Wheaton Academy senior shortstop Marissa Gagliano committed to Division-I Radford in March of her sophomore year.
Now in the final weeks of her high school career, the long buildup to college softball is in the final stages, and the Highlanders have to be enthused about Gagliano’s pending arrival in Virginia.
Gagliano, who lives within the St. Charles North school district, was batting .633 entering play last week with 21 stolen bases in 22 attempts and only three errors in 104 fielding attempts.
Making Gagliano’s offensive success all the more impressive, she switched from being a right-handed batter to being a lefty midway through her high school career in order to capitalize on her speed.
“I had a couple coaches tell me and I pushed it off, pushed it off, but then I realized if I really wanted to play in college that I’d have to make the transition,” Gagliano said. “And it wasn’t hard. I mean it’s still difficult at times, but I know it’ll be worth it, all the practice.”
Wheaton Academy assistant coach Scott Mennie mentors Gagliano and considers her an elite and versatile offensive catalyst.
“I have trained numerous Division I slappers and Marissa is up there with the best of them at this point in her career,” Mennie wrote in an email.
Gagliano has the ability to sting the ball with runners in scoring position but generally looks to bunt or slap her way on when she’s in table-setting mode early in an inning.
“You have so much more you can do on the left side than on the right side,” Gagliano said. “It’s just been awesome to see.”
While the season is going well for Gagliano and the Warriors, she was disappointed at losing out on the chance to play alongside her sister, Wheaton Academy freshman Meghan Gagliano, who tore her ACL before the start of the season. Both sisters are part of the Beverly Bandits travel softball program.
St. Charles East was issued the 3 seed and St. Charles North the 4 seed last week in the 20-team IHSA Class 4A Bartlett Sectional.
While East has a slightly better overall record, North won the teams’ first head-to-head meeting (the second comes today) and the rivals are neck-in-neck in the Upstate Eight Conference River race. Saints coach Kelly Horan was mildly surprised East was given the seeding nod over North.
“North should probably be ranked ahead of us but it doesn’t matter and I’m sure [North coach Tom Poulin] will say the same thing,” Horan said. “If you’re a 1 through 4, then you’re in a good spot, and we’re happy about that for sure.”
Glenbard North is the top seed and Conant is the 2 seed in the sectional. East and North would not meet in the postseason until a potential sectional championship matchup.
Veteran St. Francis coach Ralph Remus plans to stay on the job despite this being the senior season for his daughter, Spartans pitcher Maggie Remus.
Remus, a St. Charles resident, joked that some might be unhappy to hear it, but he has no plans to depart the dugout.
“I’m still having a good time, so I’ll stick around,” Remus said.
– Jay Schwab, email@example.com
IN THE GROOVE
St. Charles North, Jr., 1B
What she did: Howlett homered on consecutive days last week in North’s Upstate Eight Conference River wins against Elgin and Batavia, driving in three runs apiece in the games.
Kate Peterburs, St. Charles East, Sr., 1B
What she did: Peterburs went 3 for 3 with a two-run home run in East’s 3-2 win against Geneva on Tuesday, then went 3 for 4 with a triple and three RBIs Wednesday against Elgin.
WHAT WE LEARNED FROM LAST WEEK
Annika Radabaugh didn’t take long to find her way into the Geneva record books.
The freshman first baseman/third baseman tied former Vikings slugger Jen Monaco’s program record with eight home runs in a season last week, and still has a handful of more games to try and set the record for herself.
WHAT WE’LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD
The direction of the Upstate Eight Conference River race.
Both St. Charles East and St. Charles North have two conference losses leading up to today’s showdown at North. After today’s game, East only has one conference game remaining (Friday vs. Larkin) while North has remaining UEC River contests at Larkin on Wednesday and against visiting Streamwood on Friday.
COACH SLY SAYS
Some of Burlington Central’s lopsided wins in conference play show that softball is one sport in which the Rockets are ripe for a new conference.
Central is moving on to a new league in 2016-17, and hopefully the Rockets’ softball program will be challenged more consistently once that takes place.
BC softball has been a consistent power and softball is definitely one of the sports in which Central has outgrown most of the Big Northern.