Senior shortstop Anyssa Iliopoulos has high personal and team goals for another season that should continue Trinity’s great softball tradition.
“Abby (Ramirez) won the Gatorade Player of the Year award (as a senior in 2013),” said Iliopoulos, who will play at Rutgers.
“We have that banner hanging in the school and I see it every day. It would be something nice for me to achieve as well. It’s something to think about along the way.”
Led by several seniors, the Blazers are extremely optimistic after graduating just one starter from their 22-10-1 team that lost five games by one run, including 2-1 to senior-led York in the Class 4A Niles West Sectional semifinals.
Trinity has captured an impressive 11 straight regional titles. However, getting downstate for the first time since being the 2010 3A state runner-up probably means defeating Oak Park and River Forest, which returns several standouts from its third-place 4A state finisher.
“We’re in a tough area,” Trinity coach Bob Osborne said. “We actually should be better and hungrier than last year. When I watched Oak Park at the beginning of last year, it was one team, one goal. That’s hard to do. Our goal is to be the same way.”
Iliopoulos, senior center fielder/leadoff hitter Alex Koziol and junior second baseman/pitcher Brynisha Campbell earned 2015 All-Girls Catholic Athletic Conference honors.
Iliopoulos led the 2015 Blazers in batting average (.568), runs batted in (50) and extra-base hits (28) with eight home runs after 13 as a sophomore. She is among Trinity’s top five in basically every offensive category. Most records are held by Ramirez, now starring at Michigan.
“Anyssa is one of the best players in the state,” Osborne said.
Koziol, whom Osborne called “probably one of the fastest kids in the state,” hit .481 with 14 RBIs and team bests of 46 runs and 29 stolen bases. Campbell hit .420 with a team-high 10 home runs and 47 RBIs, improving from three homers in 2014.
Senior pitcher Cortlyn Kelly returns with her wicked changeup. She was 13-6 with a 2.66 earned-run average and 99 strikeouts in 121 2/3 innings after missing the first three weeks recovering from a concussion. Senior Kassie Guerrero was 7-3 with 46 strikeouts in 65 2/3 innings and Campbell will return to pitching.
Also back are senior third baseman Gabi Fitzpatrick (.300, 3 RBIs), sophomore right fielder Gabby Buikema (.303, 2 HR, 14 RBIs), senior outfielder Aaliyah Gonzalez (.312, 2 RBIs, 40 runs) and sophomore infielders Ileana Fierro (.405, 3 HR, 13 RBIs) and Jules Morini (.384, 1 HR, 14 RBIs).
Senior catcher Karah Ritacco replaces graduated All-GCAC selection Carrie Reilly, now at West Point. Ritacco sat out the 2015 season upon transferring from Nazareth Academy, where she was a two-time all-conference player.
“All of our seniors have a role, even if by example, in the dugout,” Osborne said. “If every senior leads, we’re going to be in good shape.”
This year’s schedule includes three of the top four 4A finishers from 2015 – OPRF April 11, second-place Lincoln-Way East March 29 and defending champion Marist April 19. The Blazers play an April 9 doubleheader against Fenwick, a GCAC newcomer.
Iliopoulos again will chase the documented IHSA single-season record of 24 homers. She also wants to hit .600 and commit no more than five errors.
“We had a pretty good run last year and we’re just excited to get back into it,” Iliopoulos said. “(Our schedule is) pretty tough but I think we’re all ready for the challenge and ready to play whoever we need to.”