Softball: Providence leads SouthtownStar Preseason Top 10
By Tony Baranek firstname.lastname@example.org March 10, 2013 5:06PM
Five key returning players for Providence include (from lef) Morgan Greenwood, Tara Airola, Maeve Garvey, Courtney Pych and Amanda Wilson. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 12, 2013 6:06AM
Providence is doing more than stepping up in class from 3A to 4A. The Celtics also are stepping up in the rankings as our preseason No. 1.
“We’ll take it as an honor,” Providence coach Jay Biesterfeld said. “Obviously, we’re more concerned with being at the top at the end of the season, but I think (the ranking) shows how far our program has come.”
Providence played competitively throughout the 2012 season, but really hit its stride in the Class 3A state playoffs, which saw the Celtics post quality victories over Lemont, Tinley Park, Oak Forest and Geneseo. They were tripped in a state semifinal loss to Marengo, but rode Amanda Wilson’s arm to a 2-0 victory over Mattoon in the third-place game.
“Our kids got a taste of making it to state last year and coming ever so close to reaching the ultimate goal for a high school athlete,” Biesterfeld said. “I think they’re as hungry as ever wanting to make it back to complete the task.”
Wilson, a senior left-handed pitcher/first baseman, is back not only as a primary hurler, but with one of the team’s most potent bats. Wilson, who earned All-Area honors, hit .458, with 24 doubles and 31 RBI.
Another All-Area player returning for the Celtics is Morgan Greenwood, a sophomore shortstop who as a freshman hit .424, with 19 doubles and five homers. Junior shortstop Courtney Pych (.336, 5 HRs) is another seasoned veteran, while two newcomers to watch are freshmen P/OF Kendal Judge and C/OF Jessica Cothern.
Here’s the rest of the Preseason Top 10:
2. MARIST (27-15)
The RedHawks caught fire at the end of the regular season in 2012 and rode it all the way to a Class 4A state title. With several solid-hitting returnees, the offensive momentum should continue, but will a suitable replacement be found for pitching ace Kristin Klutcharch? If so, a trip to the top of the rankings could be a quick one. Junior shortstop Brooke Wyderski, who’s verbally committed to Loyola, is as versatile as they come. She hit .360 with 10 homers and 41 RBI. She made several big plays defensively during the playoff run. Senior third baseman Katie Caulfield (.347), senior first baseman Haley Richy (.341, 7 HRs, 36 RBI), sophomore outfielder Brooke Wilson (.346) and senior catcher Kaitlin Kenny also bring state experience.
3. ANDREW (31-6)
Winners of the SouthWest Suburban Red in 2012, the Thunderbolts should be in good shape to defend with six returning starters. They are led by Michigan-bound senior outfielder Kelly Christner, a four-year varsity starter who hit .526 with six homers and 43 RBI. Senior second baseman Jenna Lenza (.453, 45 RBI) is ticketed for Grand Valley State. Senior first baseman Caitlyn Migawa (.438, 43 RBI), senior infielder Megan Ricketts (.333), senior pitcher/outfielder Bobbi Gotschammer (7-0, 2.18 ERA) and senior outfielder Angela Robison (.317) are among other key returnees.
4. SANDBURG (21-16)
Coach Jim Fabianski is banking on a lot of returning Eagles wanting to atone for 2012, which saw them stutter-step through the regular season, then lose in walk-off fashion to eventual state champion Marist in a regional final. St. Peter’s-bound senior shortstop Candice Koch (.414 BA, .473 OBP) is their most consistent hitter, while Syracuse-bound senior catcher/first baseman Ellie Forkin (.429 BA, .450 OBP) brings the most power. Junior third baseman Brooke Heimerl, junior catcher Karli McLaughlin and junior outfielder Sarah Herold also saw plenty of playing time in 2012.
5. MARIAN CATHOLIC (24-12)
The Spartans never have won fewer than 21 games in coach Kerri Evans’ 12-year career. This year they should be typically solid behind the power hitting duo of senior catcher/first baseman Becca Stanton (.382, 8 HRs, 37 RBI) and senior shortstop Alex Nickel (.558, 11 doubles, 5 HRs, 42 runs), and the proven bat of sophomore pitcher/infielder Allison Spense (.406, 13 doubles). They could be better than solid if several underclassmen, including freshman catcher Meghan Henson, freshman second baseman Madison Kappers and freshman outfielder Susie Baranski adapt to varsity ball quickly.
6. MOTHER MCAULEY (25-11)
Senior first baseman Emily Powers is a leader for the Mighty Macs after a 2012 season in which she hit .447, with five homers, two of which came back-to-back against Richards in a Class 4A regional final victory. Senior outfielder Megan Bush (.326, 1.000 fielding) is entering her third varsity season as a starter. McAuley coach Colleen Kilduff has high hopes for sophomore utility player Emily Rux and junior pitcher Jessica Alberts.
7. LOCKPORT (29-8)
The Porters, who finished in a tie with Lincoln-Way East atop the SouthWest Suburban Blue, return three college signees in senior pitcher/outfielder Carly Dundee (Wisconsin-Parkside), senior second baseman Ashley London (Toledo) and senior first baseman Brittany Bickelman (Lindenwood). Dundee hit out of the leadoff spot at a .381 clip, and also sported power (5 HRs). London, who will be in her third season as a varsity player, hit .300. The Porters will have to replace graduated ace Taylor Weissenhofer’s 272 strikeouts.
8. RICHARDS (30-5)
SouthtownStar Player of the Year Brianna LeBeau (Northwestern) is among six seniors who graduated from last year’s 30-game winner. Senior first baseman Breanna Kaminski (.326) and junior catcher Molly Pohrebny (.409) lead the way among the experienced troops that also include senior outfielder Dana Cummings, sophomore infielder Emily Wetzel and junior outfielder Sara Tobin. Tobin will take over the mound duties along with newcomer Vic Nemec.
9. LINCOLN-WAY EAST (25-4)
Griffins coach Elizabeth Pawlicki’s first season was an excellent one. With six graduated seniors she gets to experience a rebuild. Actually, it’s not a total rebuild. Senior shortstop Jorgi Calombaris (.369) is a four-year varsity player, while senior pitcher Chrisi Mizera was 11-1 on the mound with a 2.04 ERA in ’12. Mizera’s role may expand to hitting and playing the field. A sophomore, Jenny VanGeertry hit .447 as a freshman DP.
10. OAK FOREST (25-13)
One of the top strikeout pitchers in the area is back for the Bengals in lefty Emily Larsen. The Dominican College of New York-bound senior fanned 241 batters in 165⅓ innings as a junior. Gianna Kuras is another of seven seniors that dot the roster. Sophomore third baseman Kylie Powers, meanwhile, earned all-conference honors as a freshman. The biggest hole to fill in the lineup will be the bat of catcher Emily Naegele, who is a freshman at Radford.
Tinley Park turned a major corner last year and returns several players, including Alyssa Williams and Illinois-bound Alyssa Gunther. Lincoln-Way North coach Aimee Lonigro is excited about a Phoenix team that includes Jill Galich and Sam Pietruszynski. Carly Jaworski should keep Lemont competitive in the South Suburban Conference, while Savannah Soppet, Briana Bowler and a host of other returnees should keep Beecher in the running for a ranking.