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Softball Player of the Year: As ace pitcher and great teammate, Ava Goettel led St. Charles North to first state title

Tom Poulin has coached and molded dozens and dozens of high school athletes in his career.

Ava Goettel, St. Charles North’s junior ace pitcher who was an essential piece to the school’s first-ever softball state title, is perhaps one of his unique ones.

And it doesn’t have much, if anything, to do with her impeccable athletic gifts in the field.

“She’s as good a teammate as we’ve ever had,” Poulin said.

The case in point is the North Stars’ meteoric rise through the state tournament.

Whether it was the sectional final win over Glenbard North, supersectional victory over Whitney Young, state semifinal win over Edwardsville or the victory over Marist to win it all, Goettel, who started all of those games, was consistent in voicing when freshman phenom pitcher Paige Murray should replace her to finish the job as closer.

Never mind that Goettel carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning against defending Class 4A state champion Marist. What was best for her team in the most crucial of moments superseded everything else.

“Exactly. Exactly,” Poulin said. “I’ve never had anyone like that.”

Goettel went 15-2 with a 2.24 ERA and had 106 strikeouts in 110 innings.

Considering her unmatched postseason in the circle, Goettel is the 2022 Kane County Chronicle Softball Player of the Year.

“I just think it’s important to know that we had a great team,” Goettel said. “We all got along. There was never any drama. We all played for each other every single pitch. That’s really why we went far. We really cared about one another.”

St. Charles North's Ava Goettel delivers a pitch to Chicago Marist in the Class 4A softball state championship on Saturday, June 11, 2022 at the Louisville Slugger Complex in Peoria.

St. Charles North’s Ava Goettel delivers a pitch to Chicago Marist in the Class 4A softball state championship on Saturday, June 11, 2022 at the Louisville Slugger Complex in Peoria. (Scott Anderson/)

The road to reach those heights can be traced to the final four games of the North Stars’ season in 2020. St. Charles North lost to Lincoln-Way Central in the supersectional.

“I was pitching with a stress fracture in my arm,” Goettel said. “I was at the point where we were going so far that I just kind of dealt with the pain and I wanted to keep pitching. … After high school, I was shut down my whole summer season, my whole fall season. I played one tournament in Rosemont with my travel team and then I was back for high school.

“I wasn’t allowed to even throw [while recuperating]. They wanted to completely shut me down so that the stress fracture had time to heal and it would be less likely to flare up again. … Tried to come back, came back too early, then I was really upset after that because all I wanted to do was get back and pitch. It was really hard to shut myself down again.”

Murray’s emergence as a prominent arm for the North Stars rotation helped buy time for Goettel, who worked to regain stamina and did not have to put on as much mileage in the circle.

“We got very lucky [with Murray],” Goettel said. “It was so nice to have another super strong pitcher. … Being able to take games off, take breaks and be able to ice my arm played a major factor in it.”

Luckily for Goettel, the stress fracture wasn’t a prominent force during the state run.

“After every game, I was going back and icing my arm in the hotel room and just keeping up with it,” Goettel said.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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