Here, selected via vote of The Times Sports staff, is The Times 2021 Softball All-Area Team:
Katie Baker, Serena, SS, jr.: Baker was a solid offensive threat for the Huskers all season. She hit .437 with four doubles, six triples, a home run, 34 runs scored and 12 RBIs. She was named unanimously to the All-Little Ten Conference team for the second straight time and was an Illinois Coaches Association Class 1A All-State selection.
Abby Bukantis, Ottawa, P, sr.: Bukantis, a unanimous selection and The Times 2021 Softball Player of the Year, compiled a 15-4 record with a 0.85 ERA while striking out 175 batters in 123 2/3 innings. She was named an All-Interstate Eight Conference member, the league’s Most Valuable Player, as well as an ICA Class 3A first-team honoree.
Maggie Carpenter, Seneca, P/2B, sr.: A unanimous selection, Carpenter was a fantastic dual threat for the Irish. She hit .505 with seven doubles, three triples, 39 runs scored and 20 RBIs and went 15-3 in the circle with a 1.29 ERA and 198 strikeouts in 114 innings. She was an All-Tri-County Conference first-team selection as well as a member of the ICA Class 2A first team.
Alyssa Cassie, Sandwich, SS/OF, sr.: Cassie led the Indians with a .469 averagen. She had two-run homers against Rochelle and Ottawa, three hits in a game against Sycamore and went 4 for 6 in a doubleheader against Wheaton St. Francis. She was named to the All-Interstate Eight Conference team.
Abi Claus, Ottawa, SS, sr.: A unanimous selection, Claus excelled in her new spot defensively in the field for the Pirates while hitting .372. She had a team-high 35 hits with five doubles, a triple, 16 runs scored, 23 RBIs and nine stolen bases. She was named to the All-Interstate Eight Conference team and the ICA Class 3A third team.
Jadyn Hansen, Streator, P, sr.: A unanimous selection, Hansen paced the Bulldogs with a .500 average and 36 hits, including eight doubles and a triple, while also scoring 16 runs; and through injury went 5-4 with a 3.22 ERA and fanned 77 batters in 74 innings. She was voted to the All-Illinois Central Eight Conference team.
Zoe Hougas, Seneca, C, jr.: A unanimous selection, Hougas had a terrific season behind the plate and batting in the clean-up spot for the Irish. She hit .390 with 32 hits, 10 doubles, a triple, three homers, 20 runs scored and 28 RBIs. She was selected to the Tri-County All-Conference First Team.
Audrey Jenkins, Woodland/Flanagan-Cornell, SS, sr.: A unanimous selection, Jenkins hit .471 with 32 hits, six doubles, five triples, two home runs, 36 runs scored and 18 RBIs in addition to her dependable work at shortstop. She was voted to the All-Tri-County Conference first team as well as to the ICA Class 2A first team.
Kaylee Killelea, Marquette, P/CF, so.: A unanimous selection, Killelea hit .425 with 31 hits, two doubles, two triples, a home run, 17 runs scored and 18 RBIs, while also going 8-6 with a 1.68 ERA and 144 strikeouts in 83 1/3 innings. She was named to the All-Tri-County Conference first team as well as to the ICA Class 1A third team.
Taylor Kruser, Newark, SS/P, so.: Kruser was a solid overall performer for the Norsemen. She hit .391 with 27 hits, 20 runs scored and 15 RBIs, while also recording a 3-0 mark in the circle with a 1.54 ERA. She was a unanimous selection to the All-Little Ten Conference team.
Sydnee Plesko, Woodland/Flanagan-Cornell, 1B/OF, sr.: A unanimous selection, Plesko led the Warriors with a .551 average and 38 hits, including nine doubles and a triple, while scoring 18 runs and driving in a team-best 29. She was voted to the All-Tri-County Conference second team.
Kaitlyn Schofield, Newark, OF/P, so.: A unanimous selection, Schofield hit .455 with 30 hits, five doubles, five homers, 21 runs scored and 30 RBIs, while also going 9-2 with a 1.17 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 65 1/3 innings. She was selected to the All-Little Ten Conference squad as well as being named an ICA Class 1A third team honoree.
Paisley Twait, Serena, C, fr.: A unanimous selection, Twait led the Huskers with a .507 average and 32 RBIs, while also compiling 38 hits, 12 doubles, three triples, four home runs and 31 runs. She was voted to the Little Ten All-Conference squad as well as selected to the ICA Class 1A Third Team.
Sam Vandevelde, Seneca, SS, fr.: A unanimous selection, Vandevelde hit .422 with 38 hits, seven doubles, six triples, five homers, 31 runs scored and a team-high 35 RBIs. She was named to the All-Tri-County Conference first team as well as to the ICA Class 2A third team.
I worked for 25 years as a CNC operator and in 2005 answered an ad in The Times for a freelance sports writer position. I became a full-time sports writer/columnist for The Times in February of 2016.
I enjoy researching high school athletics history, and in my spare time like to do the same, but also play video games and watch Twitch.