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Why she’s Coach of the Year: The 2019 award recipient managed one of the area’s most challenging schedules and a roster containing just one senior, and the results were historic. The Rockets finished 25-4 and earned their first-ever IHSA state trophy via a fourth-place finish in Class 2A, also starting the season on a 12-game win streak and pitching seven shutouts along the way.

Season highlights: “There’s a lot of them. I think the first thing, you’ve just got to give credit to all the softball players in the state not knowing if they were going to have the season or not, so props to them. Selfishly, we started the season with 100 (career) wins for me, so that was good to get the season started off that way. But then everything else kind of fell where it should’ve. We got some good wins early. We made some goals — won the conference, which was big for us. And then beating St. Joe in a regional final was huge for us. Obviously, there’s a huge rival there. Sectionals were no different. We go to Mt. Carmel twice (because of rain), just memory-makers for the girls taking a luxury bus down twice and getting to experience some things. The Paris game (in the sectional final, an 8-7 win in eight innings) was probably one of the most, if not the most, emotional game I’ve ever been part of. Just the up-and-down, two good teams really fighting for that chance to play for state, that was probably one of the most exciting games ever. And the crowd was awesome that day, too. Then super-sectionals, to go out and beat Normal U-High which has a pretty rich history in softball, to beat them by 10 was just a huge statement for us. But overall, just making it to state for the first time in school history was just awesome. The girls played awesome, and everybody did their part to get us there.”

A sporting event she needs tickets to see is ... the Women’s College World Series. I’d love to make that opportunity. If I do get the chance, I’m going.

If she wasn’t a coach, she would ... probably be traveling a lot more. Having free time, you can have the opportunities — the weekends and all that — to just go where you want to go.

Her favorite motivational tactic is ... reading different things from different coaches’ perspectives. So if they have different motivational things, I would just say learning and reading from other coaches that have been successful.

Her favorite subject to study in school was ... history, just learning about everything. And the whole social sciences because I like geography, too.

Her favorite athlete is ... Cal Ripken Jr. Between him and Ken Griffey Jr., I just enjoyed watching them as baseball players growing up, and I think they just played the game right.

Her favorite TV show is ... “Grey’s Anatomy.” My husband and I are currently toward the end of that, so that’s been fun to watch together.

If she could have dinner with any people from any time period, she would pick ... Heather Tarr — the University of Washington women’s softball coach, just to pick her brain; my grandparents — who are no longer living, but I just have a lot I’d like to tell them at this point in my life; and my assistant coaches, Matt Reed and Dave Ellars.

What she enjoys most about coaching is ... the relationships. When they graduate, just them coming back to tell me how successful they are or they’re getting married or they had a baby, it’s awesome to have those relationships with the girls. And then honestly (relationships) with the coaching staff. Coach Reed and Coach Ellars will always have that relationship. We all coach basketball as well, so that’s a cool thing. And then formerly I still contact Mark Jones from Mahomet. I’m still in contact with the volunteer assistant who’s now the head coach at Centennial, Lindy Corrigan. Just a lot of connections in the coaching world, too.

Colin Likas covers Illinois football and high school sports at The News-Gazette. He can be reached at clikas@news-gazette.com, or on Twitter at @clikasNG.

College/Prep Sports Reporter

Colin Likas covers Illinois football and high school sports at The News-Gazette. His email is clikas@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@clikasNG).

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