ROCHELLE — The Rochelle Lady Hub varsity softball team made significant strides this season, putting three players on the Interstate All-Conference roster and going toe-to-toe with a 20-win Geneseo Maple Leaf squad on its home field during the IHSA 3A Regional Semifinals.
The Lady Hubs will look to continue making improvements after finishing 6-11 overall and 3-10 in the conference this season. Rochelle’s returning players will need to do so without head coach Lindsay Suess, however, who stepped down after five years running the program. The Lady Hubs swept their two-game set with Plano and split their series against Sandwich.
“The girls really owned what was in front of them,” Suess said. “The girls never got down on themselves and they never got discouraged. They came into every game ready to play and wanting to win. They took advantage of their opportunities. Our pitching did a very good job and we kept ourselves in a lot of games this season, which was something great to see.”
Four seniors will depart from this year’s varsity team including First-Team All-Conference starting pitcher Bella Lodico, who struck out 73 batters and allowed only nine walks. Seniors Sawyer McGee and Kendal Ansteth combined for 26 hits, 12 doubles and 20 RBIs in the middle of the Lady Hub batting order. Senior Zoe Hardcastle will also be moving on.
“I thought the top of our lineup did a great job of getting on base and scoring runs,” Suess said. “I think the biggest improvements for next season will be having more consistency at the plate and on defense. I think our younger kids need to work hard to fill those roles the seniors had.”
First-Team All-Conference sophomore Morgan Smardo (.417 average, 25 hits, 14 RBIs) headlines Rochelle’s returning players for next season. The Lady Hubs will also return a talented junior class that includes All-Conference Honorable Mention Jordin Dickey (.370, 20 hits, 11 RBIs), MeLisa Young (.333, 18 hits, 10 RBIs) and Ashley Knight (11 runs, five doubles). Sophomore Addie Friestad (.325) led the Lady Hub offense with two home runs this year.