MUNDELEIN — When the Mundelein Stampede 18U travel softball team takes the field this fall and next season, it will do so with a slew of talent from Chicago’s north suburbs.
Stampede coach Eddie Diaz held tryouts for the 2014-15 team the second week in August and announced there will be five new players joining his squad. He will also return 10 girls from this year’s group that advanced to the United States Specialty Sports Association World Series Round of 32 in July.
“We have a handful of really good players who were on our 16U Stampede team that will be joining us for the upcoming season,” Diaz said. “It should be a nice mix of our core returning players and a handful of younger ones.”
Among them is Mundelein junior Karlee Busscher, who Diaz plans on using as a utility player because of her versatility. She was a member of the 16U Stampede team that won an Amateur Softball Association national championship last year.
“I am really looking forward to playing with a team that is all so supportive and competitive,” Busscher said. “All the girls get along so well and it’s just one big family. We have quite a few girls from Mundelein, so being able to build off that and work hard to achieve the same goals [is important].”
Amanda Diaz, Nicole Parney, Brittany Woodyard and Maria DeVito — who also attend Mundelein — will be key pieces for the Stampede.
“With a ton of talent coming back next year I know many of us are very excited,” Amanda Diaz said. “We were a younger team last year with only three girls that had to move up and play 18U.”
Though kids from Mundelein are heavily represented on the Stampede roster, the other four new players all come from different schools. Lake Zurich’s Katie Malek and Sarah Schnecker, Stevenson’s Ruby Mankus and Carmel’s Maddie DeMarco will be joining Busscher as newcomers.
“Those four girls will definitely give us even more depth,” Eddie Diaz said. “All our levels basically played an A-level schedule all summer, so the move to the next level shouldn’t be anything they haven’t seen all summer.”
Look for the Stampede to have a ton of top-level pitching when they resume play.
“The exciting part is, we could have several schools’ number one pitchers on our roster,” Eddie Diaz said. “We have Mia DiCara, who may be Carmel’s No. 1. Nicole Parney, who could be Mundelein’s No. 1. I think Katie Malek is gonna be the No. 1 at Lake Zurich.
“And then we also anticipate having Ruby Mankus [who previously played for the Vernon Hills Stingers travel program], who may be the top starter at Stevenson. So we could wind up having four schools’ top pitchers on our roster. That’s something we’re thrilled about.”