Senior second baseman Lianna Noel is among six returning starters and 10 returning letterwinners for the Riverside-Brookfield High School softball team.
Add three consecutive regional titles and 2022 All-Metro Suburban Conference selections Zoe Levine, Emily Organ and Ellie Megall, and the Bulldogs’ high expectations include what would be their first-ever sectional championship.
“We’ve always come close, but not quite gotten there yet. I believe that it’s possible for us to do as long as we push ourselves and help each other get better each day,” Noel said. “I think we have a lot of strengths, including leadership and motivation. Staying positive and having a good attitude under any circumstance help motivate not only yourself but others around.”
The Bulldogs finished 14-11 last season and 4-4 in the MSC. They lost to eventual state runner-up Marist 3-1 in the Class 4A Marist Sectional semifinals after beating Downers Grove South 7-1 for a regional title. There was no 2020 postseason because of COVID-19 restrictions.
“Mental toughness is going to be key,” RBHS coach Doug Schultz said. “If we can roll with the punches and handle the mistakes that happen in most games we will be a tough team to beat.”
Junior shortstop and Bradley recruit Organ, junior catcher Levine and sophomore third baseman Megall often set the offensive tone. They only struck out 21 times combined.
Levine led the Bulldogs in batting average (.468), runs batted in (36), home runs (8), doubles (12), extra-base hits (21), on-base percentage (.528) and on-base plus slugging (1.477).
Organ batted .417 with 27 RBIs and a .473 OBP and led the team with 37 runs scored and seven triples. Megall batted .368 with 20 RBIs, a .427 OBP and two homers and eight doubles.
Noel (.314, 13 RBIs, 15 runs), senior left fielder Luna Lloyd (.314, 2 HR, 15 RBIs, 19 runs) and junior center fielder Julia Madera (.317, 10 RBIs, .427 OBP) also are returning starters.
Other returning letterwinners are junior right fielder/infielder Kelley Tyler (.275, 8 RBIs), senior catcher/second baseman Paige Fudacz, senior utility player Mia Gonzalez and senior first baseman/outfielder/pitcher Ellary Hastings.
It’ll be a new pitching staff, with freshmen Trinity Stevenson and Abby Weinert, who both will also play infield. Sophomores Tali Herrera and Ella Jurgens also are varsity newcomers.