Conference is No. 1 goal for Duke softball

After the Dukes' surprising run to state last spring, York is back with almost all of that team in the fold. The biggest difference from last year's group is that the team now has major expectations.

Just two players graduated from last year's team, outfielder Gracie Sullivan and No. 2 pitcher Elena Schwarz.

DePaul-bound Angela Scalzitti will again look to make plays with her elite on-base skills and speed. The leadoff hitter can set the table for power hitters in the middle of the lineup, Isabella Jaeger and Abby Solem.

"It's pretty exciting to be able to build on last season," coach Drew McGuire said. "They're ready to prove that it wasn't a fluke."

Junior pitcher Brooke Bandy was one of the surprise standouts last season and returns as the ace in the circle. Battery mate Sarah Milkowski and all four infielders are back, giving the Dukes a strong defensive unit. Abby Solem and Isabella Jaeger return at the corners and provide power in the middle of the order. Senior Taylor Pankau and junior Audrey Kosman return in the middle infield.

Scalzitti covers a lot of ground in center field. Returner Morgan Mehring and newcomer sophomore Amanda Karnatz are among those that will see time at the other two outfield spots. Sophomore Gabby Magnifico and senior Hannah Latimer will also be regulars.

Despite last year's postseason success, McGuire is focusing on winning conference instead of any playoff goals.

"I think our goal this year is to get a conference championship," he said. "We haven't had a conference championship in the program since 2003."

The Dukes open with a tough schedule next week beginning with a Tuesday game against Benet at the Rosemont Sports Dome. Doubleheaders against Maine West and Glenbard North follow later in the week. All three teams won Class 4A regionals last year.

"It's going to be a tough early schedule for us, but it will show us where we are," McGuire said.

York Dukes
Coach:
Drew McGuire
2013 record: 23-16, fourth in Class 4A
Top players:
Brooke Bandy jr. P
Isabella Jaeger jr. 1B
Sarah Milkowski jr. C
Angela Scalzitti sr. OF
Abby Solem so. 3B