Purple Ace fever is spreading through the St. Charles East softball program.
East senior Olivia Cheatham committed to the University of Evansville softball program Friday, the same decision reached earlier by classmate Alex Latoria.
Latoria’s earlier choice boosted Evansville’s stock, Cheatham acknowledged.
“We’ve played together since we were 7 in rec league,” Cheatham said. “We started off our first season of softball together, and it’s kind of cool to be finishing together.”
Cheatham, who was promoted to varsity part-way through her freshman year, has been a key cog in the Saints’ unprecedented run of consecutive 30-plus win seasons the past two years, including an IHSA Class 4A runner-up finish in 2013.
Cheatham visited Evansville – which competes in the Missouri Valley Conference – last month, and fielded a scholarship offer from Purple Aces coach Mat Mundell shortly thereafter.
Evansville, located in deep southern Indiana, was the first Division I school to pursue Cheatham, who also considered the University of Indianapolis and Olivet Nazarene.
“I always wanted to push myself to play at the highest level so I was really excited that I was given the opportunity [to play D-I softball],” Cheatham said.
Cheatham’s junior season dragged in the late stages because of a knee injury that she played through. She said she’s been healthy in recent months.
A shortstop for the Saints last season, Cheatham said she likely will play either in the middle infield or the outfield for the Aces. She said Evansville’s elementary education program and small size also made it a strong fit.
Cheatham and Latoria – a third baseman – will be among the returnees for a Saints program that will try to remain at an elite level in the spring despite the graduation losses of stalwarts such as pitcher Haley Beno, Kate Peterburs, Sarah Collalti and Tess Hupe. She said it’ll be “a different type of season,” acknowledging the program’s youth, but thinks the Saints will have the talent to remain highly competitive.
Having a couple Aces up their sleeve can’t hurt.
Cheatham and Latoria, close friends and travel ball teammates with the Bartlett Silver Hawks, are hopeful of rooming together when it’s time for college. Cheatham said Latoria was encouraging but not pushy when it came to her recruitment.
“She wanted me to do what was best for me,” Cheatham said. “She encouraged me to go to Evansville with her but she also knew it was my decision.”
Thorpe honored: Marmion football and boys track coach Dan Thorpe was honored with the Fr. Alcuin Deck Distinguished Service Award by the school for the first semester of the 2014-15 school year.
According to a school news release, the award is “presented to an individual in recognition of outstanding contribution and faithful service to Marmion Academy and in gratitude for exemplifying a spirit of charity and dedication as a member of the Marmion faculty and staff.”
Thorpe also is a social studies teacher and college guidance counselor at the school.
• Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or email@example.com.