The Moraine Valley Community College softball team has lofty goals in 2023 – earning a third consecutive Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference championship and going deeper in the playoffs. And they have the means to do it.

From last year’s award-winning squad, seven sophomores moved on. The Cyclones still have six returners, however, and plenty of incoming talent to put them in contention again.

“Everything is so new, and we’re seeing what we need to work on. But they have been working hard, and we’ve seen improvements. We’re feeling solid. I think we’ll be contenders again for conference,” said third-year Head Coach Ari Bulthuis, who has earned two consecutive Skyway Conference Coach of the Year awards.

Alexandria Palumbo (Richards) is a third-year player, who was the starting catcher last season. She’ll be in the outfield and has turned into the team leader. “She’s a true leader, and the players look up to her,” Bulthuis said.

Emily Madrigal (Shepard) did a little pitching when necessary last season and might be called on again. “She’s willing to do what needs to be done for the team and is a huge spot in the batting lineup, too,” Bulthuis noted.

Other sophomores stepping up this year to lead the freshmen include Arianna Andersen (Oak Lawn), Emily Manso (Evergreen Park) and Nicole Wagner (Marist). All three have taken their game, and leadership, to the next level.

The Cyclones have two true pitchers on the team – incoming freshmen Ruby Amigon (Oak Lawn) and Cassidy Ostema (Sandburg) – both of whom have put in the work and took to the coaching to get ready for college ball. Ostema is an all-around player who brings energy to the field while Amigon should be a threat from the mound.

Maggie and Riley Evoy (Shepard) are triplets with Maggie bringing skills at shortstop and Riley generating hitting power for the team. Mya Granadas (Evergreen Park), an infielder and catcher, has a solid glove that is a magnet to the ball. She also has a fluid swing and strong fundamentals of the game.

With all the pieces in place and players working hard, the Cyclones are ready to set off on another successful softball season.

“I want that three-peat in conference. That’d be nice to keep it going and stay on top. That’s what our sophomores want,” Bulthuis said. “I want to make it to the regional tournament, too. We haven’t been there in a few years. I’m not going to shoot for the moon, but I want to make it there. The players will work hard to get it, and we can do it.”

Bulthuis is joined in the dugout again by assistants Jen Vanek and Sam Owens. The team heads to South Carolina for a spring training tournament the week of March 13 before getting into the crux of their season. Their home opener is March 29, 3 p.m., against South Suburban College.

“It’s going to be a good year,” Bulthuis said. “I’m excited and ready to start.”

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For news media inquiries, contact Maura Vizza, Moraine Valley communications specialist and sports information coordinator, at (708) 974-5742 or