Fifteen games into 2019, and Monique Hoosen was only getting a hit one out of every three at-bats.

Luckily for the East Peoria junior, her .333 batting average only got better over the course of the next 17 games. Hoosen raised her batting average 78 points and finished her season hitting .411.

Transitioning from a fall and winter of playing for the Peoria Sluggers Gold into playing with East Peoria came with some adjustments.

“School ball is a little different than travel ball,” said the 2019 Journal Star Softball Player of the Year, who added eight doubles, three triples, 13 home runs, 41 RBIs, while drawing 20 walks — five intentional. “It just has a different atmosphere. I kind of think it’s a little bit of everything.

“(Players) know more for high school ball. It’s a little bit less intense, but then it still kind of is.”

Hoosen joins Morton's Ashley Fauser (1994-95) as the only back-to-back winners in the award's 28-year history. The smooth-swinging right-hander helped lead East Peoria to a 25-win season and an undefeated run through the Mid-Illini Conference.

Not only did Hoosen, who has verbally committed to play at Butler University, raise her average, but she flexed her powerful bat. In those final 17 games, the center fielder smacked seven home runs and drove in 23 runs. She now holds the East Peoria career home run mark with 37.

A change to her approach at the plate is a big credit to the power surge.

“I had to accept the walks,” Hoosen said, “and I had to be more disciplined knowing where the pitch was placed and hitting it where it’s pitched. … Staying patient at the plate is kind of really difficult. I get really anxious at the plate.

“I have to continuously work on it, but I’m getting there.”

Working hard doesn’t seem to be a problem for Hoosen. She’s constantly lauded for putting countless hours into her craft, practicing at the wee hours of the morning and late into the night, while never wavering from a team-first attitude.

“She never takes a day off — no matter what,” East Peoria coach Denee Menzione said in April. “Every practice she goes 100 percent. She doesn’t know anything different.

“That’s what made her so elite.”

Pitching is one aspect of Hoosen’s game that is a work in progress. She appeared in four games, throwing eight innings with seven strikeouts, five walks and one earned run for an ERA of 0.88.

Her lone win of the season came against Farmington with other appearances against Streator and Pekin, utilizing a fastball, changeup as well as one pitch Hoosen says she "kind of hopes for a drop ball to work."

“(Pitching) was definitely something different,” said Hoosen, who noted pitching as a younger player before moving to the outfield.

“Pitching was kind of tough come back to at first, but once I started pitching with the other pitchers on our team … it was kind of fun.”

Enjoyment for Hoosen has also come from winning this season. The Raiders finished 14-0 in the M-I, marking the first time in four seasons EP went undefeated in league play.

But East Peoria fell way short of returning to the state finals — and its home field — with a 7-3 loss to Limestone in the regional semifinals.

“We all took that loss hard,” Hoosen said. “We all definitely wanted to go farther in the season, but now we know what we need to work for in the offseason.

“I love would to end my senior year on my home field (at the state finals). I love that field.”

Adam Duvall can be reached at 686-3214 or Follow him on Twitter @AdamDuvall.