WCIA — Another local player will suit up for the Illinois softball team next season after Clifton native Tonya Faulkner was officially added to the roster on Wednesday. Faulkner spent the last two years playing at Danville Area Community College after graduating from Bishop McNamara in Kankakee. She transferred to the private school after spending her freshman year of high school at Clifton.
“Playing at the highest level for softball has always been a huge dream of mine,” Faulkner said in a statement. “When that dream became reality of being able to play at The University of Illinois I was filled with so much excitement. Illinois has been a part of my family for so long being it was so close to home, I knew as soon as I stepped on campus I wanted it to become my new home-away-from-home. The family atmosphere not only on campus but within the athletic community as a whole was something I have never experienced before, everyone supports each other and is always there to cheer each other on. I cannot wait to officially be a part of the Illini family and live out my dream of playing softball. Most importantly being able to make my family proud and give back just a little for everything they have done for me.”
Faulkner hit .318 in nine games in her COVID-19 shortened sophomore season this spring. As a freshman, she started 46 games, hitting .348 with 33 RBI. She joins former Bishop Mac teammate Shelby Stauffenberg on the Illini, along with Jaelyn Vickery, who also went to Bishop Mac. Other area players on the Illini roster include Lakyn Wagoner (Sacred Heart-Griffin), Jesse Damery (Meridian),