PALATINE, Ill. – This year's Harper softball team appears ready to take the next step under the direction of second-year head coach Cray Allen. Allen's squad returns four skilled players from last year's team and welcomes in seven new players ready to make an impact.
While weather has been a major issue in getting the season started so far, the Hawks finally got their season started yesterday at Volunteer State Community College. Harper lost the opener, 12-4, but they take on Volunteer State two more times today before returning for their conference opener at Joliet tomorrow.
Last year's team posted a 4-20 record, but Allen is confident this group of players is prepared to get the job done.
"We have some dedicated kids with high softball IQ that are willing to take the program to the next level," Allen said.
Assistant coach Lynsey Ciezki echoed Allen's view on the team.
"We have some star pitchers and a good balance of speed, power and athletic ability," she said. "I'm excited to watch all our hard work pay off."
Here is a look at the returning players as well as newcomers:
Utility player and pitcher Jazlynn Skor (Barrington, Ill./Barrington) is the team's top returner. In 2013, Skor led the team in hitting with a .328 average and also led the Hawks in hits (21), triples (4), runs (12), and OPS (.850). Catcher/third baseman Alexis Filler (Hanover Park, Ill./Hoffman Estates) is back for her sophomore campaign. In 2013, she served as the team's primary catcher and also earned N4C Academic All-Conference accolades.
Third baseman Kaitlyn Keegan (Elk Grove Village, Ill./Elk Grove) and utility player Jessica DuBrock (Rosemont, Ill./East Leyden) are also back for their second years. Keegan finished the season strong last year, and DuBrock served as the team's second base last year while earning N4C Academic All-Conference honors.
"We have a very dedicated group of new players, and our coaching staff did an awesome job of recruiting them," DuBrock said. "I think working as a team is one of our main goals."
Sophomore Tori Liewergen (Elk Grove Village, Ill./Elk Grove), a transfer from Lake Forest College and former standout player for Elk Grove High School, will serve as the team's primary pitcher. Former Lake Park High School two-time All-Conference player Sam Cummings (Roselle, Ill./Lake Park) will be the team's primary first baseman and assume some catching duties.
High school teammates Beth Petrunich (McHenry, Ill./McHenry East) and Lindsay Cannon (McHenry, Ill./McHenry West) will play vital roles for the Haws as well. Petrunich can play second base or shortstop and was on a McHenry team that won back-to-back regional championships in 2012 and 2013. Cannon was a part of those same teams and will play outfield for Harper.
East Leyden grad Anna Kawka (Franklin Park, Ill./East Leyden) will also play outfield for the Hawks along with Huntley grad Ashley Alicea (Lake in the Hills, Ill./Huntley). Barrington High School grad Raegan Fingerman (Fox River Grove, Ill./Barrington) will play first base and catcher.
The Hawks are scheduled to play 20 conference games and were scheduled to open N4C play on March 25 at Madison, but inclement weather forced the cancellation of those games. Those will be made up on Saturday, April 5. Harper was supposed to play DuPage yesterday (March 27), but poor field conditions forced the cancellation of those games. The tentative conference opener is now scheduled for Tuesday, April 1 at Joliet.
Rock Valley won the conference in 2013, finishing 17-3 in conference play. DuPage finished runner-up with a 16-4 mark.
The Region IV Play-In Game (5 vs.4) will be played on April 29, followed by the Region IV Tournament May 2 and 3. If the Hawks were to win the region championship, they would head to Rochester, Minn. for the 2014 NJCAA Div. III Softball National Championship May 15-17.
Resources for the Season