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Vote: CSM Athletes of the Week, March 25-31, 2024

Updated: Apr 3

The theme of last week in Central Illinois high school sports was clear, and it was no-hitters. Four no-no’s were tossed between baseball and softball games involving area teams with most of them coming close to a perfect game. 

Other standout performances were had by many athletes, including several CSM Spring Athletes of the Week nominees hailing from smaller schools. 

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The following athletes are our nominees for CSM Spring Athletes of the Week with information on their standout performances.

UPDATE: Morton's AJ Davis and Normal U-High's Maggie Stadler won voting for CSM SPring Athletes of the Week. Voting closed at 8 PM Wednesday.

Boys Athlete of the Week nominees

Dominic Ricconi, El Paso-Gridley baseball

Ricconi swung a big bat for the Titans as they picked up a pair of wins to move to 4-0 on the season. The junior catcher went a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate in a 15-2 win over Pontiac on Wednesday, including a three-run homer and an RBI single. He upped the ante even further in an 11-9 win over Putnam County on Friday, contributing six RBIs on two hits, including a three-run double in the sixth inning that helped secure an El Paso-Gridley victory. 

Drew Kieser, Brimfield/Elmwood baseball

Kieser accomplished one of the rarest feats in baseball, throwing a no-hitter against a strong Illini Bluffs team on Thursday in a 3-0 Indians win. The senior struck out eight and walked three during his magical game, throwing 62 of his 95 pitches for strikes. With the win, Kieser moves to 3-0 on the mound this year with 22 strikeouts in 17 innings with four earned runs allowed. On Sunday, Kieser committed to play at Mesa Community College.

Noah Smith, Peoria Christian boys track and field

Smith had a week full of success, winning a total of three field events in a pair of meets. The senior thrower swept the throwing events at Monmouth United’s Red Storm Invite on Thursday, winning the discus with a personal-best 127 feet, 2.5 inches mark. There, he won the first of two titles in the shot put with a mark of 42 feet, 6.25 inches and followed it up with a toss of 42 feet, 11 inches to win at the Dunlap Open on Saturday. He also took a second-place finish in the discus at Dunlap as well. 

 A.J. Davis, Morton baseball

Davis stood out on both sides of the ball for the Potters in four wins last week. Most notably, he pitched two innings in a no-hitter for the Potters, combining with Cameron Crawford and Jack Mitchell for the feat in a 7-0 win over Pearl City on Saturday. At the plate, Davis contributed a pair of runs and RBIs in 15-1 win over Macomb on Wednesday, as well as three hits and two RBIs in a 6-3 win over previously undefeated McHenry on Saturday. 

Daniel Lin, Dunlap boys tennis

Lin was responsible for multiple wins on the court for the Eagles, including two that proved big in a 6-5 Dunlap win over reigning Class 1A state runner-up Lisle Benet on Tuesday. Lin won 8-2 in single against Benet’s Noah McDonnell and joined forces with Harmin Patel to win 8-3 in doubles. He added a convincing 6-0, 6-0 win against Limestone – a match that Dunlap won 9-0 – on Thursday. 

Girls Athlete of the Week nominees

Maggie Stadler, Normal U-High softball

Stadler crafted multiple gems in the circle last week, but none bigger than a no-hitter on Friday against LaSalle-Peru, where she struck out 14 and walked one, using 101 pitches to reach the achievement. Additionally, she earned the win in an 8-5 win over Williamsville on Monday, striking out seven in 3.1 innings of relief to go with a pair of hits and RBIs. Stadler also led her team to a win in its Central State Eight Conference opener against Rochester, throwing a complete game with 11 strikeouts and allowing just two unearned runs. 

Zoe Lindahl, Pekin softball

Lindahl joined the no-hitter club on Saturday with a dominating pitching performance in a 16-0 win over Arthur Christian on Saturday. The Dragons hurler struck out 11 and was one walk away from a perfect game in the contest which ended after five innings due to the mercy rule. Later that day, she pitched well out of the bullpen with a scoreless three innings of work in an 8-4 win over St. Joseph-Ogden and held Champaign Centennial to one run in a four-inning start on Friday. 

Addison Lefler, Richwoods girls soccer

Lefler, a junior midfielder for Richwoods, helped keep the 7-0-1 Knights on the right track with a pair of wins at the Orion Invite on Saturday. She struck for two goals in a 3-1 win over Dixon and added a goal and an assist in a 5-0 win over host Orion/Sherrard. 

Kaidance Till, Metamora softball

The Ole Miss commit had another big week for the Redbirds, who moved to 7-1 after four recent games. The junior infielder kicked off the week with three hits, including a home run, and two RBIs in a 7-2 win over Mason (OH) at a tournament in Tennessee. Later on the trip, she went 4-for-4 with three RBIs and three doubles, including a go-ahead two run two-bagger in a 5-3 win over Munster (IN) on Tuesday. She added an RBI single on Wednesday and capped off her week by going 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two stolen bases in a 7-4 win against Streator on Thursday.

Olivia Avalos, Tremont softball

Avalos was a doubles and RBI machine for the Turks in a busy week where they went 3-3-1. In Tremont’s three games at the Rantoul Invite on Saturday, the Tremont infielder went a combined 6-for-10 with six runs, four RBIs and three doubles. She also stood out in a Friday contest against Downers Grove South, hitting three doubles while bringing in three runs and scoring twice. The senior added another 3-hit game against Sardis (AL) on Monday, scoring three runs and recording an RBI. 

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