Elmhurst Cougars 16-U travel softball wins championship
The Elmhurst Cougars 16-U travel softball team competed in the Melrose Park 16U Girls Fastpitch Softball League and won the championship on Oct. 18.
The team's overall current season record is 21-6. They were the Number 1 seed going into the Melrose Park 16-U League playoffs on Oct. 17, with a 12-2 record in the league.
In the semifinals, the Cougars team beat the Oak Park Falcons (Ruland) team by a score of 5-2.
Pitcher Kaleigh Younglove (Timothy Christian High School) gave the Cougars a strong start going 3⅓ innings while only giving up 3 hits. Gia Valentin (an Elmhurst eighth-grader) closed it out from the mound by holding the Falcons to no runs over the final 3⅔ innings. Laney Ledbetter (York High School), Kennedy Joe (Nazareth Academy) and Gia Valentin (Elmhurst eighth-grader) were all perfect at the plate going 2 for 2, 3 for 3 and 3 for 3, respectively.
In the field, the Cougars committed no errors in what turned out to be a low scoring, well-played game by both teams.
In the championship game, the Cougars played the Park Ridge Pistols 16-U and jumped out to an early lead with three runs in the first inning sparked by a leadoff home run by Lauren Ligouri (Bartlett High School). The Cougars did not let up -- scoring in every inning except one against the Park Ridge Pistols 16-U.
Maylin Nunez (William Howard Taft High School) singled during a six-run fourth inning where Amanda Drew (Hinsdale Central High School), Laney Ledbetter (York) and Kennedy Joe (Nazareth Academy) all drove in runs.
Amanda Drew (Hinsdale Central) went the distance from the mound going six strong innings and allowing no runs through the first five.
The Cougars' solid defense continued in the championship game as the Cougars turned in two stellar double plays, one started by second baseman Chloe Wetterquist (Timothy Christian) to end the first inning and the other started by shortstop Lauren Ligouri (Barlett High) to end the 4th.
As with the semifinal game, the Cougars committed zero errors in the championship game.
The Park Ridge Pistols did score four runs in the sixth inning for a final score of 12-4, but the game was already well in hand.
Olivia Ligouri caught both games for the Cougars throwing out two would be base stealers -- and effectively shutting down both opponents' running games on the day. Meanwhile, Elle Klein has been a stalwart defensively all season at first base and made solid plays to help preserve the Cougars' zero errors. Utility player Maylin Nunez (William Howard Taft) has been playing excellent defense wherever Coach Dan Younglove chooses to employ her including second base, shortstop and all three outfield positions. Nunez also ripped a triple during the earlier game.
Through this point in the season, the Cougars boast an imposing offense with seven players owning batting averages of 397 or better -- led by Olivia Ligouri (521) (Bartlett High); Lauren Ligouri (508) (Bartlett High); Gia Valentin (507) (Elmhurst eighth-grader); Amanda Drew (450) (Hinsdale Central); Chloe Wetterquist (434) (Timothy Christian); Maggie Catalano (426) (York High) and Kennedy Joe (397) (Nazareth Academy).
However, it has been Coach Younglove's attention to solid, fundamentally sound defense that has helped the Cougars to their 21-6 record this season. The Cougars anxiously await the return of their two injured players, Ana Kapotas (York) and Katelyn Hood (York) and expect to pose a more formidable challenge upon their return.