Softball: Lockport’s Weissenhofer Herald-News Player of the Year
By Randy Whalen For Sun-Times Media June 20, 2012 11:10PM
Softball player Taylor Weissenhofer, of Lockport. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 23, 2012 6:19AM
One game isn’t reflective of an entire season.
Lockport’s Taylor Weissenhofer wishes she could have her last high school softball game back. That game certainly didn’t show what the recently graduated senior could do.
Weissenhofer and her Porters teammates had another outstanding softball season, going 29-8 and tying with Class 3A third-place finisher Providence for the most victories among the large-school teams in the Joliet area.
Lockport, however, fell victim to the upset bug that was so common in the postseason. The Porters lost the Plainfield North Regional title game to Naperville North 5-3 on May 26. All three of the top seeds in the East Aurora Sectional lost that day.
While the end was disappointing, there was one word for Weissenhofer during nearly all of the rest of the year:
Because of that, she gets the nod as the 2012 Herald-News Softball Player of the Year.
In an era when the rubber was moved back and pitching isn’t nearly as commanding as it was in the past decade, Weissenhofer baffled opponents. The 5-foot-10 left-hander, who will play next season at Valparaiso, had a 22-6 record and one save. Her ERA was around 1.00 all season and she finished at 1.23. She walked 44 and struck out a whopping 272, tops in the Joliet area.
She was named to the All-SouthWest Suburban Blue team, had 10 or more strikeouts in a game 15 times on the season, and, perhaps most impressive, had nine shutouts.
They weren’t just any shutouts, either. They came against some of the best competition the state has to offer.
She blanked Providence 5-0 on March 31 with an 11-strikeout performance. Four days later she blanked Minooka 2-0 in eight innings, allowing one hit and striking out a season-high 16.
In mid-April she had 10 strikeouts against Richards, which was the No. 1 team in the Chicago area at the time, and was an out away from winning the game before falling 4-2 in eight innings. She shut out regional champion Sandburg twice.
On May 10, she had an eight-strikeout performance in a 3-1 win over Marist. That would be the last loss for the RedHawks, who went on to win their final 12 games in capturing the Class 4A state title.
The RedHawks’ opponent in the title game was Bartlett, a team Weissenhofer two-hit with nine strikeouts in a dominating 2-0 win May 19.
“It was kind of heartbreaking to watch Marist play Bartlett in the championship game,” Weissenhofer said, “especially knowing those were two teams we beat just weeks earlier. We stepped up our game and showed our capabilities against those teams.”
Weissenhofer’s final victory was also her first no-hitter of the year. It came May 22, with a 10-strikeout performance vs. host Plainfield North in the regional opener.
“The no-hitter wasn’t a goal of mine,” she said. “What was a goal was to have a low ERA and a high strikeout-to-walk ratio. I had good command of my pitches.”
Lockport coach Marissa Chovanec certainly thinks Weissenhofer was among the best she’s had in her decade as Porters coach.
“She had the most strikeouts of an individual pitcher in my 10 years,” Chovanec said. “She averaged 10 strikeouts per game. She had poise in the circle, was able to work out of many jams and was our driving force.”
As a sophomore, Weissenhofer moved up to the varsity. She went 7-2 with a 1.95 ERA in her initial varsity campaign. In her junior year, she was 10-2 with a 1.23 ERA and 111 strikeouts.
In neither season was she the Porters’ ace, which was a source of motivation.
“It made me prepare to get ready for my senior year,” Weissenhofer said. “It got me to work well and when coach Chovanec handed me the reins, I could handle the pressure.”
Her coach agreed.
“Over the course of two years it was a learning process for her,” Chovanec said. “She always had a very lively wrist and sometimes wouldn’t know where the ball was going. But she grew as a pitcher and got more control.
“I still don’t think she’s reached her potential. I think she’s going to do great at Valparaiso.”
Weissenhofer, who didn’t bat often — but packed a punch when she did with a pair of homers and six RBI in 20 at-bats — is looking forward to that next step. She had orientation at Valpo on June 12.
“I got to see the team again and it was great,” she said. “I’m so comfortable around them. I can’t wait to step on the field and start playing games with them.”