Marquette Academy celebrates historic double state titles in softball, baseball
OTTAWA – It hadn’t happened in the state since 1986, but Marquette Academy here made its mark on Illinois Elementary School Association history when its junior high boys baseball team won the Class 1A state championship on Sept. 29, just seven days after the school’s junior high girls softball team had brought home its own state title.
“Just when you thought things couldn’t get any more exciting,” said Brooke Rick, principal, in opening a joyful, spirit-filled celebration that packed the elementary school gym on Oct. 4. “Our softball team becomes state champions, we celebrate homecoming, and then — lo and behold — our baseball team does the same thing. How about that?”
The assembly brought together students from kindergarten through eighth grade as well as team members, coaches, parents, grandparents, fans, and city officials. Cheerleaders from Marquette Academy high school were present to further fire up the already enthusiastic crowd.
Pointing to an awards table that included the regional, sectional, and state championship plaques earned by both teams, Father David Kipfer congratulated the players and coaches on behalf of the entire Ottawa Catholic Community as well as Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, and Msgr. Philip Halfacre, vicar of the Ottawa Vicariate.
A changeable sign outside nearby St. Columba Church acknowledged the teams’ “double dose of domination.”
A BRIGHT PRESENT . . . AND FUTURE
The Marquette Academy junior high girls softball team won the IESA Class 1A state title with a come-from-behind 6-3 win over Casey Westfield on Sept. 22 at Champion Field in Normal. The Lady Knights finished their historic season with a record of 22 wins and just one loss.
But it turned out that title was a lightning bolt soon followed by the thunder of another IESA Class 1A state championship earned Sept. 29 by the school’s junior high boys baseball team, which rolled to a 10-0 title win over Normal Metcalf at Eastside Centre in East Peoria. The Knights finished the season with a record of 18 wins and one loss.
“It’s all about these guys right here,” said Brad Waldron, baseball head coach, at the Oct. 4 assembly. Noting the rare accomplishment of having both the girls and boys teams earn state titles, Waldron said the teams are filled with talent that points to “a bright future.”
A congratulatory proclamation from the Ottawa City Council read at the assembly by Commissioner Wayne Eichelkraut acknowledged “with pride and appreciation” not only the teams’ outstanding performances but how the athletes exemplified “the sportsmanship and Christian values of the Academy.”
Principal Rick echoed that sentiment, thanking the teams for how they represented themselves, their school, and their community. She added that the accomplishment will be recognized by signs at all main entrances to Ottawa.
“It didn’t matter who had the game-winning hit or a stolen base, you worked as a team,” said Rick. You did it with class and you did it with style. And the best part is this is just the beginning of the year!”
Softball team members include Ella Biggins, Sara Duchon, Sophia Flavin, Katie Hardin, Gabby Hortega, Lindsey Kaufmann, Kaylee Killelea, Lauren Machetta, Eva McCallum, Darby Morganflash, Emma Rinearson, Nora Rinearson, and Abbey Thumm. Coaches are Brad Oakes (head coach), Steve Hortega, Curt Johnson, Steve Killelea, and Brian McCallum.
Baseball team members include Gabe Almeda, Tom Durdan, Caden Eller, Alex Graham, Andrew Hamm, Daniel Hoffman, Henry McGrath, Peter McGrath, Charlie Mullen, Logan Nelson, Primo Pattelli, Aidan Thompson, Taylor Waldron, and Carson Zellers. Coaches are Brad Waldron (head coach), Brian Bressner, Matt Nelson, and Mike Graham.
EDITOR’S NOTE: An album of photos from the celebration assembly has been posted to The Catholic Post’s site on Facebook.