Teams and players to watch

Teams to watch

Rockridge: The Rockets capped off a 35-0 season by winning their second straight IHSA Class 2A state championship, the first time they’ve won back-to-back state titles. A 65-game winner at the start of the 2023 season, Rockridge is 64-0 over the past two years, with its last loss coming in the 2019 State 2A Semifinals.

Erie-Prophetstown: Finishing 15-4 last spring, the Panthers went 9-2 to finish second to Rockridge in the Three Rivers Conference West Division and won only the second regional title in program history, advancing to the Section 2A Tremont final before falling 10-1 at Rockridge.

Sherrard: The Tigers had a solid season under first-year head coach Mike Barnett, going 16-8 and finishing third at Three Rivers West at 7-4. Sherrard advanced to the 2A Regional Final in Kewanee before losing 6-4 to Erie-Prophetstown.

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Riverdale: An Elite Eight team in 2021, the Rams finished 14-14 and finished fourth in TRAC West at 6-5, but picked up a victory before a second consecutive regional title. They return a lot of talent to stay in the mix in a very strong conference as well as in the playoffs.

Kewanee: After a regional title run in 2021, the Boilermakers stayed strong with a 19-9 finish that included an 8-4 mark in the Three Rivers East Division, good for third place in a tight race with the champion Peru St. Bede and finalist Princeton. Several key comebacks should make the Boilers a team to be reckoned with in 23.

Ridgewood: The Spartans had a breakthrough campaign last spring going 25-6, finishing second in the Lincoln Trail Conference and winning their first regional title. Ridgewood’s season ended in the semifinals of Section 1A Williamsfield with a 4-3 nine-inning loss to St. Bede, but nearly all of its starters are back.

Mercer County: Finishing 15-14 and third in the Lincoln Trail with a 12-8 league mark, the Golden Eagles took on eventual state champion 2A Rockridge in a regional semifinal at home, losing 6-4. Several key returns allowed MerCo to aim higher this spring.

Annawan-Wethersfield: Just one win away from winning back-to-back 1A regional titles for the first time, the Titans (13-8, 9-7 LTC) need to replace one of the region’s top pitchers in Daci Yesterday, but are otherwise strong across the lineup and looking to maintain their status as conference contenders.

Players to watch

Libby Anderson, Sr. IF, Galva: Earned third-team Coaches Association of Illinois Class 1A All-State honors after a 2022 season in which she batted .547 and scored 21 points.

Alivia Bark, Sr. SS, Riverdale: Signed to the University of Wisconsin after earning first-team All-State ICA Class 2A honors and first-team All-Three Rivers West honors with a batting average of . 580 which included 11 doubles, six triples, six home runs, 42 RBIs and 34 runs.

Mya Brown, Jr. P/IF/OF, Ridgewood: Earned ICA All-State First-Team honors for Class 1A as well as All-Lincoln Trail Conference First-Team kudos after going 14-4 with a 1.67 ERA and 244 strikeouts. with a .366 batting average, seven doubles, seven home runs, 30 RBIs, 41 runs and 16 stolen bases.

Payton Brown, Sr. 1B, Rockridge: Illinois State University commitment and 2A All-State CIA first-team pick set a team record in a spring season last in hitting 17 homers, a part of the year in which she hit .528 with 20 doubles, 56 RBIs, 58 runs and 12 stolen bases.

Breckin DeLaRosa, So. C, Riverdale: Earned third-team ICA 2A All-State and second-team All-TRAC West honors in his freshman season, batting .419 with 10 doubles, four home runs and 28 RBIs.

Clara Franks, Jr. IF/P, Ridgewood: Earned First Team All-Lincoln Trail honors after a 2022 season in which she batted .388 with eight doubles, 21 RBI, 35 runs and 16 steals plus one throwing mark of 4-0.

Madi Frieden, Sr. C/1B/OF, Mercer County: Battered .574 to earn second-team ICA 2A All-State and first-team All-Lincoln Trail honors, she also had 15 doubles and six triples, driving in 28 carries and scoring 51 with 27 stolen bases.

Aylah Jones, Sr. P/OF, Erie-Prophetstown: A second-team ICA 2A All-State and unanimous first-team All-TRAC West pick after going 14-4 with a 1.38 ERA and 164 strikeouts in the batting in 22 in addition to a .327 average and 22 runs.

Lainey Kunert, So. OF, Orion: Was a third-team ICA 2A All-State pick as a rookie after batting .425 with six doubles and 22 runs.

Kendra Lewis, Jr. P/IF, Rockridge: Already committed to the University of Wisconsin, Lewis is 42-0 in his prep career, including last year’s 25-0 that included a 1 ERA .07 and 228 strikeouts. The CIA All-State 2A first-team winner also batted .434 with 18 doubles, four homers, 35 RBIs and 30 runs scored.

Kori Needham, Sr. OF, Rockridge: A unanimous first-team All-Three Rivers West pick like teammates Brown and Lewis and a second-team ICA All-Stater, Needham batted .384 with nine doubles, nine home runs, 37 RBIs and 38 races.

Teagan Nees, Sr. 2B, Sherrard: An ICA 2A third-team All-State pick and All-TRAC West first-team honor in 2022 after batting .402 with six doubles, 39 runs and 14 stolen bases.

Makaela Salisbury, Sr. P/IF, Kewanee: The All-Three Rivers East first-team star had a strong all-around season in 2022, going 9-2 and averaging .371 with six doubles, 19 RBI and 31 runs scored.

McKensey Stontz, Sr. OF, Kewanee: Named third-team ICA 2A All-State and first-team All-Three Rivers East, batted .427 with seven doubles, 10 homers, 36 RBIs and 36 runs last season.

— Compiled by Terry Duckett

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