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St. Charles High junior outfielder Breanna Hollowell loves spreading the joy of her favorite sport.

In addition to her fine work on the field – she hit .448 last year to help the Pirates reach the Class 3 state quarterfinal round -  Hollowell also stretched her influence across the globe.

“Over the summer, my family hosted a 15-year-old girl from Germany, her brother was our German exchange student three years ago,” Hollowell said. “Her name is Pia and she spent her first full day in the US watching me play three softball games. She said she had never seen a live baseball game, only in movies. She didn’t even know that softball was a sport. She had only heard of baseball.”

Hollowell's work must have made an impact. Softball has now become a major part of Pia's life.

“After she returned home she searched and found an American softball team and joined,” Hollowell said. “She’s currently learning the game and is part of the Stuttgart Reds. She travels seven miles on her own to practice and watches as many baseball games as she can.”

It's easy to see why Hollowell's influence has made a difference.

“She was an infielder coming in as a ninth grader, but I asked her to learn the outfield and she excelled,” St. Charles coach David Jones said. “(She is a) hard worker, great listener and great teammate. She had our only hit against Mexico in the quarterfinals last year to drive in the last run to be scored against them last season.”

Hollowell made the position switch look easy.

“Moving from the infield to the outfield was not too difficult - it was just different,” Hollowell said. “I really only played the infield growing up. I was uncertain how quickly I could learn a new position, but after the first couple of games I fell in love with the outfield. I feel that being able to play the outfield has help strengthen my skills to become a more versatile player.”

She amassed a .900 fielding percentage with just one error last season.

ROSATI-KAIN HOPES TO KEEP ON WINNING PATH

There is little doubt that the Rosati-Kain softball program is headed in the right direction. Over the past two seasons, the Kougars doubled their win total on the varsity level from nine to 18 wins.

Kougars coach Dan Schulte welcomes back eight starters including Mya Bethany, who led the entire area with a robust .672 batting average.

“It's my third year and I feel really good about the team, we're really heavy with upperclassmen,” Schulte said.

While Schulte is excited for what's to come, one player – senior catcher Mallory Coleman – thinks the team can feed off of its 18-5 finish last fall.

“It was a really good feeling,” Coleman said. “We had a great year where we worked together as a team and we worked all really well together. There was such a good team dynamic.”

Along with Bethany, who also drove in 24 runs and was 10-4 as a pitcher, Rosati welcomes back other leaders such as junior infielders Rachel Martin (.551 average, four home runs, 38 RBI) and Kate Kleinigger (.528, four home runs, 30 RBI).

“This year, I think we could do even better than we did last year,” Coleman said. “We have a great group of girls and we have even more girls coming up and they're a great group. We have some freshmen that are learning really well.”

Schulte said that the new season brings new goals, such as winning a district title.

“If we're able to do that, we'll be in the tournament and we'll see where it leads us," Schulte said.

SULLIVAN SENIORS LOOKING TO CLOSE CAREERS IN STYLE 

The Sullivan Eagles are expecting another banner season. They finished second in the state in 2016 and third last season under coach Ashley Crump.

This season will mark the last hurrah for a core group that includes utility players Kloey Blanton and Payton Counts, first baseman, Hannah Cox, pitcher Addison Purvis and outfielder Grace Glaser.

“We are excited about this season,” Crump said. “This group of seniors have accomplished so much and they want to end their careers here stronger than they started. They are great athletes, leaders and just all-around great people. The entire team has been working hard and they understand they have to earn the goals they have set for themselves this season.”

The coach said that the trio of Purvis (.531, eight home runs 38 RBI), Cox (.421, 10 home runs 36 RBI) and junior Hanna Johanning (.472, eight home runs 35 RBI) should provide plenty of pop in the middle of the lineup.

WESTMINSTER ON THE RISE

Westminster is coming off a winning season for the first time since 2015.

That success should continue, according to coach Dan Petke.

The majority of last year's 13-12 team returns.

“We lost three seniors last year that each had a significant impact on the season,” Petke said. “Though we will miss them, we look forward to this coming season returning a lot of experience and additional depth. We will look to seniors Lauren Gates and Reese Earleywine to lead the team this year. They have both been four-year starters and have been instrumental to our team on both offense and defense.”

Gates (.516, one home run, 17 RBI) and Earleywine (.492, one home run, 26 RBI) will look to lead an offense that averaged 6.8 runs per game.

Petke said is expecting big things from freshman pitcher Gabby Merrifield.

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