Coach: Richie Costante2012 record: 22-15Top players:
Alex Dewey sr. CF
Shaylee Lewis sr. 3B
Sara Ross jr. 1B
Lauren Trojnar so. P/2B
First game: 4:30 p.m. Monday at downstate MortonWhat to watch: After a quick glance at Montini's roster, it would be easy to think the Broncos are in for a rebuilding year. They have as many freshmen (five) as they do seniors and juniors combined.
However, they return eight starters and the freshmen on the roster are not there to simply fill spots.
"All of them will be competing for a starting spot," said coach Richie Costante. "We have that much experience returning and that much talent coming in. It makes practices fun."
Sophomore pitcher Lauren Trojnar was the team's MVP last season as well as earning all-conference and all-state honors. She batted .398 and stole a school-record 36 bases.
"She did everything in the offseason to get ready and she's looking stronger than ever," Costante said. "She's throwing the ball faster than ever."
Shaylee Lewis and Sara Ross also picked up all-state honors last season. Lewis and fellow senior Alex Dewey will be four-year starters.
Among the freshmen, first baseman Emily Lezcano and catcher Alyssa Sclafani should see the most time. Costante wasn't shy about Sclafani's potential.
"My guess is by the time she graduates she'll hold every one of our offensive records," the coach said.
The added talent has raised expectations in the program that once was satisfied to occasionally win conference and regional titles.
"Now we're not just settling for that," Costante said. "Winning conference needs to be mandated and we are looking to make a deep run in the playoffs."
Coach: Rachel Karos2012 record: 20-16 (7-5 West Suburban Gold)Top players:
Darian Pelsor sr. P
Alyssa Ressinger so. IF
Sam Schmidt so. SS
Erin Sporer so. C
First game: 11 a.m. Monday at West ChicagoWhat to watch: The Warriors lost just three starters from last year's 20-win team and will be hoping to maintain its momentum.
All four all-conference picks from last year — pitcher Darian Pelsor and sophomore hitters Sam Schmidt, Erin Sporer and Alyssa Ressinger — return. Pelsor will once again carry the load on the mound.
The sophomore trio of Schmidt, Sporer and Ressinger will be hoping to improve on impressive varsity debuts to make the Warriors contenders in the West Suburban Gold and the postseason.
Coach: Frank Reaber2012 record: 27-8 (15-1 Suburban Christian Gold)Top players:
Jessica Conenna so. P
Gabriella Curran so. SS/2B
Anjella Farmer fr. 1B/SS
Maria Kieliszewski sr. 3B/C
Next game: Noon Saturday at TrinityWhat to watch: After dominating the Suburban Christian Gold last year, the Knights have moved up to the Blue this season.
IC went 5-1 against Blue teams last spring, but feature a much younger squad now. The Knights have just three seniors, but coach Frank Reaber still has high expectations for the season.
"I think we'll be pretty good in 2A," Reaber said. "We'll have to go through Lisle and Lemont (Mt. Assisi), but I think we can do well."
Sophomore pitcher Jessica Conenna was an all-conference pick last year and returns as the top pitcher. Freshman Catherine Klosterman will also pitch.
Top power hitter Maria Kieliszewski and leadoff hitter Gabriella Curran will lead the offense.
The Knights actually got to play last weekend in Jacksonville, Ill., and went 2-1 with wins over Ottawa Marquette (2-1) and Princeville (4-0) before losing to Seneca 9-7 in eight innings.
Coach: Aaron MooreTop players:
Emily Becker so. IF/OF
Maty Huisman so. IF/OF
Brittany Scheidt sr. IF
Marisa Voss sr. P
What to watch: First-year coach Aaron Moore takes over a program trying to get back on track.
Pitcher Marisa Voss heads up a core of returners which should ease the transition. Voss has multiple years of varsity experience to her name and has been a prolific strikeout pitcher for the Trojans. Emily Becker, Maty Huisman and basketball standout Brittany Scheidt are also back as returning starters.
The Trojans, which have bowed out in a regional semifinal the past two years, will be looking to get back to the form that won them four regionals in five years from 2006-2010.