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York surpassess season expectations en route to program's first state trophy

Dukes complete 'dream season' with fourth place finish

York's Sarah Milkowski (left) looks on with a smile as teammates Audrey Kosman and Taylor Pankau bite their fourth-place state medals during the awards ceremony Saturday in East Peoria.
York's Sarah Milkowski (left) looks on with a smile as teammates Audrey Kosman and Taylor Pankau bite their fourth-place state medals during the awards ceremony Saturday in East Peoria.

ELMHURST – The York softball team didn’t match its expectations on the field at state, but the experience off the field did.

The Dukes placed fourth in Class 4A after losing to Minooka and Barrington at East Peoria’s Eastside Centre. The blow of the defeats was softened by the fact that this is a team that didn’t expect to be in that position until right before they sealed the last out in the supersectional win.

York had just two seniors and only a few returners from a team that lost in a sectional semifinal a year ago. The fourth-place trophy represents the highest finish in program history.

“Coach is always talking about legacy and what we’re leaving behind,” said senior Gracie Sullivan. “It was just an awesome way to end my senior year. Leaving a trophy and being like, 'Oh, I won that.”

Sullivan and the Dukes got to see different sides of each other during the three-day trip. York traveled to East Peoria Thursday morning and the off-the-field activities provided the highlights the games did not.

“I think just being together with everyone for one last weekend was really fun because obviously we’re not going to be the same team next year,” said freshman Abby Solem. “That was probably the best part, just having one more hurrah with everybody.”

In the semifinal, the Dukes led eventual champion Minooka 3-2 entering the sixth inning, but the Indians scored four times in that inning to beat York. Barrington, which finished the season 36-2, held off the Dukes, 5-1, in the third-place game.

The two losses did not take away from the success of the season. The young team surpassed early season expectations and has a very strong foundation going forward.

“This season has been just a dream season,” said coach Drew McGuire. “It would have been nice to go down and maybe get a win or two down there. Obviously that’s what everybody was hoping for is a state title, but the fact that this team is so young and we got so many girls returning you never know what can happen next year. We’re just going to enjoy this for now and enjoy the memories that we made and the experiences that we had.”

In their words

“It is insanely cool to be the first [York softball team to win a trophy]. Being a freshman, I definitely have a lot to live up to the next couple years. It’s been really good for York to have another trophy besides cross country.”
– Abby Solem, freshman third baseman

“It’s nice to be a part of this history at York. It’s really a big deal for us. If you would have told me that we would be here a couple months ago I would have called you crazy."
– Angela Scalzitti, junior center fielder

"I think when you go down you almost don’t know what to expect, having never gone there before. The girls handled it super well. I don’t think that they were overwhelmed by the situation. I think we just had a couple things that we didn’t execute and we didn’t get that timely hit when they needed it, but they fought.”
– Drew McGuire, York coach

"It’s looking really good for next year and the years after.”
– Isabella Jaeger, sophomore first baseman

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