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Sports

Softball: Northwestern recruit Ashley Schultz, Wolves set for a new slate

Oswego East graduated 10 seniors off sectional finalist, have new head coach

Ashley Schultz sounds OK with change.

This spring has brought a big one for Schultz, Oswego East's senior catcher. The Wolves graduated 10 seniors from last year's 26-7 team, the first in school history to reach a sectional final.

Schultz, for one, is getting used to life without big sister. Emily Schultz, the two-time Ledger Player of the Year, is now a freshman at Stanford.

"Definitely is different," said Schultz, a Northwestern recruit. "During practice, we'd usually pair up. We knew each other so well, knew our routines. It's definitely different, but it's helped me prepare for next year. She's not going to be there."

Oswego East graduated a ton of talent – but there's still a whole left for first-year head coach Sarah Davies, in her seventh year in the program.

Emily Schultz, Juvia Davis and Danielle Williams are among those who have moved on. Ashley Schultz, who hit .506 with 13 homers and 50 runs batted in last year, leads the returning group intent on maintaining the high standard that's been established.

"It's a big change. The meat of our lineup was all seniors," Schultz said. "Whether it's seniors who started last year or girls new to the varsity, we're all in it, keeping that mentality."

Schultz, going into her third varsity season, is one of several Wolves with significant varsity experience. She'll again be one of the most dangerous bats in the area.

"I feel lucky to have her," said Davies, who was varsity assistant the last two seasons. "We have high expectations for her and she has big expectations for herself."

Also back for her third varsity season is Kaili Chval. Chval, an Illinois State commit, hit .475 with 38 hits and 21 RBIs – and is a vocal leader that Davies loves.

"She is one of those rare finds that's team-first, 100 percent," Davies said. "What you see is what you get. She is loud and cheering, always looking to lift up her teammates. She obviously has great talent and great skill, but her leadership is even more important."

Junior Carly Engelhardt is back for her second varsity season, as is junior Grace Klingbeil, who pitched to a 2.78 ERA last spring in sharing duties with Emily Schultz on the mound.

Lily Dabrowski, a senior outfielder, hit .435 with 20 hits last year, and junior shortstop Mady Johnson .404 with 19 hits. Johnson was one of several underclassmen that got valuable experience and at-bats on a deep team last spring.

Now it's their time.

"We have a new slate this year," Schultz said. "Going from last year to this year, we think we can still do really well. We have the talent."

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