Monthly Archives: March 2012

Boys Baseball: Clutch Hitting Propels Benet Past Naperville North

Benet coach Scott Lawler noted that his team didn’t seem defeated in the aftermath of the Redwings’ heart-breaking loss to St. Laurence on Friday

“We walked away yesterday and our heads weren’t low. They knew they battled a great team and got beat. I was hoping it would translate into the next day,” said Lawler.

And it did. The Redwings bounced back with a 6-4 victory over visiting Naperville North on Saturday in Lisle.

“Yesterday was a tough loss, St. Laurence is a really good team. It was hard to lose it in the seventh like that, and I’m real proud of how we came out there today and fought all the way through,” said Benet third baseman Sam Santa Maria. “We didn’t let yesterday bring us down. For that reason, it was a big win.”

A day after blowing the lead in the seventh inning, the Redwings had to hold off a late rally from Naperville North.

Benet led 6-2 going in to the seventh, but RBI singles by Huskies first baseman Alex Moss and Huskies catcher Tyler Hogan cut the Redwings’ lead to 6-4.

The Huskies then loaded the bases with two outs, but reliever Patrick McInerney struck out Huskies designated hitter Pat Mollo to end the game.

“Mac [McInerney] hadn’t pitched in a week. He’s a competitor, so I knew he would do as best as he could, but it was tough,” said Lawler. “He got the out though.”

The Redwings’ offense consistently came through in the clutch on Saturday. Five of the team’s six runs were scored with two outs.

After two outs were recorded in the first inning, back-to-back RBI doubles by McInerney and right fielder Andrew Mogni gave the Redwings an early 2-0 lead.

The Redwings (5-3) started a three-run rally in the fifth inning with two outs and the bases empty.

A single by Billy Tumpane, back-to-back RBI doubles by Chris Whelan and Chris Stout and an RBI single by Santa Maria gave the Redwings a 6-1 lead.

The Huskies (3-5) were led on offense by second baseman Nick Solak, who went went 2-for-2 with two walks and a triple. The junior went 3-for-3 on Friday and has reached base in seven straight plate appearances.

“He’s [Solak] doing all the right things offensively and he’s doing all the right things defensively,” said Naperville North coach Carl Hunckler. “He plays the game hard, and we love to see it. He’s a great role model for everyone else on this team.”

Saturday’s game wrapped up a five-game week for Benet. The Redwings went 4-1 and Lawler said he learned a lot about his team over its spring break stretch.

“Every game we came in and competed. We jumped up on some teams, we came from behind, had to hold off some rallies,” said Lawler. “We got tested this week in every way, and we lost. We saw what our team is made of by bouncing back.”

I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times, Naperville Sun and yourseason.com. It appears here.

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Boys Baseball: Colin Ash Tosses No-Hitter As Naperville North Beats Downers South

Despite morning storms and a forecast for more rain in the afternoon, Naperville North pitcher Colin Ash was determined to take the mound on Friday against Downers Grove South.

“I went to bed thinking I was going to play. We were going to play no matter what. If I had to go out there with a fine-toothed comb and do the grass myself, we were going to play,” said Ash.

Luckily for Ash, the skies cleared and the right-handed junior turned in the best pitching performance of his life. Ash tossed a no-hitter and picked up his first career varsity win as the Huskies defeated the visiting Mustangs 10-0 in five innings.

“I was just trying to let it all go and have fun. I might never experience this again, so I just wanted to live in the moment,” said Ash, who struck out three batters while allowing three walks.

Naperville North (3-4) coach Carl Hunckler said that the 5’9” Ash stood out to the coaching staff during the preseason.

“We watched him throughout the preseason and were very impressed with his speed and his mental approach to the game,” said Hunckler. “He’s got a hard breaking ball so we think he’s going to be a great player for us.”

Ash pitched most of the game with a big lead after the Huskies put nine runs on the board in the first inning. North sent 14 batters to the plate and collected eight hits in the opening frame.

Ash contributed on offense with a RBI single in the first inning. Conner Adamski, Pat Mollo and Alex Moss also had RBI singles in the inning.

Mike Laurenzo drove in a run on a sacrifice fly and Nick Solak drove in two runs with a triple to deep right-center field.

Solak led the Huskies on offense, going 3-for-3 with two triples, two RBI and three runs scored. Eight of the Huskies’ nine batters recorded a hit.

“We came out swinging, that’s for sure,” said Solak, who had two hits in the first inning. “Our offense has been a little slow up to this point, but the first inning we really came out there swinging and hopefully we can take that into next game and the rest of the season.”

The Huskies snapped a three-game losing streak with the win. North had struggled offensively during the streak so the Huskies’ first inning outburst was a welcome sight for Hunckler.

“We haven’t played anywhere near our expectations this season, we’ve had a bit of feast or famine on offense” said Hunckler. “That was really nice for us to get things going offensively. I was especially pleased with how hard we hit the ball today and our approach at the plate.”

I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times, Naperville Sun and yourseason.com. It appears here.

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Boys Baseball: Rajewski Tosses Shutout As Benet Beats Waubonsie Valley

Going into Thursday’s game against Waubonsie Valley, Benet starting pitcher Jordan Rajewski just wanted to keep his team in the game.

The right-handed junior did that and more, tossing a complete game shutout as the Redwings defeated the visiting Warriors 8-0.

“I just wanted to hold them to low runs, and set up the next guy,” said Rajewski. “I had no idea I’d go that many innings, I just wanted to keep the game close.”

Rajewski scattered seven hits and one walk over seven innings while striking out two batters. The junior was able to keep the Warriors off balance by mixing up his pitches.

“I started off throwing off-speed, and got them out in front. Then I just tried to paint the outside with fastballs,” said Rajewski. “I really had them guessing.”

Rajewski was able to work out of some first inning trouble. Waubonsie Valley had runners on second and third with just one out after Warriors catcher Tyler Josupait doubled to right field. However, Rajewski struck out Warriors third baseman James Palasz and got Warriors outfielder Zac Steele to line out to Benet second baseman Chris Stout to end the inning unscathed.

Benet coach Scott Lawler thought his pitcher’s first inning escape set the tone for the rest of the game.

“I think what really set him [Rajewski] apart was that first inning. He got out of the jam, and I think that was a big statement inning for him right there,” said Lawler.

In the second inning, the bottom of Benet’s lineup produced the Redwings’ first two runs.

No. 8 hitter Greg Arend reached base on an infield error, allowing Andrew Mogni to score the game’s first run. No. 9 hitter Billy Tumpane then drove in No. 7 hitter Joe Boyle on a sacrifice fly to center field.

Benet (4-2) pulled away with a six-run fifth inning. Stout capped off the offensive explosion with a single to right field that drove in Arend and Tumpane and put Benet up 8-0. Stout had three hits and two RBIs to lead the Redwings on offense.

“I’ve been up in big spots in a couple straight games and I haven’t really come through. I’m just getting more confident, and I’m looking to be more aggressive at the plate,” said Stout. “In the fifth, I stayed back on a first-pitch curveball and got the hit.”

Waubonsie Valley (2-2) coach Dan Fezzuoglio said his team had too many mental breakdowns on Thursday.

“We just can’t have them. They’re a good team, and credit to them for swinging the bats, but we have to do a better job from a mental standpoint to keep us in games,” said Fezzuoglio.

Lawler believes his team has taken on the right attitude this season and that it has led to early success.

“They’re hardworking kids. I think there are some high school teams out there that probably could make a few mistakes and still win. But we can’t, and the kids know that. We have to play well to win,” said Lawler.

“We’re scrappy, and I love the kids.”

I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times, Naperville Sun, Aurora Beacon and yourseason.com. It appears here.

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Girls Soccer: Quincy Kellett Scores 4 Goals As Rosary Records 5th Shutout Of The Season

Rosary forward Quincy Kellett scored four goals in the Royals’ 8-0 victory over visiting Yorkville on Wednesday, but all the freshman could talk about was her team’s defense and its fifth shutout of the season.

“It all starts with our defense, they’ve been playing really well lately,” said Kellett, who has scored seven goals this season. “Our defense was a big help in all of our goals today.”

Goalie Lauren Frasca recorded her fifth clean sheet in as many games. The Royals dominated possession of the ball and Yorkville only got off one shot in the game. Frasca’s lone save came with just 15 seconds left in the second half.

“We want to make it so that Frasca doesn’t have to touch the ball,” said Rosary coach Kristy Kane. “We have such strong defense and we play with the ball primarily on the other team’s end. Our defense is just really smart and doesn’t take chances.”

The Royals have yet to give up a goal this season, outscoring their opponents 16-0 over five games.

“My defense has been working so well, all the way from the new freshmen to the returning seniors,” said Frasca. “We connect so well on the back and we’ve just been so clean.”

Midfielder Molly Piech scored the Royals’ first goal eight minutes into the first half unassisted from ten yards out. The junior added another goal and an assist in the second half.

“Molly is playing much better as she goes on. She’s growing and her game is changing, and that’s awesome to see,” said Kane.

A perfect pass from midfielder Megan Fitzpatrick set up Kellett’s first goal of the game with five minutes left in the first half.

Rosary led 2-0 at halftime, and then broke through for six goals in the second half. Kellett and Piech accounted for six of the Royals’ eight goals while Alexandra Bode and Elizabeth Kelley each scored one goal for Rosary.

Frasca said the Royals were able to control the game with their smooth and accurate passing.

“We were passing it around very well. We just had a great flow from the defense to the midfield to the forwards,” said Frasca. “I thought we kept possession really well and made it easy on ourselves.”

I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times, Aurora Beacon and yourseason.com. It appears here.

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Boys Baseball: Waubonsie Valley Rides Palasz’s Strong Outing To Victory Over West Aurora

Behind six strong innings from pitcher James Palasz, Waubonsie Valley earned its first victory of the season on Monday, defeating visiting West Aurora 6-1.

It was bounce-back game for the Warriors, who were no-hit by York’s Greg Castello in the team’s season opener on Saturday.

“After getting no-hit against York on Saturday against a good pitcher, we really needed to have a good solid team win, and that’s what this one was for sure,” said Waubonsie Valley coach Dan Fezzuoglio.

Palasz picked up the win after allowing just three hits and one run over six innings. The right-handed senior struck out five hitters while walking three.

“It was a cold day, definitely a pitcher’s day, not a hitter’s day,” said Palasz. “I just wanted to throw strikes, and I think I did a good job of it.”

Fezzuoglio said Palasz gave the Warriors exactly what the team needed.

“We look at James as one of our leads on the mound and we think our strength this year is pitching,” said Fezzuoglio. “That’s what we need out of a senior who had experience on the mound last year.”

After failing to produce in the season opener, the Warriors’ offense struck early on Monday, scoring three runs in the first inning.

Zac Steele’s ground-out to second base brought home Mitch Stefani for the Warriors’ first run. Mitch Gill and Troy Fumagalli both added RBI singles later in the inning and the Warriors led 3-0.

“It was really important for us to get on the board early,” said Fezzuoglio. “On a cold day like today, we wanted to put pressure on the defense and see if we could scratch a few runs across the plate.”

The Warriors (1-1) added three insurance runs later in the game. In the fourth inning, Tyler Hasper’s sacrifice fly brought home Fumagalli and Sean Grannan scored on a throwing error. In the sixth inning, C.J. Lee’s single drove in Hasper.

Ryan Vasicek relieved Palasz and struck out one batter in a perfect seventh inning.

West Aurora pitcher Tanner Reichardt gave up five runs and seven hits over six innings. The Blackhawks (1-2) struggled on defense, committing five errors.

Adam Lipscomb, Richie Renner and Alex Pope were responsible for the Blackhawks’ three hits.

Palasz believes Monday’s win will be the first of many for the Warriors this season.

“I don’t think people expect a lot from us this year, that’s the vibe around the city. But, we’re going to surprise some people,” said Palasz. “We’ve got a good squad. We’ve got a lot of juniors stepping up and our senior leadership is very good.”

I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times, Aurora Beacon and yourseason.com. It appears here.

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Girls Soccer: Geneva Recovers From Slow Start, Defeats West Aurora 6-0

Geneva midfielders Catherine Allon and Michaela Loebel each scored a pair of goals as the Vikings defeated West Aurora 6-0 in Aurora on Saturday afternoon.

Despite Geneva (4-0) dominating possession of the ball, West Aurora (1-3) was able to stand their ground for most of the first half. The Vikings were held scoreless until Allon tallied the game’s first goal with three minutes remaining in the first half. The senior scored from five yards out off a perfect corner feed from defender Caitrin Griffin.

The Vikings went into halftime with a 1-0 lead and, most importantly, momentum.

“I knew we needed to get at least one goal before the half ended, just to give us a strong heads up going into the second half,” said Allon. “We knew we dominated most of the first half, we just struggled putting it away.”

The Vikings had no problem putting the ball away in the second half. Allon scored her second goal of the game less than five minutes after halftime, sparking a five goal second half for Geneva.

“I think it was good that we got that first goal before halftime, it kind of opened the flood gates,” said Geneva head coach Megan Owens.

“I think we played better in the second half as a result of that goal. In the first half we were looking to pass off and set up the perfect shot. But in the second half, the girls just wanted to get after it.”

Loebel scored the next two goals for the Vikings. With 33 minutes remaining in the second half, Loebel dribbled through two defenders and shot the ball past Blackhawks goalie Sam O’Brien from 10 yards out.

Eight minutes later, Loebel scored from five yards out to put the Vikings up 4-0 with 25 minutes remaining in the game.

Courtney Lardas and Molly Axen scored the final two goals for Geneva.

“We connected very well today, we found feet,” said Owens. “Kids were making really good runs off the ball, and they were communicating really well. They were doing all the little things right.”

West Aurora played well on defense early in the game despite facing constant pressure from the attacking Vikings offense. However, the Blackhawks just ran out of gas in the second half.

“We were tired and beat up in the second half,” said West Aurora head coach Laura Wagley. “In the first half, we did great and we stuck with them. Then in the second half, we were just way too tired for them.”

I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times, Aurora Beacon and yourseason.com. It appears here.

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Girls Softball: Sophomore Trio Leads Naperville Central To Victory Over Waubonsie Valley

Naperville Central got a boost from a trio of sophomores Thursday afternoon as the Redhawks defeated Waubonsie Valley 4-2 in Aurora.

Pitcher Keegan Hayes picked up the win after giving up two runs and three hits over seven innings. Center fielder Maddi Doane had three hits, including a triple, and two stolen bases while catcher Kaitlyn Skarecky hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning.

“You feel pretty good when you have a sophomore pitch a game like that, have a sophomore hit a two run homer and have a sophomore hit a triple and steal two bases,” said Naperville Central Head Coach Andy Nussbaum.

Hayes was impressive in her first career start. The sophomore retired 19 of the first 20 batters she faced before giving up a single and two-run homer in the seventh inning. In total, Hayes gave up two runs and three hits while striking out six and walking none.

Nussbaum said Hayes got off to one of the best starts he’s seen in his long tenure of coaching.

“To retire 19 out of 20 to start the game, we’re talking about four or five performances in 29 years we’ve had that have been like that. That’s pretty good,” said Nussbaum.

Hayes credited her teammates for giving her the confidence she needed to pitch well.

“It’s easy to come out confident and pitch well when you have hitters, and we had a great lineup today,” said Hayes. “Everyone was on their A-game. That helped a lot.”

The Redhawks (2-0) got on the board in the second inning after Dana Dolehide’s single brought home Laura Dierking. Naperville Central went up 2-0 later in the inning when an infield error allowed Dolehide to score.

After Doane hit a triple with one out in the fifth inning, Skarecky launched a two-run homer to left field that put the Redhawks up 4-0.

The Warriors (0-1) would get their only runs of the game on a two-run homer by Erin Hohman with one out in the seventh inning.

Waubonsie Valley head coach Alyson Kelley was impressed with the Warriors’ defense, but noted that the team must start focusing more on hitting.

“I was really, really impressed with our defense. We have done so much defensive work in practice that we’ve kind of left hitting off to the side a little bit, and it showed up today,” said Kelley. “We’re going to start focusing more on hitting as well, so we come full circle and we have everything going for our next game.”

I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times, Naperville Sun and Aurora Beacon. It appears here.

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