2021 was the most successful post season ever for Neuqua Valley softball after a run to the sectional final. With many key players returning and a new head coach, the expectations are high for the Wildcats this spring. Patrick Codo brings us the latest Team Profile, presented by Advantage Acura.
“It’s like we’ve all played together and it’s like really fun it’s like one big family and then we all enjoy like hanging out with each other too.”
2021 was a fun and historic season for the Neuqua Valley softball team. The Wildcats won 26 games and captured their third consecutive conference title as members of the DVC, and first regional championship since 2012. The Blue and Gold were not done from there, as the team was able to swing their way to a first ever appearance in the sectional finals. Unfortunately a 4-0 loss to Yorkville ended the run. Now with the 2022 season underway, eleven varsity players return to the diamond, but will have a new leader at the helm in first year head coach Dani Asquini.
“I think for the girls the transition of having me here is probably really nice just because I have been around them for a while. Been in the program for a long time so I think for that it’s eased the transition to having a new head coach this year.”
However, she is no stranger in the Neuqua Valley softball dugout as she was an assistant alongside former head coach, Christina Chrencik who went on Maternity leave during last season. Now with the whistle in her hand, Asquini is ready to use 2021 as momentum fuel for the new go around.
“I think last year was really eye opening we’ve realized our potential we realized how far we could go and the things we could do and that’s bringing us some motivation this year and some fire to our feet this year because we want to keep going we wanna push it even farther than what we did last year.”
Three of those returners were all conference selections in DVC pitcher of the year Hannah Meeks, DVC player of the year Maia Clifford, along with Kayla Shymkewich. Meeks and Shymkewich followed by Kaitlyn Wagner and Alexa Carrozza are taking their softball talents to the collegiate level after the conclusion of their high school career. But in the meantime, the players are ready to finish what they started and make 2022 another season to remember.
“We’ve seen like a lot of the other teams before so we kinda know what to expect like I said we have all but three returning varsity players, so I feel like we just have like a really good rhythm going into the season.”
“I feel like we really grew from like start to finish and like we like as team just like became like one well-oiled machine I guess and like it was a lot easy for us to like communicate with each other, I guess and like those pivotal moments and like cheer each other up than like how to cheer each other up” “returning varsity definitely knows how to move around in varsity and knows what a leader is as far as like on the field and off the field and getting those other players to have that experience is great. So definitely having returning varsity members is a huge importance to me.”
Despite only having four loses a season ago, the sluggers took those wounds as valuable lessons and are ready to turn the page and leave it all on the field as the spring begins.
“You just wanna reverse the clock and like get that one pitch back and so as a team we just like really like knew that’s the one feeling we don’t wanna have this year is like watching the third strike go by.”
Thanks to Mother Nature, Neuqua Valley softball is just two games into the season, both of them victories over Sandburg and Bishop Mac. These players know that if they want to make a deeper run into the postseason, playing against top state opponents will help boost their confidence and experience level for a potential spot down state.
“We’re hoping to play some higher up teams and some ranked teams this year I know we play Marist in a few weeks. I’m really excited for that to give us more like hard experiences to learn from.”
For Naperville Sports Weekly, I’m Patrick Codo.
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