GLEN ELLYN – Julie Fonda has been around a fair share of softball players, during her playing career and in her current position as the Glenbard South head coach.
So when Fonda says she hasn’t encountered many like Raiders senior Jane Trzaska, you take that as high praise.
“She is a top-notch kid and a class act,” Fonda said. “She is a kid that will be missed more for her smile and her character than her stats. And that is a big statement because her stats are tremendous.”
The four-year varsity performer hit .500 with seven home runs and 43 RBIs this spring and, in the final at-bat of her prep career, Trzaska blasted a triple to drive in the winning run in the state championship game.
Trzaska’s contributions extended far beyond the batter’s box. After not seeing much time in the pitching circle the last few years, she split duties this spring with Steph Chitkowski and spent the rest of the innings behind the plate.
In previous years with the Raiders, she also saw time in the outfield and at first base.
“It doesn’t matter to me,” she said. “I just love being out there. If I’m pitching, that’s my favorite. If I’m playing left field, that’s my favorite.”
Her coach said Trzaska’s greatest transformation was in her knowledge of the game.
“She always knew the game but now she is thinking it,” Fonda said. “She is always thinking one step ahead, kind of like a coach.”
Trzaska, who also excelled at volleyball for the Raiders, became familiar with the Glenbard South softball program years before coming to the school. With older sister (by five years), Jill, on the team, she came to every game with her mom.
“I was the ball shagger for home games,” she said. “Every foul ball I would run after it. The coaches used to have jelly beans and they would give me one when I brought a ball back. It was fun. And I knew what to expect [once I got to high school].”
Having an older sister playing the sport was a major reason why Trzaska got started with softball at the age of 3.
“I kind of followed her around,” the recent graduate said. “When she went for pitching lessons, I went with. I played catch with her or I’d catch her when she was warming up. That’s how I got started with catching.
“She was a really great role model for me. She is very composed as a player and she always wants what is best for everybody else. I’m happy she is my sister.”
The next step in Trzaska’s softball journey will take her to Armstrong Atlantic State University in Georgia. The Pirates, who made contact with Trzaska at a showcase, advanced to the NCAA Division II semifinals this spring.
“The softball program is really, really good,” said Trzaska, who is considering a physical education major with a minor in athletic training. “The campus isn’t too big and it has 7,000 to 8,000 kids so the classes are small and that is what I was looking for. And the weather is definitely a bonus.”
Here is the 2013 All Area Softball West Team:
Sydney BenzSchool: Glenbard NorthYear: Junior Entrenched in the No. 3 spot of the batting order, this Louisville recruit had another strong campaign for the Panthers. Batting .459 on the spring, Benz finished with nine doubles, three triples and three home runs while totaling 29 RBIs and a team-high 39 runs scored. The shortstop also struck out just five times in 111 at-bats.
Ashton CattenheadSchool: Glenbard SouthYear: Junior Bursting onto the scene this spring, Cattenhead's production helped make up for the graduation of seven starters from the 2012 team. Batting fourth in the order, the left fielder hit .457 with eight doubles, two triples and four home runs. She also added 32 runs scored and 40 RBIs.
Lindsey CherrySchool: Glenbard NorthYear: Senior Moved into the role of staff ace after the graduation of Lilly Fecho, this senior made the most of her opportunity. Cherry posted an 18-5 record with with a 1.70 ERA in 152-1/3 innings pitched, allowing just 92 hits while striking out 152.
Steph ChitkowskiSchool: Glenbard SouthYear: Senior Part of a potent one-two pitching duo a year ago with older sister Dani, this senior has teamed with Jane Trzaska this spring to shut down the opposition. Appearing in 23 contests, Chitkowski produced a 17-2 record with a 1.17 ERA in 119-1/3 innings pitched. She yielded just 59 hits while striking out 203.
Alyssa FernandezSchool: St. FrancisYear: Senior A top shortstop in the area for several years, this senior put up eye-popping numbers at the plate this spring. Fernandez hit .573, striking out just six times in 103 at-bats. More impressively, she cranked out 17 doubles and 10 home runs while driving in 59 runs. Fernandez also scored 55 times and stole 19 bases.
Marissa GaglianoSchool: Wheaton AcademyYear: Junior There isn't much this junior can't do on a softball field. In her third year of varsity action, Gagliano batted .608 with five doubles and one triple. Scoring a team-high 37 runs, she struck out just three times in 81 plate appearances. The shortstop also made just one error on the spring.
Aly GermanosSchool: St. FrancisYear: Senior The other half of the outstanding middle infield duo at St. Francis, Germanos batted .566 this season. She belted seven doubles and a team-high eight triples while striking out just four times in 99 at-bats. She also scored 53 runs and drove in 16 and stole 19 bases.
Tiffany GiamariSchool: Wheaton NorthYear: Senior On a young Falcons team, this senior was a steadying force. Selected to the all-DuPage Valley Conference team, Giamari scored 25 runs while stealing 24 bases. She hit .295 on the spring and played shortstop at the end of the season.
Sammy GrangerSchool: Wheaton Warrenville SouthYear: Senior A main reason behind the Tigers' turnaround this spring, Granger was a strong contributor both in the pitching circle and at the plate. The staff ace compiled a record of 15-12, striking out 143 batters in 154-2/3 innings. She also hit .280 with three doubles, three home runs and 19 RBIs.
Jenny HarkabusSchool: Wheaton Warrenville SouthYear: Junior A force from the third spot in the batting order, this junior shortstop was a thorn in the side of opposing pitchers. Topping Wheaton Warrenville South with a .400 batting average, Harkabus produced seven doubles, two triples, three home runs, 22 runs scored and 27 RBIs.
Maggie RemusSchool: St. FrancisYear: Junior As the ace of the pitching staff, Remus finished the spring with a 22-1 record and an ERA of 1.05. She yielded just 14 walks in 133 innings of work while striking out 82. She also was a major contributor at the plate, batting .410 with four doubles, 18 runs scored and 22 RBIs.
Ashley StiverSchool: Glenbard NorthYear: Senior What a spring it was for Stiver, who played a pivotal role in the success of the Panthers. The senior topped Glenbard North with her .460 batting average and also added team highs in doubles (14), home runs (five) and RBIs (36). She also did an excellent job behind the plate after playing right field in 2012.
Jane TrzaskaSchool: Glenbard SouthYear: Senior The four-year starter saved her best for last. Leading the team with her .500 batting average, Trzaska tallied 13 doubles, seven home runs, 41 runs scored and 42 RBIs. Seeing time within the pitching circle as well as behind the plate, she posted a record of 11-3 with 119 strikeouts in 80-2/3 innings.
Jacklyn TyburkSchool: Glenbard WestYear: Senior A middle of the order hitter for Glenbard West during the past two seasons, Tyburk wrapped up her high school career with a .352 batting average and .474 on-base percentage this spring. She led the Hilltoppers with 26 RBIs and produced 10 doubles, three home runs and 22 runs scored.
Shelley WarmoltsSchool: Glenbard WestYear: Sophomore This sophomore had a true breakout spring for the Hilltoppers. One of the top hitters in the area with her .512 batting average, Warmolts knocked out 11 doubles, one triple and three home runs. She also led the team with 35 runs scored while driving in 20 and stealing 11 bases.
Honorable MentionGlenbard North: Alex Caliva, Heather SperlazzoGlenbard South: Aimee Gerhardt, Hannah TaylorGlenbard West: Taylor Langtry, Maggie Stalker, Rachel TerwilligerSt. Francis: Ali DittrichWest Chicago: Morgan Dastych, Jenna Foreman, Amanda GosbethWheaton Academy: Jessica Bosse, Michelle RidderhoffWheaton North: Kat Meyer, Kelly ThorntonWheaton Warrenville South: Cameron Briggs