With great success comes great rewards. Sterling High School's softball success has brought with it some high honors for the Golden Warriors.
Senior pitcher/third baseman Stephanie Kester and junior shortstop Karlie Mellott were named first team all-state in Class 3A by the Illinois Coaches Association. Senior third baseman/pitcher Priscilla Aponte was named to the second team.
The trio helped Sterling finished fourth in its first state tournament appearance.
"It's hard to believe that out of all the people in 3A that I'm one of the chosen ones," Kester said. "It's a nice way to end my career. Being on the best in 3A, I couldn't ask for more."
Kester was 24-5 with a 2.13 ERA and 110 strikeouts in 167 2/3 innings in the circle for the Warriors. She was also a force with the bat, hitting .438 with 36 RBIs.
Mellott, who has already verbally committed to Purdue, where she plans to go into engineering, hit .587, slugged ..971, scored 55 runs, drove in 34 and had 24 extra-base hits as the Warriors' leadoff hitter who was also a defensive star.
"Having that many players have all-state honors says a lot about our team," Mellott said. "It's a milestone, and it makes me want to keep getting better."
Mellott couldn't be happier with the direction her young life is taking. All the hard work in school and on her game is paying off.
She credited her travel team coach, Pat Morris of the Illinois Chill out of Chicago, and cousins Robin and Sarah Martz – former Eastland High School stars – and their father Tom, for their influence on her softball career. Mellott's been to tournaments across the country, including California, Colorado and Pennsylvania.
"It's been a lot of work in the making," she said. "Sometimes, it's been stressful. But, I'm going to play college softball. That's any softball player's dream. It's so rewarding."
Being named all-state sends Kester, who will continue her career at Sauk Valley Community College, into college on a high note.
"It gives me more confidence. Now, I have to keep working to show what I'm made of," she said.
Kester will be joining a Sauk program coming off a trip to nationals.
"We should have a good year next year," she said. "They've been doing well the last couple years. Hopefully, I can help the team do even better."
Best of the best
Stephanie Kester: (Pitching) 24-5, 2,13 ERA, 110 SO, 167 2/3 IP; (hitting) .438 average, 36 RBI
Karlie Mellott: .587 average, .971 slugging percentage, 55 runs, 34 RBI, 24 extra-base hits