Even with the odds stacked against them and faced with a number of challenges, the Cyclone softball team never quit and accomplished a few feats along the way.
Despite the wintry weather, injuries and short staffing early in the season, the Cyclones pushed through. Early in the season, the roster was down to nine. Then a few players suffered injuries leading to altered positions on the field. Even while hurt, sophomore Savanah Julian (Richards) never missed a game but instead hobbled through and played all but two positions. It didn’t help that a number of games in April were played in 20-degree weather.
“Given all those challenges, we fared well and finished second in conference, which is amazing. We didn’t do nearly as well as we wanted, but we didn’t have the team we expected either,” said head Coach Scott Sobol, who completed his first season leading the squad.
In a highly competitive region, the Cyclones tied for second in the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference (8-4) but tallied an overall 10-23. Errors and spotty hitting got the better of the Cyclones at times; however, several players thrived.
Amanda Richter (Evergreen Park) was the team’s top hitter, averaging .443 with a .506 on-base percentage (OBP) and 1.151 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS). She had 10 RBIs, 11 doubles and one homerun. Gabrielle Brent (Oak Forest) was a shot in the arm when she rejoined the team after the Cyclone basketball season. She averaged .367 with a .387 OBP and .998 OPS, putting up some power numbers (19 RBIs, three triples, seven doubles, 12 stolen bases). Argo grad Samantha Stahl (.359 ave., 16 RBIs, two homeruns) and Oak Forest alum Fiona Sheridan (.326 ave., 11 RBIs, two triples, 30 stolen bases) rounded out the top hitters on the team. All four were named to the All-Conference team.
Rachel Martin (Eisenhower) made big strides at the plate with hard work off the field, becoming a key offense producer in the last 12 games. Kirsten Chase (Eisenhower) was the top outfielder and another offensive push late in the season. Jeanna Kuligoski (Sandburg) was a late addition to the roster. She made some big plays with her quick hands at third and was consistent at the plate tallying 10 runs. Fiona Haran (Marist) gave her all, getting the Cyclones on the board with a triple in the last game of the season. Natalie Mazzone (Luther North) was the third pitcher and stepped up when Megan Pyles (Evergreen Park) was injured at the onset of the season. Mazzone held down some good-hitting teams when needed. After she bounced back from the DL, Pyles really found her pitching rhythm. Julian battled injury all season, but played wherever she was needed and maintained a positive attitude. This truly was a team effort.
“This group worked hard. They didn’t quit. We had low points, but the future looks good,” Sobol said. “We have a tremendous recruiting class, a good group coming in next season. Now I know the lay of the land, and I think we’ll be competitive next year. I’m excited.”