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Glenbard North grad Santora delivers Grand Valley State to series in final season

CAROL STREAM – She’s played softball since age 5, so it’s not surprising that Hannah Santora is sad that a career that took her from Glenbard North High School to Grand Valley State University has come to an end.

But she said there might be one person who has been affected even more: her dad, Lenny.

“He owns his own flooring business, and I would go there and pitch to him five days a week,” said Santora, who admitted it will feel a little weird when the 2014 season begins and she isn’t playing. “On top of that, he made it to every one of my games.

“I think my dad is taking it harder than I am. But I told him, on his birthday every year, I’ll go pitch to him. That will be his present.”

A four-year all-DuPage Valley Conference performer with the Panthers, Santora made up her mind as a junior that she wanted to attend Grand Valley State.

Getting there, however, took a year longer than she had hoped.

“As a freshman, I had to go to Kankakee Junior College to get my grades up,” Santora said. “I didn’t do my homework in high school.

“The main thing was their coach (Doug Woods). He followed me around (during high school) and put up with a lot from me. When he found out I couldn’t come freshman year, he found Kankakee for me and said if I got my grades up, I could come sophomore year.”

Woods’ faith in Santora certainly paid off as the Carol Stream resident was an immediate contributor from the moment she walked onto the campus.

Santora’s 26 wins this spring was the third-highest mark in program history, and her 61 career victories ranks her seventh all-time. She was an all-region selection twice and, as a junior, she also garnered All-American recognition.

“I worked as hard as I could,” Santora said. “My team helped me a lot, and I just wanted to do my best for them.”

Grand Valley State advanced to the Division II World Series this season for only the second time.

“You can’t ask for much more than to go to the World Series to end your softball career,” Santora said.

Now back in Carol Stream, Santora is again teaching private pitching lessons, something she has done since her senior year in high school. In the process of applying for jobs, the communications major would like to work at a children’s hospital as an event planner.

In the meantime, her right arm is finally getting a break.

“I have not picked up a ball (competitively since the season ended) and I won’t do that for a while,” said Santora, who took pitching lessons from current Wheaton North coach Emily Johnson. “But down the road, I might play some 12-inch.”

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