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2013 IESA Girls Softball State Finals This Weekend

Competition in the 13th annual Class A and Class AA Illinois Elementary School Association (IESA) Girls Softball State Final Tournaments will be this weekend at Champion Fields in Normal. This is the 36th year of the state series.

The Class A field should have an all too familiar feel, as five of the eight qualifying teams participated in last year's state tournament. Getting things going in game one of the quarterfinals will be unbeaten Payson Seymour (21-0) pitted against 2011's state champion in Casey-Westfield (14-2). The battle of the Braves will feature two explosive offenses, beginning first with Payson Seymour and team MVP Melina Tedrow. Tedrow, who pitches and plays shortstop, leads her team with an impressive .529 batting average while tallying 37 hits on the year. Countering will be a Casey-Westfield squad that hammered 13 runs in just five innings of play en route to their sectional championship. "We know the importance of jumping ahead early and making that a priority," said head coach Traci Worby.

Quarterfinal game two in Class A features a matchup of state tournament veterans in 2012's fourth place finisher Princeville (16-0) and the Cougars of Springfield Christ the King (14-1). Led by pitcher Becca Sauer and catcher Alexis Hammann, the Cougars return to the big dance with six eighth graders, all of whom are three year starters. Hammann in particular has had her share of big moments, most recently in the regional semifinal game against Springfield Blessed Sacrament when her 7th inning walk off hit won it for the Cougars. In the opposing dugout will be a Princeville team who has now made it to the state tournament three years in a row. Making a difference on the field are four key eighth graders in Haley Holt, Marissa Horton-Meza, Molly Davis and Chloe Lane. Lane in particular has stepped up for her team, shifting from left field to 2nd base while batting second in the lineup.

Game three features a rematch from last year's quarterfinals, as the Pumas of McNabb Putnam County (21-2) will look to avenge an 18-5 defeat against the Wildcats of Bourbonnais Maternity BVM (17-3). Still searching for that elusive state title, head coach Randy King and his Wildcats have finished third, second and third in their three previous state appearances (09,11,12). Standing in their way will be a Puma squad that boasts a 19-1 pitcher in eighth grader Aleceya Davis. Davis and company will be looking for their first state title since capturing gold back in 2009. "We play together really well within our system and the girls buy into that nicely," said Puma head coach Chris Walker. "They remind me a lot of our 2009 State Championship team."

Rounding out Class A are the Saints of Pontiac St. Mary's (13-5) up against the Warriors of White Hall North Greene (13-4). Although new to the state scene, the Warriors have come a long way since their 0-8 season of a year ago. "We just came off a winless season in 2012, and excluding the sixth graders, we only added one player," said head coach Tim Roberts. "These girls do a great job listening, learning, and making adjustments…they really love softball, and they want to be great." Standing in their way will be the Saints of Pontiac St. Mary's, who are anxious to make state history of their own. Returning to the tournament for the first time since their early exit back in 2006, these Saints continue to follow the example set by eighth graders Brittany Henson and Megan Masching.

Experience remains a common theme in Class AA, with all but one squad having previously medaled at the state tournament within the past four seasons. Game one features the 2012 state runner-up in Mt. Zion (15-7) against last season's fourth place finisher in the unbeaten Mustangs of Homer Glen Homer (17-0). Head coach Amy Marzano and her Mustangs enter the state tournament unbeaten for the second consecutive season, but notes there are always ups and downs no matter your record. "We've had an undefeated season which is a great success but we've never had to pick ourselves up from a loss," said Marzano. Looking to give Homer Glen that first loss of the season will be the Braves of Mt. Zion, who came within two runs of capturing first in last season's championship game. Led by a bevy of eighth graders, Mt. Zion references its 7-6 extra inning win over fellow state qualifier Mattoon as the turning point of their season.

Game two of Class AA action pits the 19-3 Trojans of Washington Central against the Wildcats of Mattoon (18-4). Led by eighth graders Abrienne Lee, Paige Arthur, Isabella Coffey, and Avery Risinger, Mattoon returns to the state tournament for the sixth time since 2005. That impressive run was highlighted by the 2008 state championship, a feat in which head coach Crystal Sparks hopes to replicate in 2013. Standing between them and their title hopes is a Washington Central team that recently outlasted Bloomington JHS in 12 innings to capture their sectional championship. Head coach Katy Warren leads the Trojans back to the state tournament for the first time since their fourth place finish back in 2010. Coach Warren signals a late season loss as a wakeup call for her Trojans. "We had an upsetting loss that ended up being a turning point for us. From then on, we have worked hard to play up to our potential every game and never give up no matter what the circumstances may be."

Edwardsville Lincoln (15-4) and Wenona Fieldcrest (20-8) keep things going in game three of Class AA quarterfinal play. Each team has experienced tournament success in the past; however both missed out on the big dance a year ago. The Wildcats of Edwardsville Lincoln took home third in both 2008 and 2011 and advance this year after an impressive sectional championship showing. Meanwhile, the Knights of Wenona Fieldcrest are led by pitcher and team MVP Emma Lorton. Head coach Amber Pescitelli describes Lorton as a leader both on and off the field. Other key contributors for the Knights are catcher Alayna Fuchs and 3rd basemen Cheyenne Park, each having excelled both offensively and defensively.

Concluding quarterfinal play for Class AA are the Tigers of Bourbonnais Upper Grade Center (18-3) pitted against the Bee Bees of Williamsville (26-1). Returning to the state tournament for the first time since capturing fourth in 2009, the Bee Bees are led by a group of 10 eighth graders. "The best thing about this group of eighth graders is that when one is down, the other nine pick her up," said head coach Sonya Jones. Hoping to counter the experience of Williamsville is newcomer Bourbonnais UGC, who is continually fueled by the sportsmanship and resilience of one teammate. " Isabel Warmoth…Izzy has been our number one encourager," said head coach Jenna Yaeger. "She is the teammate who is always picking up the other players and cheering them on.  Even though she may not always be playing, she is always in the game 100% of the time."

The starting times of the games Friday and Saturday are staggered by class. The Class AA quarterfinals begin Friday at 10:00 a.m. The Class A quarterfinals get under way at 10:30 a.m. The four quarterfinal winners advance to semifinal games Saturday morning with the third place and championship games set for Saturday afternoon. The Class AA semifinals get under way at 10:00 a.m. with the third place game set for 2:00 p.m. and the championship game at 4:00 p.m. The Class A semifinals begin at 10:30 a.m. with the third place game at 2:30 p.m. and the title game at 4:30 p.m.

The price of admission Friday will be $5.00 for adults and high school students and $2.00 for senior citizens (62 and over) and students (K-8). Children younger than kindergarten are admitted free both days. Fans attending the games Saturday will receive a wristband that is to be worn all day and will be used for entry to the facility throughout the day. Each team advancing to the Saturday games will play two games that day. The price of admission for the wristband Saturday will be $7.00 for adults and high school students and $3.00 for senior citizens (62 and over) and students (K-8).

Complete pairings for each state final, plus the FanZone, can be found at www.iesa.org. Click on the Girls Softball line in the orange box at the top of the IESA Web Site Home Page. Scores will be updated on the IESA website after each game.

IESA girls softball began in 1978 and was a one-class state series until 2001 before the split to Class A and Class AA competition bringing eight teams in each class to the state final. Classes in IESA two-class competition are determined by dividing the schools entered in the sport evenly.

This year a total of 199 schools entered the softball series and began competition at the regional level. Classification of each school is determined by the enrollment of students in the seventh and eighth grade from the previous school year. The Class A enrollment range this year was 1-152 and AA began at 153.

For more information, please contact the Softball Administrator John Venerable at 309-829-0114 or john@iesa.org.



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