Early in her softball career at Rock Valley College, Kaitie Regnier admits she was consumed by how she performed at the plate.
“I was so persistent with, ‘What’s wrong with my swing?’ ” said Regnier, a Richmond-Burton graduate.
Coaches tweaked mechanical items here and there, but she never felt quite right. This spring, Regnier stopped asking that perpetual question and thrived, helping Rockford’s Rock Valley College win its seventh straight National Junior College Athletic Association Division III national championship.
“There was really nothing wrong with my swing,” she said. “I was so in my own head last year. I needed to hone in on my approach. Once I figured out that part, the rest of it clicked. That’s what made me the player I was this year.”
Regnier batted .459 with 13 doubles and 23 RBIs this season on a team that managed about 10 runs a game. Half of her hits this season were extra-base hits for Rock Valley (51-7), which beat Corning College, 13-2, in the May 30 national title game in Syracuse, N.Y.
Regnier was 2 for 3 with an RBI and two runs scored in the title game and earned all-tournament honors for the Golden Eagles, who did not play a postseason last year because of COVID-19. This season, the team scored 57 runs over four games at nationals.
“We were pretty offensive heavy,” said Regnier, who split time between second base and third base this spring. “We knew that at some point we would get to that pitcher.”
Though Regnier is leaving softball behind to study exercise science this fall at Illinois State, her memories will be long lasting.
“The most important thing they preach here is, ‘Just because you wear the jersey doesn’t mean you’re going to win,’ ” she said. “It’s very apparent how bad everyone wants it when they come here, and everyone connects on that level.”
All-American honors at SIU: Cary-Grove grad Ricky Hurley, a senior at Southern Illinois, earned honorable mention All-American honors Tuesday when he placed 17th in the hammer throw at the NCAA track and field nationals in Eugene, Ore.
Hurley’s top throw was a 225-feet, 9-inch career-best effort on his first throw of the championship finals. A redshirt junior, Hurley has won the Missouri Valley Conference hammer event three consecutive times, becoming only the second SIU athlete in history to accomplish that feat.
Springfield standout: Sophomore shortstop Carly Chovanec (Crystal Lake South) earned first-team All-Great Lakes Valley Conference this spring for D-II University of Illinois Springfield’s softball team. She batted .347 this season for the Prairie Stars (19-27) with a team-high three triples to go along with 15 RBIs and a .404 on-base percentage. She also posted a .469 slugging percentage.
Top-notch pitcher: Woodstock North grad Ellie Thurow, who helped Iowa’s Coe College to an NCAA tournament victory this spring for the fourth year in a row, was honored last month with the American Rivers Conference Pitcher of the Year award.
A sophomore right-hander at D-III Coe, Thurow posted a 13-7 record and a 3.31 ERA this spring while striking out 107 batters in 129 innings. She posted 12 complete games for Coe (25-15), which won the conference title for the first time since 2018 and only the sixth time in school history.
Contributing at NWC: Huntley grad Josh Thomas, a redshirt freshman offensive lineman for NAIA Northwestern College in Iowa, was part of the team’s run this spring to the national championship game. Northwestern (11-2) beat second-ranked Grand View, 27-24, in the quarterfinals and defending national champion and top-ranked Morningside, 44-41, in the semifinals.
On May 10, NWC lost a 45-13 decision to Kentucky’s Lindsey Wilson College in the title game. Thomas, a reserve lineman who played special teams this season, appeared in the national championship contest and six other games this spring.
Lacrosse recognition: Nicole Fischer (Huntley) and Bailey Steinkamp (Cary-Grove) were named honorable mention All-Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference in women’s lacrosse this spring.
Fischer, a junior defender at Aurora University, started 14 games for the Spartans (11-4), who advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division III tournament and won the conference title. A sophomore midfielder at Concordia Chicago, Steinkamp scored seven goals and had one assist for the Cougars (11-2).
Benedictine blocker: Algonquin’s Hannah Griffith, a junior middle blocker at D-III Benedictine University, earned honorable mention All-Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference during the spring women’s volleyball season. Griffith, a graduate of Harvest Christian Academy, had a team-high 29 blocks in 12 matches for the Eagles. She also averaged 1.58 kills a set.
Augie’s ace: Crystal Lake Central grad Olivia Doak was named co-Most Valuable Player honor by D-III Augustana College’s women’s volleyball program after the spring season. The senior setter averaged 8.46 assists a set this season, the third-most in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin.
· Barry Bottino writes about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow @BarryOnCampus on Twitter.