By Marty Farmer
Riverside-Brookfield High School baseball player Mike Schicker and softball players Emily Noel and Nadia Ranieri each earned all-state honors this year. Schicker and Noel flourished as catchers, while Ranieri was a standout pitcher/outfielder. All three were juniors during the recently completed school year.
Schicker, who has committed to Purdue, made the IBCA (Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association) all-state first-team in Class 4A. Ranieri and Noel notched second-team and third-team recognition, respectively, from the ICAS (Illinois Coaches Association - Softball) in 4A as well.
"Ever since I was a kid, I have always wanted to be recognized as an all-state player," Schicker said. "I had high expectations for myself this year and I am very thankful for this honor."
Schicker hit .370 with three home runs and 30 RBIs, a .449 on-base percentage and .999 on-base plus slugging. He's also one of the premier catchers defensively in the state.
"We have been blessed and fortunate to enjoy Mike for three years and we're lucky to have him for one more season at RB," coach Dallas Till said. "Mike brings a little bit of everything to the table. His defense and ability to contain opposing base runners is as good as I have personally witnessed at the high school level. Mike is a very cognitive player both behind the plate and from an offensive standpoint. He does not have any holes in his game and is definitely one of the top catchers in the state."
Noel joins Schicker as arguably the best pair of catchers at one school in the state. The three-year varsity player hit .431 with 12 home runs and 50 RBIs during the spring.
"When I first found out that I made all-state I was extremely happy and proud of myself," Noel said. "I knew that all of the hard work I put in since I was young paid off."
She also enhanced her reputation this year as a leader with a knack for making timely plays on offense and defense. In the semifinals of the Marist Sectional, Noel blasted a home run that traveled an estimated 250 feet during the Bulldogs' 10-4 win against Shepard.
"Emily hit a bomb," RBHS coach Doug Schultz said about the prodigious postseason homer. "That was one of the hardest hit balls I've ever seen."
Ranieri, a left-hander, went 16-3 with a 2.43 ERA and 175 strikeouts in 129 innings pitched in 2019. She also hit .516 with 23 RBIs, 53 runs scored and a .613 obp as a solid left fielder for the Bulldogs. When not pitching next season, Ranieri will likely take over in center field with the graduation of Kailyn Ngo.
Schultz is delighted to have the Bulldogs' elite battery back (along with seven other key returners) from this year's squad, which finished with a 27-5 record, regional championship and sectional finals appearance.
"Having Nadia and Emily back for next year is a coach's dream," Schultz said. "Having an all-state pitcher and an all-state catcher back for their senior years means that the team can focus on the finer points of the game like defensive situations and situational batting to get better."