By Mark Gregory
All teams, especially the good ones, need solid leadership to truly be successful.
That is exactly what Plainfield East has.
The Bengals have a trio of seniors who among them have 11 years of varsity experience and have paced the team to a successful opening to the 2017 season.
Bianca Vozenilek, Hannah Kalnicky, and Peyton Loesch all are key contributors for East this year and in the past.
Vozenilek and Kalnicky have each been on varsity for four years, while Loesch is a three-year varsity player.
Vozenilek, the Southwest Prairie Conference Most Valuable Player last season, already holds East records for strikeouts in a game, strikeouts in a career, wins and earned run average.
Kalnicky holds records in hits, RBI, and career home runs. She is the player coach Chris Morris calls “probably the best overall hitter that our program has ever had.”
All Loesch has done in her three seasons on varsity is post a career batting average close to .400 and play a solid defensive first base for the club.
“This is a great group of girls,” Loesch said. “Everyone is so talented and we are all working so hard. I couldn’t ask for a better team. We have been playing well and I hope we keep playing this well all the way through.”
Kalnicky said what makes the seniors strong has been their ability to adapt.
“The fact that we have been together so long is really nice,” she said. “I feel it has really given us an opportunity to grow has a team. We just keep adding new girls and they keep meshing in and our chemistry is really good.
“The fact that we have been able to grow and get better each year makes us well known.”
Part of the Bengals’ success is that the team is not only close on the field, but off as well.
“I love this team,” Vozenilek said. “Most of the team is all my best friends and it is nice to know that they all have my back on the field and off the field.”
Morris said that having the trio this year has made his job easier because the seniors handle some problems before it gets to him.
“Early in the season if there are players that are not following protocol and not doing things the way we like to do them, they pull the kids aside and tell them to do it the right way,” he said. “They have been good with that. They have done a great job for us and continue to do a great job. They have been great right from the get go and they have continued to improve all the time.”
While the group already has its place in Plainfield East history, there is more to accomplish in their final season.
“We just want to keep playing hard and not getting too far out ahead of ourselves and just working toward the playoffs and making a far run in the playoffs and staying tough,” Kalnicky said.
“I am excited for what is yet to come,” added Vozenilek. “We are going to keep a good head on our shoulders and keep going forward.”