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Another step forward : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Another step forward
Oswego softball team wins 13 games, Riess and Brady named All-SPC

by Kristin Sharp

6/12/2014

The history of the Oswego softball program has experienced its share of hardships since its last winning season in 1993, but under first-year head coach Denise McCance, the Panthers took another step closer to breaking the losing streak.

The Panthers capped the spring season with a 13-15 overall record for the second-highest win total in 20 years.

"We're looking to the future and getting the program turned around," McCance said.

Oswego opened the schedule with five game cancellations before finally facing Geneva on April 2. A 3-1 loss to the Vikings in the season opener sparked a 1-6 start to the season, but Oswego earned Southwest Prairie Conference wins over Plainfield North and Oswego East to build momentum into late April.

Oswego won six of its next seven games - including a 5-3 win over defending Class 4A state champion Minooka - to move to 9-9 overall.

"It's something that is a progression. They're getting to understand where they're going and how to get there. We're really close," McCance said.

Oswego lost a tough 5-3 game to Yorkville in early May followed by a close 5-4 loss to Plainfield Central to cap the SPC season with an 8-6 record and a fourth-place finish. Plainfield East finished second behind Minooka and Plainfield Central took third.

Oswego highlighted the end of the year with a 7-5 win over Joliet West in the Joliet West Quad on May 24. Joliet West eventually took its postseason to the Class 4A sectional finals, falling to state-bound Lincoln-Way East.

Oswego met Naperville Central in the Geneva Regional semifinal game on May 29 and lost 12-0 to the Redhawks in five innings. Naperville Central went on to reach the Elite Eight, falling to Sandburg, 4-2, in the Naperville North Super-Sectional.

Sandburg will play Lincoln-Way East and Warren will meet Glenbard North in the state semifinal games on Friday.

"You always focus on the last game when the season is over, but they really had a good season and had the most wins in awhile," McCance said. "We were close to .500. Maybe a few rainouts and a few opponents we didn't get to play. For a first year, I think we're right there. They're starting to see what it takes, especially in our conference."

Oswego graduated five players from its lineup, including second baseman Brooke Riess, who joined junior third baseman Savanna Brady on the All-Conference list.

Riess played in all 28 games, batting .390 with a team-best 41 hits and 26 RBIs in addition to 26 runs scored. Brady hit .442 with 34 hits and 18 RBIs and four home runs.

Senior left fielder Abby Etheridge (.244) also played in all 28 games, with 21 hits, 22 runs scored while senior first baseman Beth Figgins and senior Lauren Gerstung also contributed this season. Senior Julianne Nation pitched 47 innings for a 2-2 overall record and a 4.47 earned run average.

McCance returns a solid junior class that includes center fielder Kirsty Tracy, right fielder Diamond Owens, shortstop Jessica Lofthouse, designated hitter Alexa Becker and catcher McKayla Nila as well as Brady at third base and Taylor Foy on the mound.

Lofthouse hit .408 this spring with 31 hits and 22 RBIs while Becker hit .342. Foy pitched 75 1/3 innings this spring with a 6-6-1 record and a 3.62 ERA.

"The junior class is a strong class, so that's promising for the future," McCance said.





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