Swart sets school mark for career hits

By HARLEY TOMLINSON

The program’s career hits leader, Kankakee Valley senior Maddie Swart played the shortstop position this spring. She will likely move into that position when she joins the Purdue University-Fort Wayne women’s softball team this fall.

WHEATFIELD — Maddie Swart will get to represent Kankakee Valley one last time before setting her sights on Fort Wayne this summer.

Swart, the Kougars’ hits leader the past four years at 209, which ranks No. 4 among state career leaders, will compete in the Indiana Coaches Girls Softball Association North/South softball classic on June 21-22. The three-game series will be held at Indiana University’s softball complex in Bloomington.

A Purdue University-Fort Wayne recruit, Swart will likely play an infield position for the North squad. She will be joined on the roster by Lexi Benko of Chesterton and Jenna Towle and Olivia Peterson of Lake Central.

Swart played with Benko and Towle on the Indiana Dreams’ summer softball team. Benko has signed to play college ball at Indiana State and Towle will pitch at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Peterson, with whom Swart played alongside with the Chicago Bandits’ softball team, will play collegiately at the University of Minnesota.

Swart predicts she will see many former summer ball teammates and opponents at the North/South series.

“Mariah Grant, who will be with me at Purdue-Fort Wayne, will be on the south team,” Swart said. Grant played for New Albany in southern Indiana.

A career .466 hitter, Swart was named second-team all-state in Class 4A this spring. She finished with 151 runs scored, 89 RBIs, 41 doubles and 14 triples in her career.

This spring, Swart finished below .400 (.367) for the first time in her prep career, finishing with 33 hits to rank second on the team behind junior Madey Flick (39 hits).

“I wish my batting average was better,” she said. “But I was truly getting my slapping and hitting down, so I was happy with that. And I got to play my actual position at shortstop.”

Swart, who was recruited to play the shortstop position at PU-FW, was known for her slap hitting through the first three seasons before working to drive the ball more this spring.

The Kougars finished below .500 for the first time in Swart’s four-year career, going 13-14. KV went 77-20 in Swart’s first three seasons.

“It was a rough season, but I’m happy with the way we left KV softball,” Swart said. “My first two years, we finished as state runners-up (in Class 3A) and we came up just a little short last year.

“Coming in as freshmen and sophomores and going as far as we did and getting that experience as being one of the best teams was great.”

The Kougars lost the services of three seniors this spring, including Swart, Emma Sark and Kaylee Barrett. The trio are currently teammates on the Indiana Dreams team.

“It will be so weird not having them by my side; not being able to talk with them or rant about something with them,” Swart said. “I’m really going to miss them. But I know they’re going to have great careers in college.”

Sark will play collegiately at Marian University in Indianapolis, whose roster features former KV all-state pitcher Emma Maple. Barrett, who finished as the program’s career home run leader with 27, will play for the Sycamores at Indiana State next season.