You can't win a fistfight with an open hand, and a team can't win games without all players possessing a winning mentality. That's the "one fist" credo Coach Scott Sobol has for his versatile, talented team this season.
Now in his second season leading the crew, Sobol knows the ropes and recruited most of his players.
"I have a great recruitment class plus two returners. I'm excited about this group. We look really good, and we're deep," he said.
Incoming pitcher, Liz McCuan (Mother McAuley), was an exciting pickup for her athleticism and ability to play outfield if needed. Angela Abrand (Richards) has the same athletic-minded mold as recent grad and catcher Savannah Julian. Abrand is a hardworking, dedicated catcher and infielder, who will start at shortstop. Donna Booe (Reavis) is a big hitting third baseman with quick, soft hands. She's one of several new Cyclones who played together on travel softball teams.
Karly Krown and Morgan Moran, both Stagg grads, are strong finds for the Cyclones. Krown should be one of the top pitchers with great ball movement including a wicked changeup. Moran can play almost anywhere on the field but will mostly be used on the mound or behind the plate. Darcee Nichols (Lockport) is a skilled outfielder and lefty hitter, who also can play shortstop.
Madi Davis (Lockport) joined the team late in the fall because she was competing on the successful Cyclone soccer team. In addition to her speed and aggressiveness, her cannon for an arm will make her the starting catcher. Jessica Coyle (Shepard) and Annabelle Fritz (Oak Lawn) both transferred in, bringing with them strong bats and positive attitudes.
Last year's All-Conference pitcher/infielder and big hitter, Samantha Stahl (Argo), and Natalie Mazzone (Luther North), pitcher and outfielder, are the two returners. Mazzone put the work in during the offseason to develop a stronger bat. Both should make significant contributions.
The Cyclones are loaded with pitchers—seven—and enough depth to fill all positions adequately. Last year, they only fielded a team of 11, making it necessary to move players to different positions not necessarily their main spot.
Joining the coaching staff is former Cyclone Jen Vanek, who has a background in health and fitness. She played ball at Moraine Valley with Assistant Coach Ari Bulthius, who suggested bringing in a third coach. The additional coach and strong players make for a winning mix.
"I'm really excited by this group. We won't have people out of position, and I'm confident in our punch," Sobol said. "I wax poetic, but they've gelled and we're ready for the season. I'm optimistic. We have the depth and versatility. If they execute what they're capable of, they're going all in. Their work ethic is staggeringly good. The only thing left is to put it on the field and see what happens."
Like last year, Sobol's credo of one fist, which stems from his career as a firefighter, is back in action. The team is one unit and should play with that mentality to win. Their first step is to have a winning record, then win a conference title, get to nationals and win a title. But the biggest challenge is getting the team to see their ability the way the coaches do.
"Every team is running the same drills. The challenge is to get them to see in themselves what we see in them. That's tough, but we're all a part of this," Sobol said. "There are good teams we'll face, but we're a good team, too. The goal is always to win a national championship. That's the point of every season. The challenge is getting the team to believe it. Our goals are one, and that's the whole point."