O'Fallon Progress

Freshman is top OTHS softball pitcher and a leading hitter

This week’s top athlete has made it a family affair in the Juenger household. After older brother Hayden earned the award recently for his exploits on the baseball diamond, younger sister Hayleigh came up big for the Lady Panther softball team, putting her on equal footing with her sibling.

Hayleigh, 15-year-old freshman daughter of Shannon and Shannon Juenger, has emerged as one of the key players for the OTHS softball squad as evidenced by her recent outings in Southwestern Conference games against Collinsville and Alton.

In both contests, the Panther standout was the pitcher of record, improving her season mark to 9-5 with the two victories — no small accomplishment for a hurler in her first year of high school softball.

“Hayleigh has improved every game, especially on the mental side,” said O’Fallon varsity coach Lauren Muniz. “Both in the batter’s box and on the mound, she was in tough pressure situations against both Collinsville and Alton. She came up with key strikeouts at crucial times to preserve the win.”

Juenger’s statistics reflect her positive contributions to the Lady Panthers’ cause. Her 9-5 mark in the pitcher’s circle has been forged by a 2.15 ERA. Offensively, she is one of the team leaders with a .364 batting average. She held the potent Kahoks line-up to three runs while striking out seven. Against Alton, Juenger went 3-for-4 at the plate and fanned six Redbird batters en route to a complete game 1-hitter.

“Although just beginning her high school career, Hayleigh has a ton of potential,” Muniz added. “I have been excited to watch her progress during this season and look forward to watching her progress during her remaining years in the program.”

“I started playing softball when I was about five,” said the freshman hurler. “My parents do everything to help me be successful, as well as my coaches and trainers who dedicate so much time to their athletes. I’ve been blessed with a skill that I work to better daily.

“My end goal is to play collegiate level softball. So, I work hard on and off the field to be a better athlete, student and person in general. I always have a ‘Go get ’em’ attitude.”