Every college softball team, or any athletic team, needs a few players like Ally Seplak on the roster.
The Waubonsie Valley graduate was a contributor on a consistent basis.
During her career at Eastern Illinois University, Seplak started 110 games and appeared in 146. She hit over .200 in three of those years, including a batting average of .258 or better in her final two years.
As a senior, Seplak started in 38 of 45 games and finished with a .258 batting average. She had 24 hits, 13 runs, 11 walks, five RBIs, a double and a stolen base. In the field, she was flawless with 26 putouts and two assisted putouts as Eastern Illinois went 36-14, 20-3 in the Ohio Valley Conference.
“My senior year, along with my sophomore year, were the best,” Seplak said. “We were so good both years. We won the regular-season conference title and we got to host the conference tournament. We all worked so hard to make it happen.”
In her career, she batted .237 with 66 hits in 279 at-bats. Six were doubles. She scored 41 runs, walked 28 times, drove home 18 runs and stole five bases. In the field, she never had a fielding percentage lower than .923 during her four-year career.
In her time, Eastern Illinois was highly successful, with three winning seasons overall and four straight in the Ohio Valley Conference. In 2011 and 2013, they won over 20 Ohio Valley Conference games. Overall, they were 128-79, 76-27 in the OVC.
The daughter of Steve and Holly of Yorkville, Seplak is completing her degree in elementary education. She is currently doing her student teaching in New Zealand through a special program called COST. She will have a concentration in math and will have a middle school endorsement as well.
She has already walked with her class, but her official graduation date is Dec. 2. She was named to the Dean’s List a total of four times. She was also on the Ohio Valley Conference All-Academic Team for four semesters.
“Getting accepted into the COST Program was tough — I had to complete a few interviews as well as applications,” Seplak said. “I will miss playing college softball. Those four years were truly the best of my life. The bonds that you make with your teammates and coaches are unforgettable and irreplaceable. I feel extremely lucky to have experienced that. It was made special by the family atmosphere created by the team and the coaches.”
Waubonsie Valley graduate Jelani Johnson tried his hand at NCAA Division I and NCAA Division II basketball during his four-year college career.
After scoring 62 points as a Western Illinois freshman, Johnson started 20 of 30 games for the Leathernecks and scored a total of 174, an average of 5.8 per game. He averaged at least 3.4 points the next three years.
Transferring to Bellarmine as a junior, he helped the Louisville-based school advance to the NCAA Division II Final Four.
“The support for basketball in Louisville was unbelievable,” Johnson said. “There were times that we attended University of Louisville’s games and they attended ours as well. To get that kind of support from the other schools in the area and the town in general was amazing.”
Johnson, who averaged 19.5 minutes in 33 games during his junior season, scored 112 points and grabbed 98 rebounds, respective averages of 3.4 and 3.0. During his senior season, he started in 29 of 31 games, averaging 29.3 minutes.
“My junior year was my most exciting as a basketball player,” Johnson said. “The first game I started was in the playoffs. By doing that, the coaches made my confidence skyrocket. That playoff game was one of the biggest crowds that I ever played in front of.”
In his career, he tallied 551 points, 390 rebounds, 175 assists, 121 steals and 37 blocked shots. He sank 208-of-470 field goals and 56-of-88 free throws, hitting 79 treys. He was a team captain for the 2012-13 season.
The son of Natalie and Thayer of Aurora, Johnson will earn his degree in communications/journalism. He plans to attend graduate school. He was named to the Bellarmine Dean’s List during one semester.