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Sticking together : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Sticking together
Klingbeil earns All-Conference honor for Oswego East softball

by Kristin Sharp


Despite the ups and downs of the 2014 season, Oswego East head softball coach Laura Nussle never had to worry about team camaraderie.

The Wolves played around the .500 mark through the first half of the season before enduring a six-game losing streak in late April to finish the year with an 11-20 overall record.

Oswego East's season came to an end with a 7-4 loss to Plainfield North in the Class 4A regional on May 26.

"Team makeup was really positive. The girls played well together and they acted like a team," Nussle said. "They stayed positive and didn't get down when we were in a bad situation. They continued to fight no matter what game we were in. The scoreboard didn't always show the good things that happened for us on the field. One of the definite highlights was the triple play at the end of the season in the regional game. It was amazing to watch their energy after that and how we continued to fight back after we were down."

Oswego East opened the year with a 3-1 record after early non-conference wins over Rosary, Elgin and West Aurora and improved to 6-3 with a doubleheader sweep over Herscher in mid-April. The Wolves struggled through Southwest Prairie Conference play, however, building a 2-5 mark through the first half before finishing 2-12 overall.

Oswego East earned wins over West Chicago, Riverside-Brookfield, Plano and Metea Valley to close out the regular season schedule.

Oswego East senior center fielder Jordyn Klingbeil earned SPC All-Conference honors, and junior first baseman Rachel VanderWagen was a special mention. Minooka won the SPC title ahead of Plainfield East, while Plainfield Central finished third.

Klingbeil, who played in all 32 games this spring, batted .336 and finished with a team-best 37 hits and 19 runs scored in addition to four triples and 14 RBIs. She was one of seven seniors on Nussle's roster.

Senior Tiffani Palmatier, who hit a team-best .347 with 34 hits and 13 RBIs, while right fielder/second baseman Shannon Hale hit .311 and senior catcher Gretchen Gaertner hit .215 and was one of seven different players to hit a home run this spring. Senior third baseman Julia Johnson hit .219 with 10 RBIs, while senior Collette Kamberis also contributed in 16 games.

"Shannon Hale was a silent leader. She was one of those kids you could depend on to play as hard as she could. She was getting in the dirt at second, we could count on her in the outfield when we needed her and she took charge on a lot of the bunt situations, communicating and doing what we needed her to. Last year that was her role too," Nussle said.

VanderWagen, a three-year varsity player, led the junior class with a .337 batting average, four home runs and a team-best 16 RBIs in addition to32 hits and 15 runs scored. Jessie Ippolito was the starting shortstop while Emily Thorson stepped in at second base.

Junior Riley Schweig also contributed in 21 games, and freshman Shannon Gaul made an immediate impact playing the infield for the Wolves as well as the designated player.

"We're going to look different next year and we'll see what kids come up and try and fill those positions for us," Nussle said. "We have some strong kids in the lower leels in the program and looking forward to what they will show us.

"Riley did a nice job playing catcher in the last few games to give us some experience and she did nice at the plate as well. Having Emily Thorson back, she can play infield or outfield for us, and it's nice to have a handful of them back. Rachel is amazing at first and was always consistent at the plate. Her power really came around. I can't wait to see what she does next year."

On the mound, junior Kaelan O'Reilly threw 123 1/3 innings for Oswego East, finishing with a 7-9-1 record and a 3.97 ERA. Senior Alex Wagner threw 72 2/3 innings for the Wolves, returning after a preseason injury. She finished with a 5.88 ERA and a 4-8 record on the mound.

"I could count on either one of them in a situation. Alex did a great job staying positive and focused and worked hard for the team," Nussle said. "She did her job when she was out there.

"Kaelan did a good job maturing from last year to this year as a junior and she was able to hang tight in tough situations and pull through in some of those and get the outs when we needed her to," Nussle added.

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