Here are the top 12 high school softball teams in the Springfield area
The high school softball season officially started on Monday.
A pair of teams reached the elite eight last season: Buffalo Tri-City/Sangamon Valley and Chatham Glenwood. Which teams are poised to make a similar postseason run this spring?
Here are several Springfield-area teams to follow in The State Journal-Register area, listed in alphabetical order:
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All but two players return for the Warriors. Junior catcher/shortstop Nivarra Oredina will provide tons of firepower at the plate, along with sophomore infielder/outfielder Carly Szoke, who was named second-team all-Sangamo. Freshman catcher/outfielder Charlie Lott is expected to give a big boost this season.
Buffalo Tri-City/Sangamon Valley
The Tornadoes will certainly wreak all kinds of havoc. They reached the Class 2A supersectionals before running up against eventual state champion Taylor Ridge Rockrdige to bow out 29-3 overall. Winners of 107 straight MSM Conference games, at least three players in the lineup will play collegiately starting with senior pitcher Daleny Chumbley. She announced in November that she will play at Eastern Illinois, while fellow pitcher/outfielder Jordan Closs will head to NAIA St. Francis in Illinois. Senior infielder Grace Blair is another potent hitter who plans to attend University of Illinois Springfield.
Kaitlyn Dodson takes the helm for the Tigers. She has several returning starters from last year’s team, which went 11-4. Dodson said shortstop Hayley Sloan brings valuable experience and a decent stick, along with catcher/outfielder Kourtney Logsdon, pitcher/utility player Marlee Hager, pitcher/infielder Marlee Brown and slap hitter Emma Hymes.
The Titans raced to the Class 3A supersectionals before falling to eventual state champion Highland. Several key starters graduated but senior pitcher/infielder Tatum Trotter (.417 BA and 1.95 ERA) is back. Another perennial Central State Eight Conference contender, Rochester, fell to the Titans in the sectional final. Senior infielder Addison Cline (.420 BA) and senior catcher Alison Sadler (.333 BA) will lead the Rockets.
The Miners finished unbeaten in the South Central Conference last season. Junior infielder Regan Bussmann is one of the key returning starters. She accrued 41 hits with 15 RBIs and a .406 batting average. Others include senior Chloe Segarra and junior Megan Rife. After reaching the Class 2A sectional semifinals, coach Michelle Smith said they will look to repeat as conference and regional champions.
Everyone is back for the Ducks, according to coach Rusty Sarnes. Junior pitcher/shortstop Taryn Wickman leads the way offensively and defensively and was named unanimous all-Western Illinois Valley Conference first team last season. She struck out 82 batters with a 7-6 record and hit .426 with a team-leading 24 RBIs. The Ducks, who climbed to 11-11 despite seven underclassmen in the starting lineup, have a slew of hitters such as sophomore leadoff batter Lauren Herbst (.466), sophomore Abby Cowell (.415), sophomore Jaylynn Sarnes (.377) and senior Chloe Turner (.381).
Coach Tim Roberts returns everyone to the lineup after going 6-11 last season. Senior shortstop Katie Long (.316 BA, 567. OBP, 3 HR), senior outfielder Kenna Bixby (.333 BA, .407 OBP) and junior catcher Mae Bandelow (.333 BA) provide a solid core out of the veteran group.
New coach Marshall Pressler said the sky is the limit for the Panthers after going 14-9 and making the regional final against Sacred Heart-Griffin. All-Sangamo Conference first teamer Kayla Gillespie headlines the group offensively and defensively. Junior Josie Patterson further strengthens the pitching staff and threw a perfect game with 18 Ks against Riverton in May. Sophomore catcher Abby Hendricks also burst onto the scene with a .463 batting average.
The Panthers finished 10-13 last spring and returns seven starters. That includes senior starting pitchers Kiley Ladage and Kylie Hendrickson, who had five wins apiece last year. Ladage also had a .341 batting average. Pana coach Marty Cloe expects to tally more than 20 wins this season with a notable incoming freshman class to boot.
Bluejays coach Andrew Biermann hopes his young group will mesh by the time conference play rolls around in the Sangamo after going 13-5 overall last season. Senior Amber Teimeyer will provide a solid foundation. She had a .431 batting average and will be the top pitching arm alongside sophomore newcomer Gabbie Branson. Junior Erin Wallace (.386) will bolster the offense.
A player like Elliott Stinson can launch the Rockets far into the postseason. The Southern Illinois commit hit .576 while dishing out 127 strikeouts with a 1.46 ERA. Addie Greene (2.33 ERA) will complement the rotation. Three-year starter Charlie Weishaar (.381 batting average) provides another prolific swing.
What isn’t there to like about the Cyclones? They reached the Class 2A sectional finals last season and return a bulk of that production. That includes The State Journal-Register's Large School Softball Player of the Year and senior ace Rosie Bartletti. Bartletti, Gretchen Trello, Ellie Rockford and Carley Hacke each hit over. 400 last spring and will be poised for another deep run in 2A this season.
Contact Bill Welt: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter.com/BillWelt