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After supersectional playoff run, Downers South softball eyes more success next season

Mustangs lose just 4 seniors from sectional title team

DOWNERS GROVE – Downers Grove South’s softball team got a little greedy at the end of the season.

The Mustangs started the season with a 4-5 record, but with a trip to the state semifinals on the line June 3 in a supersectional game against St. Charles East, they hoped for one more dramatic playoff win.

After battling back from deficits to top-seed Naperville Central for the regional title and Downers Grove North for the sectional title, South’s comeback bid against the Saints came up just short, and the season came to an end.

“It was a good run,” South coach Ron Havelka said of the playoffs. “You always want more. You get a little greedy and hope you can get one more game in, but it just wasn’t to be.”

If there was a silver lining to the season ending-loss for South (22-11-1), it was that another long playoff run isn’t out of the question next season. The Mustangs lose just four seniors, two of which were regular starters. All five players named West Suburban Gold all-conference – Jess Andree, Kristen Bialek, Caitlyn Daly, Caroline Hedgcock and Melissa Orton – are slated to return. Bialek and Hedgcock were freshmen this season.

“We’re a young team, very young, and that’s very good for the future,” Havelka said. “We have a lot of good things to look forward to.”

The extra games from the long playoff run helped Hedgcock develop as a pitcher, while Andree learned another valuable lesson.

“I learned how to work the batters,” Hedgcock said. “My changeup started looking good, too, and I just became a smarter pitcher.”

“Never underestimate your opponent. I think a lot of people did that to us, and I think that was a huge advantage for us,” Andree said. “We came in as the underdogs. Next year, it’s not going to be that way and we know that.”

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