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BELLEVILLE — Alyssa Krausz had never seen so many pitches out of the strike zone.

Angry and upset, the Belleville East senior needed some consoling. And a few words of wisdom.

Krausz, one of the most feared hitters in the Southwestern Conference, drew a pair of intentional walks in an early-season contest against Waterloo. She was forced to swing at numerous offerings well off the dish in her other two plate appearances.

A three-year varsity regular, Krausz was beginning to wonder if she would ever get a chance to display the hitting skills that earned her a .487 average with a team-high nine homers and 46 in 2018.

"I don't think she understood that by people walking her and not pitching to her, that was a sign of respect," explained her senior teammate Jackie Belzer.

Belzer, East coach Natalie Peters and assistant Andrea Roberts took Krausz aside and explained to her that she was going to be a marked girl.

Thanks to her stellar performances as a sophomore and junior, Krausz was not going to get too many pitches to hit this spring. At least not as many as she did when she was batting behind standout Alex Boze in the power-packed batting order.

It was then — and only then — that Krausz realized the amount of fear she struck in opposing pitchers.

"It was a totally different mindset for her this season," Peters said. "She was one of the key parts to our offense and because we had (three) freshman in the lineup, she was going to be treated differently by everyone she faced."

Krausz got the message.

"I knew then that I probably wouldn't get one good pitch to hit all year," Krausz said. "And that's pretty much what happened. Every pitch that I hit, I had to go get."

That still didn't stop the hard-hitting third baseman.

Krausz went out and led the Lancers with seven home runs and 30 RBI. She hit .372 with a slugging percentage of .427 in helping a youthful squad to an 18-17 mark.

For those efforts, Krausz was selected as the Post-Dispatch spring softball player of the year.

Krausz's numbers, just off the pace from her previous two years, were even more impressive given the lack of quality pitchers offered to her.

During the Waterloo game, which East won 6-5, Peters just smiled when she saw how upset Krausz was at not getting a chance to display her talents.

"That's just what happens when other teams are afraid of you," Peters said. "It's a good sign — but at first, she didn't see it that way."

Krausz learned how to adjust her strike zone and take pitches to the opposite field. Sort of like a major league player hitting into a shift, she calmly went the other way and found success with situational hitting.

She went 4-for-4 in games against toughies Jerseyville and Murphysboro. She also reeled off hitting streaks of six and five games.

Most importantly, Krausz solidified her legacy at the tradition-rich program.

"She one of the top five hitters we've ever had here," Peters noted. "And that's saying a lot."

Krausz had 22 homers and 103 RBI in her three seasons on the varsity level. She finished with a .407 career batting average.

The Lancers went 76-32 with her in the lineup and reached the super-sectional round two years ago before losing to Lincoln-Way East.

One of the most popular players on the team, Krausz goes by the nickname, "Bobo,"

"Short for Bobo the clown," explained Belzer.

Krausz's ability to put her teammates at ease with humorous comments at the most serious of times made her invaluable, according to Peters.

"She a very fun kid," Peters said. "She's serious and she works hard. But she kind of likes to keep things light."

Krausz solidified her nickname by showing up to practice during her junior year decked out in a full clown costume complete with floppy shoes and a giant red nose.

Ever since then she's been known around the team and school as Bobo.

"More people call me that more than Alyssa," she said.

Krausz is following in the footsteps of her older sister Allison, who graduated from East in 2011. Allison hit .347 as a senior before playing at Southwestern Illinois College.

Alyssa is also going the junior college route. She will spend her first two years at Tallahassee Community College in Florida, which sports one of the top JUCO teams in the nation.

From there, she hopes to sharpen her game enough to play on the NCAA Division I level.

"She's got some work to do," Peters said. "But she's got the skill to get there."

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