Rick Armstrong’s top 10 softball teams and 25 players to watch in the Aurora-Elgin area for 2024 season

Despite graduation losses, reigning Class 4A state runner-up Yorkville is the team to beat. Oswego East, South Elgin and Oswego aim to challenge.

Top 10 Teams

1. Yorkville (36-3)

Ace pitcher Madi Reeves (Miami of Ohio) and shortstop Sara Ebner (Green Bay) headline heavy graduation losses for reigning Class 4A state runner-up, but Foxes will still be a target. Sophomore Kayla Kersting, an all-state catcher who hit .447 with six home runs, takes leadership role along with veteran seniors Makenzie Sweeney at second base and Jensen Krantz at first base.

2. Oswego East (24-10)

With five seniors back who are committed to play at next level, Wolves could have a special season coming off regional title. Big boppers in the lead are senior second baseman Ronnie Craft and senior outfielder Finley Anderson, who had 54 and 52 hits, respectively, in earning all-state honors. Seniors Nicole Stone and Tristin Hyland head up pitching staff.

3. South Elgin (26-6)

With eight returnees led by senior outfielder Mia Speidel (DePauw), an all-state selection, and junior pitcher Anna Kiel (Loyola), Storm should be contender for Upstate Eight Conference title and threat to make strong playoff push.

4. Oswego (23-12)

Panthers are ready to contend for first regional title since 1987. Senior outfielder Marissa Moffett (Illinois State) is headliner. Junior third baseman/pitcher Aubriella Garza (Norhern Illinois) had a program-record 52 hits last season. Junior catcher/third baseman Kiyah Chavez (Iowa) hit .375.

5. St. Charles East (17-12-1)

Saints’ streak of six straight regional titles ended, but they’ll be in the hunt again, led by a trio of all-state players in junior catcher/utility Hayden Sujack, senior pitcher Grace Hautzinger (Rollins) and senior catcher Samantha Gaca (Maryville). Sujack hit .412 with 14 homers, Hautzinger struck out 193 in 121 innings and Gaca hit .388 and threw out nine attempting to steal.

6. St. Charles North (22-8)

North Stars graduated eight key seniors but will be led by senior second baseman Maddie Hernandez (Wisconsin-Stevens Point) and junior pitcher Paige Murray, both of whom played roles for 2022 Class 4A state champs. Senior outfielder/shortstop Haley Nelson (Augustana) will contribute.

7. West Aurora (8-18)

Experienced group with nine returnees should be much improved after battling injuries. Look for another stellar season from junior shortstop Sara Tarr (Miami of Ohio), who hit .495 and earned all-state honors. Senior pitcher/outfielder Katelyn Serafin (Aurora University) is back after throwing just 18 innings due to injury last spring. Four-year varsity players include Mia Malczyk, Mackenzie Fraus, Ionicca Rivera and Vianca Juarez.

8. Aurora Central Catholic (18-11)

Best should be yet to come for team that had no seniors last season and has just two — outfielder Amelia Lohrey and second baseman Natalie Sanchez — for this year’s move to the GCAC. Junior catcher/shortstop Sophia Delgado is one of four returnees who hit over .400.

9. Newark (30-3)

Three returning seniors provide strong core from program that reached sectional final last year and took fourth in Class 1A in 2022. Pitcher/utility Kodi Rizzo (Wisconsin-Stevens Point) hit .400 and went 7-0 in the circle, while third baseman Ryan Williams (Lincoln Memorial) hit .506 and catcher/outfielder Danica Peshia (Wisconsin-Whitewater) followed at .500.

10. Metea Valley (13-18)

Senior outfielder Reese Valha and senior pitcher/infielder Genevieve Gonzales, both all-state picks, hit .431 and .379, respectively. They headline five returnees, including all-conference choices in junior pitcher Charlie Benesh, junior infielder Claire Desrosiers and senior utility Riley O’Neill.

The 25 Players to Watch

  • Finley Anderson, Oswego East, senior, infielder/outfielder;

  • McKayla Anderson, Dundee-Crown, senior, pitcher/outfielder.

  • Jaelynn Anthony, Oswego, sophomore, pitcher/infielder.

  • Kiyah Chavez, Oswego, junior, catcher/infielder.

  • Lindsey Cocks, Plano, junior, shortstop/catcher.

  • Ronnie Craft, Oswego East, senior, infielder/outfielder.

  • Sophia Delgado, Aurora Central Catholic, junior, catcher.

  • Samantha Gaca, St. Charles East, junior, catcher.

  • Aubriella Garza, Oswego, junior, infielder/pitcher.

  • Grace Hautzinger, St. Charles East, senior, pitcher.

  • Maddie Hernandez, St. Charles North, senior, infielder/utility.

  • Kayla Kersting, Yorkville, sophomore, catcher.

  • Anna Kiel, South Elgin, junior, infielder/pitcher.

  • Jensen Krantz, Yorkville, senior, first baseman.

  • Hannah Laub, Waubonsie Valley, senior, pitcher/outfielder.

  • Olivia Liguori, Bartlett, senior, catcher/infielder.

  • Danica Peshia, Newark, senior, outfielder;

  • Emily Reagan, Batavia, senior, pitcher.

  • Anna Sanders, Burlington Central, senior, infielder.

  • Katelyn Serafin, West Aurora, senior, pitcher/outfielder.

  • Mia Speidel, South Elgin, senior, outfielder.

  • Nicole Stone, Oswego East, senior, infielder.

  • Hayden Sujack, St. Charles East, sophomore, outfielder/catcher.

  • Sara Tarr, West Aurora, junior, shortstop.

  • Brynn Woods, Kaneland, sophomore, pitcher/utility.