CAROL STREAM — What appeared to be a dream season for Glenbard North softball last spring was rudely awakened by a single run in a sectional final.
Now with six starters returning from a 34-win team, the Panthers hope to be in a similar position this year, albeit with a different result.
"We lost five seniors last year but we return so much," said Glenbard North coach Josh Sanew. "I think we should be solid offensively and I believe we will be excellent defensively. We should be a very tough team to beat."
To make another run, both within the DuPage Valley Conference and during the state series, the squad must first replace the production of Lily Fecho, who is now pitching for Purdue.
Last spring, the left-hander compiled a record of 27-3 with a 0.88 ERA while also hitting .393 with 33 RBIs.
Expected to step in is Lafayette College-recruit Lindsey Cherry, who has proved to be more than capable in the pitching circle. A year ago, she posted a sparkling 0.91 ERA, striking out 56 batters in 54 innings while going 7-0.
Junior Cece Dopart could also impress in the pitching rotation. Combined, the two will be pitching in front of an infield — third baseman Stephanie Campos, shortstop Sydney Benz, second baseman Alex Caliva and first baseman Heather Sperlazzo — that played together last year.
"We return senior Lindsey on the mound," the coach said, "who has been very successful when given the opportunity to pitch over her years playing varsity. Our infield has to be one of the better infields in the state and they played together last year. And we have a junior back-up pitcher that can really fire the ball so we our two deep on the mound."
Offensively, Glenbard North has the potential to be dangerous despite losing Fecho and leadoff hitter Bri Harn. Caliva, who is headed to Illinois State University, batted .356 a year ago with 11 doubles while Louisville-recruit Benz hit .274 with four homers and 30 RBIs.
Campos (Bradley) checked in with a .344 average and 23 RBIs, Sperlazzo (Grand Valley State) batted .280 with three homers and outfielder/catcher Ashley Stiver (Augustana) totaled 17 RBIs in 2012.
Sarah Petzold, who hit .356 in 45 at-bats as a freshman, should also become a full-time starter.
A major goal for the Panthers is to defend their DVC crown, which they captured after going 12-2 in the league. Naperville Central should again provide stiff competition.
Meet the Panthers
Coach: Josh Sanew
2012 record: 34-3
Lindsey Cherry sr. P
Sydney Benz jr. SS
Alex Caliva jr. 2B
Stephanie Campos so. 3B
Heather Sperlazzo jr. 1B
Ashley Stiver sr. OF/C
Next game: 11 a.m. Saturday vs. Lake Park
Perfect record last season for Lindsey Cherry, who was Glenbard North's No. 2 pitcher behind Lily Fecho