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Boys Baseball: Naperville Central Gets Revenge, Beats DGS For Regional Title

Naperville Central celebrates at home plate after winning a regional title.

Last year, Naperville Central’s season ended with a 3-1 loss to Downers Grove South in a regional final. The Redhawks finally got revenge on Saturday, knocking off the Mustangs 5-1 in the Downers Grove South regional final.

“It was great. They beat us last year. We needed to beat them this year, we couldn’t let that happen twice,” Redhawks second baseman Jeff Lucas said.

Naperville Central (25-12) was led by pitcher Jim Nashert, who turned in an all-around clutch performance. The right-handed junior surrendered no earned runs while allowing four hits and three walks in seven innings of work. Nashert also helped out on offense, driving in two runs and scoring another.

“Contributing at the plate gives me confidence on the mound,” Nashert said. “After I got my first hit, I felt more confident out on the mound and it was pretty smooth sailing from there, it was fun.”

Naperville Central took advantage of four Downers South errors to score its first three runs.

The Redhawks took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when an infield error allowed Nashert to score.

After Mustangs left fielder Zach Taylor tied the game at 1-1 with an RBI single in the fourth inning, the Redhawks scored two more unearned runs in the fifth inning to retake the lead.

Nashert’s RBI groundout drove in Lucas to put the Redhawks up 2-1. Two batters later, Naperville Central went up 3-1 when Kevin Linne – who reached base on an error – scored on another infield error.

The Redhawks scored two insurance runs in the seventh inning, going up 5-1 on a sacrifice fly by Nashert and an RBI single by Ross Murphy.

Downers South (24-13) coach Darren Orel said his team just couldn’t afford to make that many mistakes.

“They’re a great team, you give them extra outs and they’re going to take advantage of it,” Orel said.

Mustangs pitcher Brian Glowicki gave up just two earned runs and seven hits while striking out four and walking none in seven innings on the mound.

Naperville Central got a boost from the bottom of its batting order. Lucas and Linne, the No. 8 and No. 9 hitters in the Redhawks lineup, combined for three hits and four runs scored.

“Jeff Lucas came up huge today, he’s been batting for the last couple weeks,” Redhawks coach Mike Stock said. “And Kevin Linne, we put him in right field for defensive purposes, but he’s a battler at the plate too, and he put the bat on the ball, and made them make some plays.”

Naperville Central, the No. 5 seed in the Romeoville sectional, moves on to face No. 1 seed Plainfield North at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in a sectional semifinal.

Lucas believes the Redhawks have the talent to make a deep run in the playoffs.

“When we play like this, we’re unstoppable,” Lucas said. “When we get hits, and pitch like (Nashert) was pitching today, we can beat anybody.”

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

The Redhawks and Mustangs shake hands after Saturday’s game. It appears here.

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Boys Tennis: Marmion Qualifies 4, Claims West Aurora Sectional Title

Through The Fence: Batavia’s Josh Cogan returns a serve on Saturday.

Marmion continued its historic season on Saturday when two singles players and one doubles team qualified for state as the Cadets finished in first place at the West Aurora boys tennis sectional.

Senior Will Graft and sophomore John Graft took second and third place respectively in singles, while the doubles team of senior Chris Pattermann and junior Jackson Rettig finished third.

“The boys made history. It’s the first time in a long time, if ever, that we won a sectional title,” Cadets coach John Tsang said.

The Cadets went undefeated in the regular season and were champions of the Suburban Christian Conference.

Marmion topped all teams with 25 points, while Naperville Central and Waubonsie Valley tied for second with 18. Batavia (16) came in fourth.

Batavia senior Josh Cogan, who tied for ninth at last year’s state tournament, knocked off Marmion’s Will Graft 6-2, 6-1 in the singles championship.

Cogan, a four-time state qualifier, was able to overpower Graft with his serve.

“The serve felt really, really good. I was hitting it really clean,” said Cogan, who claimed the sectional title for the second straight year. “I got into a rhythm, and I wasn’t really thinking about it. I was just stepping up to the line and hitting it.”

Waubonsie Valley’s senior duo of Deep Chatterjee and Abhi Singh defeated the Naperville Central team of junior Danny Albert and sophomore Wesley Lo 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 in the doubles championship.

With temperatures hovering around 90 degrees, Singh said the third set was mentally and physically challenging.

“It was just mental toughness,” Singh said. “Both teams were really tired, we both won a set, and basically, it was whoever wanted it more.”

Singh qualified for state the previous three years in singles, but Chatterjee will be playing at state for the first time.

The Redhawks’ No. 2 doubles team of Matt Mason and Justin Gillette placed fourth and will be joining Albert and Lo at state. Marmion’s Pattermann and Rettig knocked off Mason and Gillette 6-7, 7-5, 6-1 in the third place doubles match.

West Aurora senior Matt Kuntzi qualified for state after a fourth-place finish. Marmion’s John Graft defeated Kuntzi 6-2, 6-4 in the third place singles match.

West Aurora and Metea Valley tied for fifth place with eight points. IMSA (6), East Aurora (4) and Aurora Central (4) followed.

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

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Boys Track: Wheaton North Wins DVC Meet In Dominating Fashion

Wheaton North stole the show at Friday’s DuPage Valley Conference track meet at Naperville North.

The Falcons won five individual championships and two relays on their way to taking first place with 175 points. Wheaton North had more than twice as many points as second-place Wheaton Warrenville South (81).

Naperville Central (78), Glenbard East (71), Naperville North (65) and West Aurora (57) rounded out the top six.

The Redhawks had two individual champions – Mike Juretschke in the pole vault and Sam Bransby in the 400.

Juretschke, a senior, won his first outdoor DVC title by setting a personal record in the pole vault (14-3).

“It feels great to win conference, especially because I’ve been jumping all four years,” Juretschke said. “It was a really big goal of mine to improve as much as I could this year.”

Bransby, a sophomore, defended his DVC indoor championship in the 400 (50.09) and finished third in the 200 (22.10).

“Indoor is a completely different monster, everyone gets faster outdoors,” Bransby said. “You feel like you have to step it up with everyone else, and I was proud to do that today.”

The Redhawks’ 3,200 relay team of Ethan Brodeur, Christian Schafer, Brad Kouchoukos and Forrest Thayer placed second (8:01.56).

Hurdler Michael Jopes placed third in both the 110 and 300 races. Central also got a third place finish from shot putter David Goodalis.

Fifth-place Naperville North was paced by sprinter James Kerns. The senior finished first in a very competitive 100 with a time of 10.86. Kerns also took second place in the 200 (22.08) and ran the opening leg of the Huskies’ third-place 800 relay.

Kerns had his mind set on next week’s sectional as soon as the DVC meet ended.

“This is the last meet before we go to sectionals, so the goal right now is to make sure you have the right time,” said Kerns, whose 100 and 200 times on Friday were below the state qualifying standards. “Winning conference is nice, but as long as I have the time I need to make state, that’s the primary goal.”

The Huskies got third place finishes from Nick Lyon (pole vault), Kareem Midani (long jump), Nick Drendel (3200), Adam Milsap (400) and Jimmy Qiao (1600).

Despite finishing sixth in the DVC, West Aurora coach Cortney Lamb saw a lot to get excited about heading into next week’s sectional meet.

“Overall as a team, we were really good. As far as we’re concerned, we came out and did what we needed to do,” Lamb said. “Great momentum going into next week, I think we’re peaking at the right time. The kids have confidence, the kids are having fun. It’s awesome.”

Aaron Kennebrew delivered the Blackhawks their only individual championship in the triple jump. The junior jumped 44 feet, 2¼ inches on his second attempt in finals, leaping almost a foot further than his previous personal best.

“I had a lot of adrenaline going, so I knew it was going to be a big jump,” said Kennebrew, who also placed fourth in the high jump (5-11). “I just trusted myself and my coach told me to just go after it. I wanted to get first, and that’s exactly what I did.”

Lijah Spears placed in both throwing events for the Blackhawks, taking second in the discus (150-1) and fourth in the shot put (49-4½)

After setting a personal record in the discus at Kane County last week, Spears did so in the shot put on Friday. The senior thrower said he’s peaking at the right time.

“I’m finally doing things right and it’s looking good for me,” Spears said. “I’m going to give it to them next week (at sectionals).”

Despite both running in the “slow heat,” Blackhawk sprinters Benny Prunty (22.28) and Tony Oros (22.82) placed fifth and sixth respectively in the 200.

“I just told them they’ve got to run like they do in relays because they kick butt in those relays,” Lamb said. “They finally did it in the open today.”

The Blackhawks got fourth-place finishes from Charles House in the triple jump and Josh Robinson in the 800, and fifth-place finishes from Parrish McGhee in the long jump and Omar Gomez in the 1600.

Wheaton North, also champions of the indoor DVC meet in March, could not be stopped on Friday. The Falcons won seven total events and had two athletes finish in the top-six of nine individual events (100, 400, 1600, 110 hurdles, 300 hurdles, pole vault, triple jump, shot put and discus).

Wheaton North athlete Zach Gordon won the 200 (21.79), long jump (23-5) and ran anchor on the Falcons’ first-place 40o relay team. The Falcons also got titles from their 800 relay team (1:30.31), Brett Kohler in the 300 hurdles (38.35), Mac Spaulding in the shot put (56-9) and Christian Hollinger in the discus (160-4)

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

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Girls Softball: Keegan Hayes Does It All As Naperville Central Knocks Off No. 1 Glenbard North

Behind The Fence: Glenbard North’s Lilly Fecho winds up on Wednesday.

A team needs a special performance if it is going to beat the No. 1 ranked team in the state.

That’s exactly what Naperville Central got from pitcher Keegan Hayes on Wednesday as the visiting Redhawks defeated No. 1 Glenbard North 2-1 in a DuPage Valley Conference duel.

The right-handed sophomore gave up one run and four hits in seven innings of work and provided all of the Redhawks offense on a two-run home run in the fourth inning. Naperville Central improved to 21-5, 10-1.

Hayes’ home run, the first of her career, came against Panthers ace Lilly Fecho. Hayes had struck out in her four previous at bats against the Purdue-bound Fecho this season and was in an 0-2 hole before launching the home run over the left-center field fence.

“I was shocked, it didn’t feel like a home run,” said Hayes. “I hadn’t hit so well off of Lilly, so I was really surprised. It didn’t feel like one.”

Fecho had a chance to return the favor with the Panthers trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning. With runners on first and second and two outs, Fecho hit a rocket to Redhawks shortstop Kelsey Gonzalez.

Gonzalez made a great stop and tossed the ball over to second baseman Nicole Kappelman for the force out to end the game.

Naperville Central coach Andy Nussbaum praised Gonzalez’s defense after the game.

“I am glad she is on my team. She did what she had to do,” said Nussbaum. “I’m glad she’s on my team and I think I’ve said that about 100 times this year.”

Glenbard North (25-2, 9-2) took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI double by Kelsey Muller. However, after the first inning the Panthers managed just two more hits.

Fecho had another strong outing, striking out nine batters while giving up seven hits and two runs over seven innings.

After starting the season 20-0, Glenbard North has lost two games in the last ten days. Panthers coach Josh Sanew said his team needs to get things going offensively again.

“We’re sort of heading the wrong way as we’re getting towards the state playoffs,” said Sanew. “I feel like our bats have gone a little bit down here the last five games. We’re just not coming up with that big hit, we’re leaving a ton of people on base. We’ve got six games to turn this thing around and headed in the right direction.”

I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times, Naperville Sun 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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Girls Water Polo: Naperville Central Scores Early and Often In Victory over Waubonsie Valley

Naperville Central center Abbey Kerth scored two early goals to jump start the Redhawks’ 14-1 victory over Waubonsie Valley on Tuesday night in Naperville.

The senior scored the game’s first goal just 16 seconds into the opening period. Kerth tallied another score less than a minute later and the Redhawks jumped out to an early 2-0 lead.

The Redhawks scored four more goals in the first period and led 6-0 after just seven minutes.

“We always swim the other team really hard at the beginning,” said Kerth. “We’re a really fast team and always counter-attack. We always want to get ahead.”

Kerth and Madison Nervig both had three goals to lead the Redhawks. Jenny Doyle and Kristina Altuve added two goals apiece, while Gracie May, Lauren Gunn, Jamie Schweikart and Michelle Spaits each had one goal.

“We were just doing our normal offense today, and we made a lot of good passes,” said Kerth. “We really wanted to win, obviously, against another Naperville team. It’s always fun playing teams in our sectional.”

Waubonsie Valley (1-7) was held scoreless until three minutes remained in the fourth period when Kim Palmer scored the Warriors’ first and only goal. The Redhawks were able to dominate possession of the ball, holding the Warriors to just seven shots in the game.

Despite the score, Naperville Central (11-0) head coach Jeff Plackett said Tuesday’s victory was anything but easy.

“I don’t think anytime you play another team from this area you can call it an easy victory,” said Plankett. “While the scoreboard says one thing, there’s a lot more going on under the water that people just don’t see.”

The Redhawks have won their first 11 games of the season, but Plankett still sees room for improvement in his squad.

“We just need to be consistent for four quarters. Today I thought there were a couple of times in the game where we got a little bit complacent,” said Plankett. “We got behind the offensive player, maybe we dropped our hips and it caused an ejection. So, tomorrow we’ll have more of a defensive focus during practice.”

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

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Girls Soccer: Carly Franzese Scores First High School Goal As Naperville Central Tops Oswego

Naperville Central midfielder Carly Franzese didn’t know what to do after she scored a goal early in the Redhawks’ 2-0 victory over Oswego Monday afternoon.

It was the first time the senior had scored a goal in a high school game.

“I saw an opening and I wasn’t marked, so I just ran through and someone made the perfect pass,” said Franzese. “I didn’t even know how to react once it went in since it was my first goal in high school. It was so exciting.”

It was forward Abby Joyce who made the pass to Franzese, setting up a goal that gave the Redhawks an 1-0 lead just five and half minutes into the game.

Forward Kristen Krebs came off the bench to give Naperville Central a 2-0 lead 20 minutes into the first half. Defenseman Amanda Albert’s entry pass was deflected by midfielder Paige Silver right to Krebs, who then scored her first goal of the season from five yards out.

“She [Krebs] needed to get that first one to get her going,” said Naperville Central head coach Ed Watson. “Early in the season, it’s nice for girls who haven’t scored yet to get on the score sheet. So it was really good to see Kristen and Carly score today.”

Naperville Central (4-0) was able to dominate possession all game, and the Redhawks out-shot the Panthers 17-2. Oswego (0-2) had very little success getting the ball past midfield.

“We kept the pressure on them. When the ball really came out of their end, it was tough for them to gain possession and link too many things together,” said Watson. “We bottled them up pretty well, our back four kept things under control. We kept the ball in front of us.”

Oswego has yet to score a goal this season.

The Redhawks have won their first four games, but Watson said the beginning of the season is about more than just wins and losses.

“These first five games before spring break are like our spring training,” said Watson. “It’s always nice to win these games, but more importantly, it’s all about giving the coaches a sense of what we have and what we need to tweak, and giving the girls an opportunity to know one another as teammates.”

The Redhawks will finish off their opening five-game stretch on Wednesday night against Waubonsie Valley at North Central College.

“Game one was a little shaky, game two was a little shaky, but three and four have been better,” said Watson. “That’s a good sign and we look forward to keeping things going against Waubonsie on Wednesday.”

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

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