The Riverside-Brookfield High School softball team has the lineup ready to meet a big challenge.
Senior all-state pitcher and 2021 Metro Suburban Conference Player of the Year Hannah Organ leads five returning starters for the Bulldogs, who are moving up to Class 4A this season.
The Bulldogs are 2-0 so far this spring, beating Argo 15-7 and Andrew 6-3.
Last season, the Bulldogs were 22-6 and won the Metro Suburban Conference with an 11-1 record. They captured their second straight regional title before losing to St. Ignatius 2-1 in the IHSA Class 3A sectional semifinals.
“RB will be the smallest 4A team when the state tournament starts since we missed the cutoff to the 3A enrollment threshold by 1.5 students,” RBHS coach Doug Schultz said.
Organ will play at Miami University (Oxford, Ohio). Last season, she batted .474 with 23 runs batted in. As a pitcher, Organ struck out 115 of the 368 batters she faced.
In the first two victories of 2022, Organ fanned 18 of 40 hitters and batted .833 with a home run and seven RBIs.
The Bulldogs also return sophomore All-MSC catcher Zoe Levine, senior outfielder Danika Apostolovich, junior second baseball Liana Noel and sophomore shortstop Emily Organ. Apostolovich will play at Olivet Nazarene.
Other contributors include junior outfielder Luna Lloyd, sophomore utility player Kelley Tyler and freshman infielder Ellie Megall.
LTHS aims for regional title
The Lyons Township High School softball team has four fourth-year varsity seniors – Emily Joseph, Ava Paganis, Lily Hanafin and Anna Bryant. They hope to experience one of the Lions’ season goals: the program’s first regional title since 2017.
The 2021 Lions were 13-10 (7-5 in West Suburban Silver) and lost to Oak Park-River Forest 6-3 in their IHSA Class 4A regional final.
“Our experienced players and their knowledge of the game will be the key to our team’s success,” LT coach Nicole Paluch said. “We need to play a solid defense behind our pitching staff as well as push more runs across the plate.”
Joseph (3B), Hanafin (P, 1B) and junior catcher Tess Meyer were named to the 2021 All-WSC Silver Team. Paganis and Bryant received honorable mention.
Joseph had a .421 batting average and .482 on-base percentage and led the Lions in RBIs (26), hits (32), doubles (11) and runs scored (27).
Hanafin struck out 70 in 42.2 innings pitched and was a clutch hitter (.396 average, .467 on-base, 15 RBIs).
A third-year starter, Meyer (.370 average, .396 on-base) was second on the team with 27 hits and 10 doubles.
Paganis, who will play at Bryant University, hit seven home runs and hit .364 with 25 RBIs.
Other returnees are senior Sarah Karlson and sophomore Kaitlyn Filkins in the outfield and sophomore first baseman Lillian Prendergrast. Senior Analie Tumminaro and freshman Isabella Evans also will pitch.
Varsity newcomers are seniors Noli Hillmann and Careena Juarez, juniors Jay Sanchez and Makenna Kotor and sophomore and Peyton O’Flaherty. Hillmann (pitcher/first base), will play at Wisconsin Lutheran.
LTHS opened 2022 by beating Argo 16-1 on March 16.