Softball season winds down in Woodstock
As the school year came to an end in Woodstock, both Woodstock School District 200 high school girls softball teams concluded their seasons in the IHSA Class 3A Johnsburg regional tournament.
Woodstock High School lost 10-3 to Richmond-Burton May 22 to finish the season with a record of 7-24 (2-10 Fox Valley Conference-Fox Division).
Woodstock North fell 4-3 to Johnsburg High School May 23 in the regional semifinal. The Thunder finished with a record of 10-23 (3-10 FVC-Fox).
Looking back on the season, WHS head coach Steve Beard said he was impressed with his team’s defense.
“They executed their fielding and throwing,” Beard said. “Our strength was our defense. Our infielders were the best we had in years. Overall, it was much better than years past. We didn’t have as much offense as I thought we would.”
Beard said he was happy with how his team leaders stepped up this season.
“Katelyn Johnson, Christine Orndahl and Kara McCaughrean showed great leadership skills throughout the season,” Beard said.
Beard also praised seniors Jenny Baier and Katie Voyles and noted the players “were a really good group to work with.”
Beard said he thinks the key to any team’s success is pitching and catching, and he believes his team has a bright future at those positions.
“Softball is a game that your strong teams have strong pitching and catching,” Beard said. “Rachel Lohmeyer, Jorie Karafa and Jessie Karafa will all be returning next year as pitchers. [Samantha] Baker [a sophomore] caught every inning for us this year.”
Last year, the Streaks had only two softball teams – varsity and junior varsity. This year, the number of players trying out allowed for a freshman team.
“I’m really proud we were able to have three teams this year,” Beard said. “I think they really improved from February until the end of the season. … I think it was really awesome to have 33 girls committed to softball. I think our coaches did a great job developing skills this season.”
Woodstock North had an up-and-down season according to head coach Kristin Holzbauer, but counting wins and losses was not her ultimate objective.
“This year, we had moments of absolute greatness,” Holzbauer said. “We beat some really good teams, but we lost some games we should have won. … For me, a successful season is not about wins and losses. It’s about watching the players grow and helping them develop a passion for the sport, showing them how to be good teammates and good people. In the end, it’s not the wins and losses, but the relationships you develop.”
At the team’s awards banquet May 25, junior Bria Romine was named Most Valuable Player and senior Kendyl Schwebke received the Thunder Pride Award, given to the player who shows extreme passion and dedication for the sport.
Holzbauer praised her seniors Chelsea Watkins, Heather Sitkie and Schwebke.
“Character and passion are two words I would use to describe them,” Holzbauer said. “It’s amazing, but it’s sad. I wish I could keep them forever.”
The Thunder are anticipating returning eight starters next year, including the outfield of sophomore Rachel Vela, junior Josie Lindsay-Robbins and junior Amelia Orosco; shortstop Romine, sophomore catcher Sierra Meiners and junior third baseman Paige Busch, who all batted over .400 this year; along with juniors Kaitlin Chamberlain and Marissa Thompson. Junior pitcher Rebecca Einspahr also is expected to return.
With the amount of talent returning, Holzbauer and assistant coach Paul Sandall see a bright future.
“I’m optimistic and so is Paul,” Holzbauer said. “We return so many talented players. We have a beautiful field, great [athletic director], good coaching staff and fantastic parents.”