[Matthew Apgar / Daily Chronicle]
Coach: Mike Lauer (20th year, 335-204)
Last year: 24-12, lost to Belvidere, 5-2, in the semifinals of the Class 3A Belvidere Regional
Keep an eye on: Madison Wagner had a breakout year for the Cogs, hitting .456 with 38 RBIs and 30 runs scored a year and is back to anchor third base.
Also: Cassie Bade, sr., OF; Leah Fowler, sr., C; Ashley Peterson, jr., LF; Leea Perry, jr., 2B/SS; Ashley Clemente, jr., 2B/SS/OF/P; Olivia Simmons, soph., P/2B
Lauer’s comments: “I feel like we’re in a good position. There’s a lot of kids returning, and they’re all asking to start the season. They know what we’re looking for. The cohesiveness is good. It’s early, but we’re very team-oriented.”
The lowdown: Peterson also had a huge year for Genoa-Kingston, hitting .481 on the year as she and Wagner earned first-team spots on the Daily Chronicle all-area team. Simmons split the pitching duties last year but will take over more time in the circle, and Clemente should see more time pitching as well.
Indian Creek Timberwolves
Coach: Jeremy Lowe, first season
Last year: 14-12, lost to Marquette, 3-0, in the semifinals of the Class 1A Somonauk Sectional
Keep an eye on: Jesika Lowe and Hailey Herrmann provided some pop for the Timberwolves last year, hitting all five of the team’s homers, with Herrmann belting four of them. Lowe said he expects even more power from the two of them this year.
Also: Autumn Johanningsmeier, jr., C; Jade Milostan, jr., P; Chloe Stambaugh, jr., SS
Lowe’s comments: “We’re shooting for that again this year, and we’d like to go beyond sectionals. I thought last year we’d take regionals, and this year, taking sectionals is a goal we are definitely shooting for.
The lowdown: A lot of the team’s success this year will come down to health. Lowe said there’s 10 players on the team this year and only one senior. Haley Petragallo, who hit .467 and played for the soccer team as well last year, will play soccer full-time this season. But Lowe said he’s excited about Milostan and Lowe on the mound and thinks the team can at least duplicate its sectional run of a year ago.
Coach: Michael Bottom (Second season, 3-18)
Last year: 3-18, lost 11-10, to Woodlands Academy in the first round of the Class 1A Durand Regional
Keep an eye on: Freshman Brooke Brayden will come in and split time in the circle for the Hawks. Bottom said Brayden has experience on a travel team and works with pitching coaches in the offseason.
Also: Gianna Bottom, soph., C; McKenzie Hampton, jr., IF; Laney Melendez, soph., P
Bottom’s comments: “We have a very young team this year. Half freshmen, half sophomores – and one junior.”
The lowdown: For a team this size, Bottom has a lot of benefits other teams don’t. For starters, there’s five players on the roster who play travel ball, when a lot of other Little 10 schools don’t have any. There’s also the fact that he feels he has two strong pitchers in Melendez and Brayden.
Hinckley-Big Rock Royals
Coach: Kristy Harrod
Last year: 0-20, lost 15-0, to Indian Creek in the first round of the Class 1A Indian Creek Regional
Keep an eye on: Like last year, Tomi Harrod and Allison Ryan will do a majority of the pitching and catching, splitting time between the two positions.
Also: Abby Kuppler, soph.; Lindsay Nelson, jr., Anais Lawler, jr.; Sophie Albright, sr.; Alyssa Ekstrom, jr.
Harrod’s comments: “We got some pretty good numbers, and the girls are excited to play. Last year’s rookies are really stepping up this year.”
The lowdown: It’s been a process for the 7-year-old program, of which Kristy Harrod has been a part of from the start, as either the head coach or an assistant. Harrod said she’s not sure of positions yet for all the players. She said it’s challenge because not only do most of the players not have travel ball experience, they don’t have rec league experience either. She said the only travel ball player in the history of the program is Tomi Harrod.