and led Neuqua with 10 home runs and 48 RBI along with 13 doubles as the Wildcats were co-DuPage Valley Conference champions. Herdman was 9-4 on the mound and made just 3 fielding errors all spring. She will play at Butler University. "Zoe was not only a standout at shortstop but an offensive threat all season long," coach Christina Chrencik said.
Daniella Little, Glenbard South
The junior did most of the pitching for the Raiders this season as they reached the Class 3A sectional semifinal. Her record stood at 13-3 at the start of the sectional with a 1.91 ERA, 171 strikeouts and 33 walks. She racked up 18 RBI and 2 home runs. "She doesn't let things bother her. She pitches her game and keeps her mind focused and shakes off what has happened in the past," coach Julie Fonda said. "She's only going to get better."
Josie Lytton, IC Catholic Prep
Lytton's efforts were vital to the Knights reaching a Class 2A supersectional for the second consecutive season. The senior was Player of the Year in the Metro Suburban Conference Blue Division. She never struck out in 120 at-bats and is second on the state record list for triples in a season with 15. Lytton had 4 triples in one game this season. "She's a team leader and what a clutch player. She always came through," said IC coach Frank Reaber. Lytton will play at Aurora University.
Kara McKenna, Downers Grove South
Her efforts were crucial to the Mustangs earning their fifth regional title of the last six seasons. The senior third baseman, an all-West Suburban Gold player, belted out a team-leading 31 RBI and 8 homers during the regular season. She also had 10 doubles. "Kara is the type of athlete that leads by example. She works hard in the off-season and is one of the most consistent players that I have coached," coach Lauren Berg said. McKenna will play at Milwaukee School of Engineering.
Abby Meeks, Neuqua Valley
The all-DuPage Valley Conference junior second baseman slammed 9 home runs while hitting .448 with 38 RBI as Neuqua won a share of the DVC title. "When Abby hit the ball, she did all kinds of damage, making her one of the most dangerous threats in our lineup," coach Christina Chrencik said. "Most teams shied away from her, walking her 18 times. She is one of the best young players I've ever been around. She is such a competitor and you see her all the time diving for balls at second."
Kaitlyn Scheitler, Glenbard North
The junior third baseman/pitcher was a unanimous all-DuPage Valley Conference selection in her third varsity season. She hit .433 with 8 home runs and 24 RBI. She had 3 doubles, 2 triples and struck out just six times in 67 at-bats. Scheitler and senior Trinity Medina were the sparks at the plate for the Panthers this season. "They are two of the best hitters that I have coached," coach Josh Sanew said. "They both got pitched around but still hit the ball a lot. I can't say enough about them, just two good hitters."
Kacie Vlach, Wheaton Warrenville South
The senior had one shot to be No. 1 pitcher in her second varsity season and she made the most of it, finishing 14-5 with a 2.19 ERA with 186 strikeouts to just 15 walks. Her efforts helped lead WW South to 20 wins and a co-DuPage Valley Conference title. "Her confidence and having a chance to be in that position were the two biggest things for her going into this season and she competed to be in that position," coach Jeff Pawlak said.
Shelby Winkelman, St. Francis
It was another great year for the senior, an all-GCAC selection, whose efforts were vital to the Spartans winning the GCAC White Division and reaching a sectional final. In the pitching circle she was 12-1 with a 0.98 ERA and 109 strikeouts to 25 walks. As a hitter she had a .479 batting average with 33 RBI, 4 home runs and 11 doubles. "Shelby was consistent in hitting and pitching and set a good example as a leader," coach Ralph Remus said. Winkelman will play at Rockhust University.
Grace Biondo, Naperville Central, sr., C; Jessica Bongiorno, Glenbard West, sr., OF; Caroline Caesar, St. Francis, jr., C; Caleigh Cramer, Waubonsie Valley, sr., 3B; Caroline Dooley, Willowbrook, fr., P; Amanda Ericson, Lisle, sr., P; Kayla Faber, IC Catholic Prep, jr., P/2B; Alyssa Filkowski, Montini, jr., OF; Emily Finger, Metea Valley, jr., C; Natalie Grubczak, Lake Park, jr., P; Janelle Honaker, Naperville North, sr., SS; Katherine Karnatz, York, jr., SS; Ree Knudtson, Willowbrook, fr., 2B; Kyra Kroll, York, sr., CF; Isa Lozada, Fenton, jr., SS; Randi McKay, Downers Grove South, jr., P/IF/OF; Aerin Moberg, Wheaton Warrenville South, sr., OF; Dani Murillo, IC Catholic Prep, so., 3B; Danielle Olson, Neuqua Valley, sr., C; Tori Tyler, Glenbard East, sr., P.