Softball: Record Newspapers 2024 season preview capsules

Oswego’s Jaelynn Anthony (20) delivers a pitch against Yorkville during a softball game at Oswego High School on Tuesday, April 25, 2023.

The high school softball season starts this week. Here are previews of teams from around the Record Newspapers coverage area.


Coach: Jon Wood

Last season’s record: 30-2, 12-0 Little Ten Conference, first place

Top returning players: Kodi Rizzo, sr., P/UT; Danica Peshia, sr., C/UT; Ryan Williams, sr., SS; Kate Bromeland, jr., 1B; Dottie Wood, jr., P/2B.

Top new players: Adelaide Johnson, fr., 3B/OF.

Worth noting: First-year coach Wood takes over a Newark team that followed up its fourth-place finish at state in 2022 with 30 wins and a sectional final appearance last season. Two-way standout Kaitlyn Schofield has graduated, but much of the core of the last two seasons returns. Leading the way is Rizzo, a three-year starter second team all-state last year after posting a 1.10 ERA with 97 strikeouts in the circle. Also back is Peshia, also a three-year starter and second team all-state after posting a .500 average with an .809 slugging percentage, and Williams, a three-year starter who hit .504 with an .840 slugging percentage last year. Johnson is a freshman to watch with speed on the bases, a strong bat and solid defense.

“The team will continue to play strong defense with a volatile offense,” Wood said. “As with any team when there is a change in the coaching staff, learning a new system and expectations of the athletes will take time. We are a large team of 17 athletes, and communication and learning every athlete’s role will take some time.”


Coach: Paul Netzel

Last season: 23-12, 10-6 Southwest Prairie Conference

Top returning players: Jaelynn Anthony, so., P; Aubriella Garza, junior, P/3b; Marissa Moffett, sr., OF; Maddie Hernandez, sr., IF; Ella Boling, sr., OF; Kaylee LaChappell, sr., OF; Kiyah Chavez, jr., C; Rhiana Martinez, jr., 2B; Rikka Ludvigson, jr., OF.

Top new players: Natalie Muellner, jr., OF; Savannah Page, so., OF.

Worth noting: Cori Kennedy, who set Oswego records for home runs in a season and hits in a career, has graduated and is now at Jacksonville University – but the cupboard is far from bare. Garza, committed to Northern Illinois, set a single-season hits school record last year with 54 and batted .478 with 27 runs scored, 54 hits, 37 RBIs, 13 doubles, two triples and seven homers. She also went 13-4 with 62 strikeouts in the circle. Anthony was an all-conference pitcher as a freshman. Also back is Illinois State recruit Moffet, UW-Parkside commit Hernandez, Hendrix commit Boling and speedster LaChappell, a Missouri S&T commit. Oswego has seven players committed to play at the next level.

Netzel projects honorable mention all-conference catcher Chavez, an Iowa recruit, to take on a bigger role this season, likewise Martinez and Ludvigson. Oswego for the first time this season will travel to Gulf Shores, Ala., to compete in the Gulf Coast Classic over spring break.

Netzel said Oswego’s season outlook includes contending for the program’s first SPC championship since 2019 and first regional title since 1987.

Oswego East

Coach: Sarah Davies

Last season’s record: 24-10, second in Southwest Prairie Conference, lost to Yorkville in sectional semifinal

Top returning players: Finley Anderson, sr., OF; Ronnie Craft, sr., 2B; Nicole Stone, sr., P/1B; Mary Kate Quaid, sr., SS/C; Tristin Hyland, sr., P/3B; Ryenne Sinta, jr., C/IF; Lundin Cornelius, jr., OF.

Top new players: Allie Gatz, jr., P/1B; Avery Robertson, so., 1B/OF; Katie Maday, so., UT.

Worth noting: The Wolves are ranked 15th in Class 4A in the preseason Illinois Coaches Association poll, and Davies believes with her roster can contend for the first conference championship in school history. A strong returning core is back with solid pitching. Anderson, a Minnesota State-Mankato recruit, hit .456 with 52 hits, 26 RBIs and 11 stolen bases as a junior and was third team all-state. Hillsdale College commit Craft hit .470 with 54 hits, 25 runs and 16 stolen bases and was also third team all-state. UW-Stout commit Stone hit .419 with 39 hits and 23 RBIs, and went 7-5 in the circle. Quaid, committed to UW-Oshkosh, batted .369 with 41 hits and 29 RBIs. Hyland will play collegiately at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.


Coach: Dwayne Love

Last season’s record: 6-22, 0-12 Interstate 8 Conference

Top returning players: Lindsey Cocks, jr., SS/3B; Taylor Downs, jr., SS/3B; Alyssa Dubinski, sr., P/3B; Bri Clark, jr., C/2B/3B; Lainey Lemke, sr., OF; Annabelle Solis, so., C/CF; Leslie Juarez, sr., 2B; Alyssa Dexter, so., OF/P; Gizelle Baltierrez, so., P/1B.

Top new players: Kenli Dembry, jr., OF; Cami Nunez, fr., OF; Chloe Rowe, fr., 1B/OF/P; Ella Stotler, jr., OF.

Worth noting: The Reapers are looking forward to playing in the Kishwaukee River Conference. All-stater Cocks, who hit .471 as a sophomore, leads the returning players. Dubinski hit .340 and Downs .317. The Reapers will be taking a spring trip to southern Illinois to play Harrisburg, Murphysboro and Anna Jonesboro.

“This is a good group of girls that are playing well together and aren’t afraid to play hard and get dirty,” Love said.

Yorkville’s Kayla Kersting connects against Marist in the Class 4A state championship game on Saturday, June 10, 2023 in Peoria.


Coach: Mattie McGuire

Last season’s record: 14-13, 5-9 Interstate 8 Conference, lost in regional final to Johnsburg

Top returning players: Aubrey Cyr, jr., P/OF; Gianna Lawrence, sr., OF; Alexis Sinetos, sr., 1B/3B; Jillian Ashley, sr., 2B/C; Peyton Dudzik, sr., OF/P; Johanna Freemon, sr., UT; Brooklyn Marks, jr., SS/P.

Top new players: Kayden Corneils, so., C.

Worth noting: McGuire, in her ninth season, said this year’s team strengths come from the amount of girls who have varsity experience since their sophomore year. They include Cyr, all-conference and all-state last season. Sandwich did graduate the meat of its lineup led by all-conference shortstop Breanna Sexton, so the returning players and newcomers will need to rise to the challenge. Lawrence and Dudzik are both committed to Waubonsee Community College. Sinetos is coming back from a season-ending injury last year and is a strong bat. Corneils will be Sandwich’s catcher. McGuire noted that even as a younger player, she has shown maturity and experience to lead the team from behind the plate.

“Our goals this year include having a winning record in our new conference, and pushing past regionals this year,” McGuire said. “Many of these girls have played together since before high school as well as their whole high school career, so we’re going to be utilizing the team chemistry for our success.”


Coach: Jory Regnier

Last season’s record: 36-3 overall, first place in Southwest Prairie Conference, lost to Marist in Class 4A state championship game

Top returning players: Jensen Krantz, sr., 1B; Makenzie Sweeney, sr., IF; Kayla Kersting, so., C/3B; Regan Bishop, sr., 3B; Sarah Carlson, sr., P; Emmy Judd, sr., IF.

Worth noting: The Foxes are coming off the greatest season in program history – 36 wins and a second-place finish in Class 4A in their first state tournament appearance. Yorkville has gone 114-21 over the last four seasons. Graduated, though, is three-time Record Newspapers Player of the Year Madi Reeves, the Foxes’ ace pitcher now at Miami of Ohio, with top hitters Sara Ebner and Kaitlyn Roberts also moving on to college. Leading the returnees is Kersting, who hit .456 with a .537 on-base percentage, six homers, 37 RBIs and 39 runs scored in a stellar freshman season. Other starters back are Purdue recruit Krantz, who hit .413 with 26 RBIs, 11 runs scored and had the game-winning hit in the state semifinal, leadoff hitter Sweeney, who hit .288 with a .350 on-base percentage and 41 runs scored with 13 RBIs, and Bishop, who hit .254 with a .371 on-base percentage and 12 RBIs with 11 runs scored.

“It is always difficult to lose major contributors, but the good news is that the Foxes have returners who were a part of last year’s success to set the standard and expectations for a group of newcomers,” said Regnier, now in her 10th year as head coach. “This year the Foxes will have some young talent, and in combination with leadership from last year’s returners they are looking for a competitive season against strong competition in the area.”

Yorkville Christian

Coach: Tracey Stoneberg

Last season’s record: 10-10

Top returning players: Grace Allgood, jr., P/SS; Sydney Baze, sr., 1B/3B; Emma Schleining, so., 2B/P/C; Bridget Hooper, so., 3B/1B/P; Isabella Bitner, sr., 3B/OF; Laura Brancati, so., OF/IF; Kyla Motley, so., OF/IF.

Top new players: Ava Donahue, fr., SS/C; Alyssa Mata, so., IF/OF.

Worth noting: The Mustangs look to be strong in the circle again with the return of second team all-state pitcher Allgood, who struck out 165 last season while batting .448 at the plate. Unfortunately, Allgood’s senior catcher Kaelia Fox opted to not come out for softball. Schleining is stepping in to catch Allgood, leaving a gap at second base. Hooper finished last season with a .395 average and is switching corners from first to third base. Baze missed the last half of last season with an injury, but is back for her senior year at third base. Two new additions – Donahue and Mata – come with travel ball experience. Stoneberg hopes the Mustangs can overcome some challenges to be successful on the field.

The rest of the team is entering their first or second year of playing softball.

“So they have a lot to learn over a very short period before games begin,” Stoneberg said. “If we learn anything from this season as a team, it will be to persevere, push through adversity and never give up despite the circumstances we find ourselves in.”