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Benet softball sets own high expectations

LISLE – Maeve McGuire (University of Georgia) and Ali Michalik have departed after batting .516 and .412, respectively, and Abi Gerth and Olivia Watson have also graduated, and yet Benet may be as strong as it has been in years.

Benet brings back experienced players at nearly every position.

“It’s never been like this,” head coach Jerry Schilf said. “There’s really only one new kid on the roster. Usually there’s three or four new faces on the roster, but last year we didn’t have a JV team so we had a little bit bigger roster than usual.

“We lost four players [to graduation], but we really only have one position to fill.”

Megan Stoppelman and Emily York split pitching duties last year while Molly Moran sat out the season with a knee injury. Stoppelman and York are both back and Moran is close to making her return.

Rowan McGuire was ineligible after transferring in last season. She and Moran are ready to go this spring, and the players that filled in for them last year are also back

Opponents will most likely fear having to face returning players like Stephanie Abello, Marissa Panko and Julianne Rurka.

Abello batted .550 with 12 home runs and 51 RBIs last season. Panko hit .496 with a team-high 58 hits and 46 runs scored, and Rurka finished with a .362 average and was second on the team with 40 RBIs.

“Marissa and Julianne are two big hitters and Stephanie was right there last year, too,” Schilf said. “And I really think York might end up being the best hitter of them all. She had four home runs in the regional last year, and they were blasts.

“She’s scary when she swings the bat.”

The always-competitive East Suburban Catholic Conference will test the Redwings well before the postseason arrives. The goal in the playoffs is to match the success Benet has had in other sports in recent memory, including the boys basketball team’s run to the state finals this season.

“We’re at a point where Benet athletics is competitive at every level no matter the sport, so I think the expectations are high,” Schilf said.

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