Becky Mantel (Riverside Brookfield, Riverside) was one of Radford’s top hitters as a freshman. Mantel started all 56 games in center field and was an all-freshman selection in the Big South. She led the team with a .309 batting average, 47 hits, 35 runs, 25 walks and a .467 on-base percentage. Mantel also set a new single-season Radford record by getting hit by 20 pitches. She also had seven home runs and seven outfield assists.
Mantel’s former RB teammate, Jessie Hutchens (Berwyn), made 52 starts on the left side of the infield for Radford. Hutchens, a junior, hit .264 and led the Highlanders in home runs (10), doubles (12), slugging percentage (.541) and RBIs (38).
Kiley Rusen (Riverside Brookfield, Brookfield) was the top freshman hitter for Division II-powerhouse Valdosta State. Rusen hit .333 and started every game at first base while driving in 32 runs and scoring 16 more to earn second-team honors in the Gulf South Conference. The Blazers were unable to defend their national title, but still made the final eight of the NCAA Tournament and won the GSC Tournament.
Shannon Cawley (Nazareth, Brookfield) hit .275 as a sophomore for Indiana after being a first-team Big Ten selection as a freshman. Cawley led the Hoosiers in at-bats (160) and RBIs (26) while starting 53 of the team’s 54 games.
Doing double time
Stephanie Polich (Nazareth, Lyons) capped off her Illinois Wesleyan career by hitting .415 in 65 at-bats during her senior season. Polich, who also played four years for the Titans’ volleyball team as a defensive specialist, is tied for fourth on the IWU career stolen base list with 54 and is sixth in games played (169).
King of the Stars
Erica King (St. Joseph, Lyons) was second on Dominican with a .337 batting average in 89 at-bats. The sophomore drove in 18 runs and scored 11 to help the Stars finish 27-11 and 19-5 in the Northern Athletic Conference (Division III).
Vito DeRango (Riverside Brookfield, North Riverside) hit .311 in 31 games for North Central to earn second-team honors in the Collegiate Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin. The sophomore infielder was joined on the Cardinals’ roster by freshman Kurt Suzuki (Riverside Brookfield, Brookfield), who spent the season with the junior varsity team.
Joe Ruge (Riverside Brookfield, North Riverside) hit .302 and shared the team lead with 35 RBIs for St. Francis (Joliet), but truly starred for the Fighting Saints in the field. He was named to the 2013 Rawlings NAIA Baseball Gold Glove Team as the top NAIA defensive player at first base. Ruge logged a .998 fielding percentage, successfully handling 468 of 469 total chances and played the season’s final 48 games without committing an error. During his three years at USF, Ruge has made only five errors in 1,063 chances and was a Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Gold Glove Team honoree in 2012 and 2013. He also was an academic all-district selection.
Andrew Skinner (St. Joseph, Lyons) hit .333 as a sophomore for Harper College. He had 12 extra-base hits and led the team with 30 RBIs and 11 stolen bases. Skinner’s accomplishments earned him second-team all-conference and second-team all-region honors.