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Illinois State recruit Marissa Moffett takes care of business in third-place game for Oswego. ‘Heart of this team.’

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PEORIA — It’s just not in her personality for Oswego’s Marissa Moffett to dwell on a loss.

As a result, the Illinois State-bound senior second baseman headed into the final game of her high school career by looking back Saturday to the very beginning of her days as a Panther.

“I had a rough start with softball as a freshman,” she said. “Ever since then, it has gotten better and better. I think the thing I’m going to miss the most is just how super supportive everybody is.

“Everybody is always rooting for each other on this team.”

Moffett gave Oswego fans a lot to root for, coming up with three hits and scoring three runs in a 12-7 win over Mundelein in the Class 4A third-place game at Louisville Slugger Sports Complex.

Finishing her fourth season as the program’s career leader in runs scored, Moffett went 3-for-3 with a walk Saturday as the Panthers (29-10) captured their first state trophy in softball.

Sophomore pitcher Jaelynn Anthony (16-5) added three RBIs, while senior outfielder Kaylee LaChappell had three hits and two RBIs. Moffett’s RBI single led an eight-run, nine-hit third inning.

For Moffett, nothing changed after a 2-1 loss to St. Charles North in Friday’s state semifinals.

Oswego’s Kaylee LaChappell (11) reacts after reaching second base against Mundelein during the Class 4A third-place game at Louisville Slugger Sports Complex in Peoria on Saturday, June 8, 2024. (Rob Dicker / The Beacon-News)

“We’re already here, and whether we finished first or fourth, I didn’t care,” Moffett said, meeting the moment with poise and perspective beyond her years. “We already made history as a team.

“I just knew I was going to go out with a bang. I had to do whatever I could to make myself happy.”

Fittingly, the final RBI of Moffett’s career knocked in LaChappell, a neighbor and her best friend since kindergarten.

“I’ve played with her since forever,” LaChappell said. “She’s a great person, always smiling. She’s just amazing — someone who always has a great attitude and is always picking me up.”

The two have a natural rapport, with LaChappell leading off and Moffett following her in the order.

Oswego's Savannah Page (1) catches a deep fly in the outfield. Oswego defeated Mundelein 12-7 in the Class 4A third-place game at Louisville Slugger Sports Complex in Peoria.(Rob Dicker / Daily Southtown)
Oswego’s Kaylee LaChappell (11) reacts after reaching second base against Mundelein during the Class 4A third-place game at Louisville Slugger Sports Complex in Peoria on Saturday, June 8, 2024. (Rob Dicker / The Beacon-News)

“Whenever Kaylee gets on, my job is really to get her to second or third or home,” Moffett said. “Base hit, double, whatever it takes. I’m not a home-run hitter. Today was the last of everything.

“I wanted to make it very meaningful.”

Moffett played all 39 games, finishing with a batting average of .350 with 37 runs and 28 RBIs. Her open, engaging style made her a natural leader for a team that hadn’t won a regional in 37 years.

”She’s a silent leader,” Oswego coach Paul Netzel said of Moffett. “She just instills in the other girls the confidence and awareness they could do this.”

Moffett, who started all four years on varsity in softball, also played volleyball as a freshman and sophomore. In that sport, she was either the libero or a defensive specialist.

Although volleyball allowed Moffett to improve her fitness, conditioning and athleticism, she dropped the sport after her sophomore year to concentrate on her college recruiting.

Oswego's Marissa Moffett (5) hits a RBI single and celebrates with first base coach Hailey Morland. Oswego defeated Mundelein 12-7 in the Class 4A third-place game at Louisville Slugger Sports Complex in Peoria.(Rob Dicker / Daily Southtown)
Oswego’s Marissa Moffett (5) celebrates after hitting an RBI single against Mundelein during the Class 4A third-place game at Louisville Slugger Sports Complex in Peoria on Saturday, June 8, 2024. (Rob Dicker / The Beacon-News)

Junior third baseman Aubriella Garza, a Northern Illinois commit who also pitched 2 2/3 innings of relief Saturday, said Moffett was very inviting to the younger players.

“She’s the heart of this team,” Garza said. “Even if she has a bad at-bat, she comes back happy and positive afterward. If she makes an error, she comes back on the field.”

Moffett had to give up her orientation at Illinois State to play in the state finals but didn’t regret it.

“Once a Panther, always a Panther,” she said. “We only lost two seniors last year. I remember during open gym, just looking around and thinking, ‘We are really good.’

“By the beginning of the year, I just knew.”

Patrick Z. McGavin is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News.

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