Naperville Central ranked first in the Sun-Times top 25 Chicago-area softball teams. Benet Academy ranked third.
1. Naperville Central: Eight starters are back from a team that opened last year 29-0 and spent a majority of the season at No. 1 until losing in the regional final to Downers South. Northern Illinois recruit P Keegan Hayes (22-3, 1.53 ERA) and Syracuse-bound OF Maddie Doane (.492, 3 HR, 64 H) are the key returners. Keep an eye on sophomore’s Lisa Tassi and Lindsey Gonzalez.
2. Marist: Loyola-bound senior SS Brooke Wyderski (.587, 12 HR, 64 RBI) and five other starters return, and that’s not good for opposing pitchers. Sophomore 2B Madison Naujoukas (.394, 2 HR) returns her big bat and solid defense. Sophomore P Lizzie Annerino and junior P Zariya Gonzalez will take over in the circle. Keep an eye on freshman 3B Alexis Rogers.
3. Benet: The Redwings will again have one of the best offenses in the state. Seven starters return, including Illinois-bound C Stephanie Abello (.505, 12 HR, 51 RBI). Georgie Southern recruit Rowan McGuire is now eligible after transferring from Downers North last year, and pitcher Molly Moran, who was injured last season, will be key.