Two Chiefs collect Div. III diamond honors
SUGAR GROVE—Waubonsee Community College’s Cory Walden and Dan Okapal were named the NJCAA’s Division III Player of the Week and Pitcher of the Week, respectively. The duo helped lead the Chiefs, 23-8 overall, to a 7-2 record over the last week ending on April 10. It is the first time two Waubonsee baseball players have ever been honored nationally in the same week.
Walden, a 6-foot, 205-pound sophomore from Aurora West High School, blasted seven home runs and drove in an astounding 24 runs over eight games in the past week. The Chiefs’ designated hitter went 13 for 24 at the plate for a .542 batting average, ending the week on a 10-game hitting streak. Walden smacked a pair of 2-run homers, a trio of 3-run homers, and two grand slams, while scoring 11 times. For the season Walden is tied for first nationally among NJCAA Division III players with 11 home runs, is second in runs batted in with 48, is 16th nationally with a .446 batting average, and has a phenomenal .986 slugging percentage. Walden’s 11 round-trippers equals the Chiefs’ single-season record set by Ben Schmoker in 1996, while he is just four shy of Schmoker’s mark for runs batted in set that same year.
Okapal, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound sophomore from Aurora East High School, tossed two complete-game victories last week without allowing an earned run. The right-hander struck out 16 and walked none in 14 innings of work. On Tuesday, April 5, Okapal dispatched the College of Lake County on just 69 pitches, allowing only one hit and striking out nine with no walks in a complete game shutout. On Saturday, April 9, Okapal struck out seven, walked none and scattered seven hits while yielding two unearned runs in a 5-2 win over McHenry County College. Thus far on the season, Okapal is 4-0 with a 1.25 earned-run-average (ERA), ranking him sixth nationally among NJCAA Division III pitchers. He has struck out 39 batters and walked only four in 36 innings of work.
The Chiefs’ next home outing is Monday, April 25, against Oakton Community College at 2:30 p.m.