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Tuscola Warriors softball team exceeds expectations

Tuscola’s softball team entered the season with just one player occupying the same position she played a year ago. You read that right Ella Boyer occupied the short stop position in 2021 and again in 2022 but everyone around the Illinois State commit was either new to the diamond or in a different position.

The Lady Warriors entered the school year with five starters returning to field but injuries in February to senior All CIC second baseman Taylor Musgrave and junior catcher Marley Good threw a wrench into the works. Oh and the departure of Kaitlyn Reifsteck to the college ranks opened up a big hole in the middle of pitching circle.

All that didn’t faze the two seniors who would show the way for the black and gold. Musgrave and Kerri Pierce led the way in preseason workouts and on the dirt resulting in yet another twenty-win season for the Warriors, and a regional championship. Pierce took residence in the circle throwing the first seven inning game of her career in a season opening win over state ranked Westville en-route to firing one hundred and fifty innings on the year. She collected the teams MVP honors while grabbing First Team All CIC accolades, and Second Team Champaign News Gazette and Decatur Herald and Review honors.

Musgrave returned from knee surgery a full four weeks ahead of schedule and quickly gave the team a boost. The second baseman made the move to the hot corner taking the field for the first time on April 15 at Meridian in a show down of

State ranked squads and the two best the CIC had to offer. She announced her presence with authority hammering a go ahead homer in the fourth frame in a 6-5 Warrior victory. Despite playing just half the games the fourth year player earned a spot on the All CIC squad as well as honorable mentions on both the News Gazette and Herald All Area teams.

The junior class was the back bone of the team boasting four starters that delivered all season long and a few key subs. Boyer was a beast at the plate taking home both the batting average and RBI awards. She hit ten homeruns, delivered forty-six RBI’s, scored forty-two runs and posted a .556 batting average while striking out just once in over a one hundred plate appearances. All that added up to a ton of hardware. She was selected First Team All State, First Team CIC, First Team NG, and First Team Herald and Review.

Isabelle Wilcox was right there with. The third year came up big in the Regional Championship win over a very good Argenta gunning down the tying run at the plate late in the game to seal the deal on the title. She earned a Second Team All State outfielder nod while also collecting All CIC and All Area honors from both the NG and Herald thanks to a .486-batting average that included five homeruns and a team best seven triples.

Makenna Fiscus stepped up behind the plate when Good was injured and caught every inning but two during the season and grabbed the squads Lunch Pail Award given to the athlete who shows up and does her job day in and day out. She showed off some power early in the season with the bat in her hand. Claire Meyer was another third year that provided some punch as a pinch hitter and will looked upon to fill a spot in the outfield and the batting order next season. Haley Downs chipped in as well scoring double-digit runs as a courtesy runner and like Meyer will be called upon to take a step up next season.

The sophomores jumped right into the mix delivering a lot of punch at the plate and solidified the defense. Emily Czerwonka earned First Team All CIC honors in her first full season on the varsity. The first basemen hit over .500 in the league and was one of the most consistent bats throughout the year leading to Second Team All Area selections in both the NG and Herald sport sections. Zoey Thomason was a Second Team All CIC performer in the outfield. She had a midseason tear in which she hit homeruns in four straight contests.

Addy Ring patrolled the outfield as well and was more than solid with the bat in her hands on the left side. She could beat out a bunt or drive one to the fence. Marissa Boyer hit three homeruns early in the season before an injury forced her to sit out. The DH returned to the batters box in May and came up big in the sectional. Catie Gibson was another second year that challenged for a spot because of her work ethic earning her the Warrior Spirit Award.

As far as newcomers go there may have been none better than Ava Boyer’s freshman campaign. She tied with big sister Ella in the homerun category belting ten of her own out of the lead off spot for the Warriors, posted a .495 batting average, delivered a team best twenty-seven extra base hits, accounted for thirty-three RBI’s, crossed the dish fifty-four times and had the top fielding percentage on defense with a .956 making just five errors on one hundred and thirteen chances at second base.

The rookie made the biggest post season haul of any first year player in program history. Boyer was a Unanimous First Team All CIC Selection, a Third Team All Stater, First Team All Area Herald and Review pick, and secured a Second Team All Area News Gazette spot. Emily Veach was another freshman that saw some time on the field, as did Carli Ochs who scored numerous runs as a courtesy runner. Allison Pettry showed some promise also garnering the Most Improved player award at the banquet.

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