Category Archives: Softball

Spring journey | 2013 Spring Sports Preview

Photo: Kaneland’s Allyson O’Herron slides safely into third during the regional championship game last year.
File Photo

Softball squad eyes extending goal beyond regional title
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—With two-thirds of its Regional Championship lineup returning, the KHS softball team is preparing to show what it can do when Opening Day 2013 arrives.

That core of the team knows what it’s like to come back when the chips are down, like in last year’s Regional Championship win over Yorkville. Yet, they’ll have to do it without some of last year’s key players.

Gone are the likes Northern Illinois Big XII MVP and current Northern Illinois Huskie Delani Vest and reliable backstop McKinzie Mangers, but fellow all-NIB12 members Paige Kuefler, Hayley Contorno, Aly O’Herron and Lexi Roach solidify this year’s lineup.

In fact, most of the lineup from last year’s 31-7 team will return, and they will apply the experience gained from advancing all the way to the Belvidere North Sectional semifinal last May.

Fourth-year coach Brian Willis was at the helm for the first regional title win for the school in seven years.

“There’s no question that team was special last year, and they accomplished a lot of things,” Willis said. “They won 31 games and a regional, but they (the 2013 team) still have goals they want to achieve. We did lose some key players, and every school goes through that, but we have several girls coming back that are anxious to get back out on the field.”

The lineup looks to combine success and hunger.

“We have girls that will use last year as a motivating factor for this year,” Willis said.

Returning captain O’Herron patrols shortstop.

“I’m biased, but I think she’s one of the best shortstops in the entire area,” Willis said.

Junior Hayley Contorno returns at first with Rosary’s loss continuing to be a KHS gain on defense. Sophomore Kuefler moves from third to her natural position of catcher, and will try to duplicate her middle-of-the-order success at the plate. All-conference junior Roach and junior Callaghan patrol the outfield and help with the bats, with senior Sarah Grams back for an outfield job, as well. Callaghan looks for a full-strength year after missing half of 2012 with injuries, yet she still hit over .500.

Second-base will be a platoon, and freshman Meg Cohrs will start at third.

Senior Ellissa Eckert, junior Allie Miller and sophomore Anissa Becker shore up the pitcher’s circle, with Eckert having the more sizable throwing experience.

“Replacing somebody like Delani will be very difficult, but you could have someone step up and be a surprise this year; that’s sports,” Willis said.”This is their opportunity to shine.”

Fellow members of the Lady Knight roster include outfielders junior Caroline Heimerdinger, senior Morgan Newhouse, junior Megan Frascona, senior Taylor Krawczyk and junior Kaley Martens.

Infielders include junior Maddy Hester and senior Kristin Gabrielson.

The Lady Knights begin 2013 on Friday, March 15, at Jacobs High School in Algonquin, Ill. A spring break softball trip takes the team to Louisville, Ky.

KHS Softball Roster

1 Caroline Heimerdinger OF Jr
2 Sarah Grams OF Sr
3 Maddy Hester IF Jr
4 Allyson O’Herron IF Sr
6 Lanie Callaghan OF Jr
8 Allie Miller IF/P Jr
14 Haley Contorno IF Jr
16 Meg Cohrs IF Fr
18 Paige Kuefler IF/C So
21 Morgan Newhouse OF Sr
24/44 Anissa Becker P/IF So
26 Megan Frascona OF/P Jr
27 Taylor Krawczyk OF Sr
31 Kristin Gabrielson IF Sr
37 Kaley Martens OF Jr
50 Ellissa Eckert IF/P Sr
70 Lexi Roach OF Jr

Softball star Vest not done yet

Elite pitcher earns partial scholarship to Northern Illinois
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Delani Vest is not quite done impressing on the softball diamond.

After originally planing to join the softball outfit at Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove for the upcoming 2012-13 school year, Vest took a partial scholarship offer to play Huskie softball at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.

Vest, who was an important cog in the Lady Knight softball machine the past four years, as well as the Northern Illinois Big XII Most Valuable Player in 2012, said it came about quite suddenly.

“I was planning to commute to Waubonsee, but my travel team is well-known (the Wasco Diamonds), and Christina Sutcliffe, the new (NIU) coach, had seen some local teams and offered me a scholarship,” Vest said.

Rather than mow down opposing batters in a Huskie uniform, Vest looks to break batters’ spirit by nabbing ground balls as an infielder.

“I’m used to playing in the infield, and have played it for my travel team for the last three years,” Vest said.

Wasco Diamonds 18U coach Steve Cihlar is familiar with what Vest brings.

“She’s been entrenched there for three years for our 18U team and will go to college having played well over 250 games there against top competition. NIU is getting a player that has major college talent,” Cihlar said.

Vest joins an NIU team that finished 19-34 and 7-15 in Mid-American Conference play a year ago. Sutcliffe joined the team in June after seven years as an assistant coach for Miami University of Ohio.

Vest, a 2012 Kaneland graduate, won 20 games for the Lady Knights squad and made things happen in the lineup itself as a leadoff hitter in a year that saw the KHS group reach the Belvidere North Sectional.

As a college student, future Division I athlete, and mother to her son, Braden, born during the 2010-2011 softball season, Vest was relieved, excited and thankful for continued support.

“I think it was a little bit of everything. It’s going to be a little easier as a commuter for the first season. It was a Division I scholarship, and the travel is obviously more, but it was such a great opportunity. I want it so bad. I have my family, and Braden, and everyone has been so supportive,” Vest said.

Vest knows the prestige that comes to the Kaneland program as someone who makes it to the next level.

“Everyone on the softball team could have gone to play somewhere in college, and there were a lot of teammates like my sister (Rilee, at Cornell College), and players going back before me,” Vest said.

With an opportunity on the horizon, Vest has her goal and an opportunity right in front of her, and will see what she has in this intial year of college softball.

“Right now in this first year, I’ll commute from home. We’ll see how I do and see about coming to DeKalb the next year. But, we’ll take it as it comes,” Vest said.

High school softball changes hit-by-pitch rule

Indianapolis—Batters in high school softball no longer will have to make an attempt to avoid being hit by a pitch in order to be awarded first base.

This revision to Rule 8-1-2 was one of four rules changes approved by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Softball Rules Committee at its summer meeting in Indianapolis. All rules changes were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

A batter will be awarded first base if “a pitched ball is entirely within the batter’s box and it strikes the batter or her clothing. No attempt to avoid being hit by the pitch is required; however, the batter may not obviously try to get hit by the pitch.”

Theresia Wynns, NFHS director of sports and officials education and staff liaison for softball, said this rules change clears up the gray area of whether the batter made an attempt to get out of the way of the pitch.

“Since a batter is penalized for prohibiting a pitch from entering the strike zone, the committee thought there should be a penalty when the pitcher hits a batter when the pitch is completely inside the batter’s box,” Wynns said.

In Rule 6-1, the committee approved the following exceptions to the penalty for an illegal pitch:
1) If the batter reaches first base safely and each other runner advances at least one base, the illegal pitch is nullified. All action stands and the illegal pitch is canceled.
2) If the batter does not reach first base safely or if any base runner fails to advance at least one base, the coach of the team at bat shall have the option of the result of the play or the penalty of the illegal pitch.
3) If the batter is hit by an illegal pitch out of the strike zone, the batter is awarded first base and each base runner is awarded one base.
4) If ball four is an illegal pitch, the batter is awarded first base and each base runner is awarded one base.

A change was approved by the Softball Rules Committee regarding the color of gloves/mitts. As a follow-up to the change last year that required the color of all softballs to be optic yellow, the committee revised language in Rule 1-4-1 to state that gloves/mitts must not be entirely optic yellow or have that color of marking on the inside or outside of gloves/mitts that would give the appearance of the ball.

The final rules change was Rule 3-6-10, which will allow stopwatches to be used in the coach’s box.

A complete listing of all rules changes approved by the committee is available on the NFHS Web site at Click on “Athletics & Fine Arts Activities” on the home page, and select “Softball.”

Fast-pitch softball is the fourth-most popular sport for girls at the high school level, according to the 2011-12 NFHS Athletics Participation Survey, with 373,535 participants nationwide. The sport ranks fourth in school sponsorship with 15,338 schools sponsoring the sport.

Spring kind to Kaneland athletics in awards season

Photo: Delani Vest capped a stellar senior season for Lady Knights softball by nabbing the NIB-12 MVP honor. File photo

KANELAND—A highly successful 2011-12 spring season was recognized with team awards dished out earlier this week, as well as honors from the end-of-year senior athletic banquet.

Awards were released on June 3.

Leading the charge was sectional semifinalist softball, which boasted the Northern Illinois Big XII MVP in pitcher Delani Vest. Joining the senior on the all-conference list was Paige Kuefler, Hayley Contorno, Allyson O’Herron and McKinzie Mangers, with teammate Lexi Roach an honorable mention.

Vest, Mangers, O’Herron and Sam Hansen were recognized as captains. O’Herron was named defensive player of the year, while Roach was named most improved player. Kuefler and Lanie Callaghan were named co-offensive players of the year, while Contorno and Kristen Gabrielson took home the Lady Knight award.

The senior athletic banquet awards recognized University of Wisconsin-Whitewater bound Sean Carter as Male Athlete of the Year, Kelly Evers as Female Athlete of the Year, Clayton Brundige as the Male Birkette award winner for dedication, and both Evers and Katy Dudzinski as the Female Birkette award for dedication recipient.

For boys track, Carter was named the Track MVP, while Nate Dyer took home the Field MVP honors. Brundige and Brandon Stahl were co-winners of the Drendel Award. Brundige, Carter, Miki Marin, Stahl, Nate Rehkopf, Kelvin Peterson and Mitch Dienst were recognized as captains. Dylan Nauert was named the winner of the Ron Probst award.

Finally, Kaneland’s boys track group of Luis Acosta, Brandon Bishop, Kyle Carter, Sean Carter, Dyer, Shane Jorgensen, Nate Kucera, Nauert, Tanner Andrews, Brandon Cottier, Marshall Farthing, Kory Harner, Conor Johnson, Dylan Pennington, Brundige and Marin were recognized as All NIB-12.

Meanwhile, the 11 State qualifiers were also lauded for their trip to Eastern Illinois University.

For Knights baseball, Tom Fox, Drew Peters, John Hopkins, Trevor Storck, Jake Razo and Tyler Heinle were named to the All NIB-12 team, with Bryan VanBogaert an honorable mention.

VanBogaert, Storck and Ray Barry took home the most improved player nods, and Trever Heinle was the recipient of the 41 Award in memory of Jeff Malewig. Fox was named the offensive MVP and Tyler Heinle was named defensive MVP, with Razo nabbed Mr. Kaneland Baseball for 2012.

The girls track season yielded quite the prestigious awards, with Amanda Lesak, Jessica Kucera, Maggie Brundige, Sydney Strang, Jen Howland, Lauren Zick and Kaltrina Ismaili being recognized as state qualifiers.

Christina Delach, Nicole Ketza, Elle Tattoni, Lesak, Gabby Aguirre, Strang, Zick, Ismaili and Howland also secured Northern Illinois Big XII honors.

Carolina Tovar and Ketza were recognized for their work as captains. Lesak took home the team’s most improved trophy.

The Track MVP honor was given to Strang, while the Field MVP honor went to Tattoni.

Kaneland soccer congratulated Jess Coia, Jordan Ginther, Delaney Stryczek and Katie Taylor for making All NIB-12, while Brittany Olson made the honorable mention list.

Melissa Bohorquez, Ginther, Taylor and Taylor White were recognized as captains, while Brooke Harner was named Most Improved Player for the Lady Knights.

Courtney Diddell and Madi Jurcenko capped impressive campaigns by garnering Rookie of the Year honors.

Taylor Opperman, Heather Ortiz and Stryczek were named winners of the Coach’s Award.

Michelle Ortiz and Olson were named winners of the Lady Knights Award, while the co-MVPs were revealed as Taylor and Ginther.

Sterling softball too golden for Kaneland

Photo: Hayley Contorno slides safely into second on a hit by Sarah Grams in the second inning of Kaneland’s sectional playoff game against Sterling, hosted by Belvidere North, on May 30. Photo by John DiDonna

KHS softball (31-7) sees season end
in sectional semi

by Mike Slodki
BELVIDERE, Ill.—Kaneland softball’s season had more ups than downs in 2012.

Unfortunately, the Sterling Lady Warriors brand of diamond play made KHS land with a thud.

A Lady Knight lineup that saw the spectrum of convincing victories and dramatic comebacks in a regional championship—its first since 2005—fell victim to the pitching of Stephanie Kester and an opponent that plated nine runs in a 9-1 sectional semifinal result at Belvidere North High School on May 30.

Sterling lost to Marengo in the sectional final on Monday by a 2-1 clip.

Kaneland’s season ended at 31-7.

“They earned everything they got this year,” KHS coach Brian Willis said. “Certainly it’s encouraging that we’ll be getting people back, but it’s hard to comprehend right now and it’s disappointing to go out this way.”

Kester defeated Delani Vest in the pitching matchup in what would be Vest’s final varsity game.

But Vest contributed early with her bat after allowing a run in the top of the first inning.

After a double, Allyson O’Herron sacrificed her over to third base. Third baseman Paige Kuefler drove Vest home with a single but was thrown out at second.

Sterling scored twice in the second for a 3-1 deficit, and Kaneland would find itself with two runners on base for the last time in the game.

With one out, Hayley Contorno and Sarah Grams laced back-to-back singles, but Sam Hansen lined out and Vest popped out to end the threat.

Kaneland would get just two more hits the remainder of the game, and Sterling would put up two runs in the fifth, one in the sixth and three more in the seventh to ice the win.

While Sterling’s fielding kept the Lady Knights mostly in check, Willis would liked to have seen enough hitting for the defense to be irrelevant.

“We bunted the ball too hard, it was right to their third baseman, and I would put it more on us than I would on them.”

With the conclusion of Kaneland’s softball year, the program says goodbye to seniors Vest, Hansen, McKinzie Mangers, Alexis Villarreal and Sarah Kitz.

Regional Rally

Photo: Sam Hansen leaps into the arms of fellow Class 3A IMSA Regional-winning teammates on Saturday after Kaneland’s 9-5 win over Yorkville. Photo by Patti Wilk

Furious 6th inning leads to comeback over YHS for Regional

by Mike Slodki
AURORA—There’s a saying that if you give someone an inch, they’ll take a mile.

In the case of Lady Knights softball, give them the sixth inning, they’ll score six runs.

Kaneland softball (31-6) scored nine runs in its final two at-bats during Saturday’s Class 3A Regional Championship at Illinois Math and Science Academy against the second-seeded Yorkville Lady Foxes for a 9-5 win and its first regional plaque in seven years.

“We’ve been doing this all year,” coach Brian Willis said. “They never quit. I didn’t have to say anything. They know what they’re capable of.”

Kaneland got into the final with a 10-0, six-inning triumph over fourth seed Rosary on May 23.
Delani Vest earned the win in both games.

“Since freshman year I’ve wanted to win a regional championship. It feels awesome to finally get one, and we really had to push through this one,” Vest said.

Yorkville went up 1-0 in the third inning, and it remained that way until the bottom of the fifth.

With one out, Allyson O’Herron singled, as did Paige Kuefler. Lanie Callaghan laced another single for an RBI to tie the game. With two outs, Lexi Roach redeemed her third-inning at-bat that left two runners stranded with a triple to give Kaneland a 3-1 lead.

“That was the biggest hit, no question,” O’Herron said. “That got us going.”

After Yorkville put up four runs on Vest in the top of the sixth, Kaneland’s lineup came alive with six runs after 11 girls came to the plate.

With the score 5-4 after a Vest RBI, McKinzie Mangers lifted a flyball out of the right-fielders reach that plated two more for the 6-5 lead. Sarah Grams and Roach came up with two more run-scoring hits.

In the seventh, Sam Hansen caught a liner at second base, triggering a celebration.

“We are confident. This shows that we could do it, and we have to ride the wave,” O’Herron said.

The sectional wave was scheduled for Wednesday at Belvidere North against Sterling. Sterling won the game 9-1, ending the KHS season. See the June 7 edition of the Elburn Herald for game coverage.

Softball defense stingy, bats not

KANELAND—A team can only play the games in front of them on the softball diamond, and the playoffs will have to wait.

For now, however, Kaneland is continuing to roll convincingly.

May 16 saw a 10-0, six-inning triumph over visiting Oswego East High School, and Saturday morning saw an 8-0 win over host Rosary.

Kaneland sits at 29-6 with the conference title already wrapped up last week.

KHS scored two in the first, two more in the third before walking off with six in the sixth.

Lanie Callaghan and McKinzie Mangers each went 3-for-4, and Delani Vest solved Wolves hitters with just four hits allowed and eight strikeouts.

Against Rosary, Kaneland’s 2-0 lead grew to four in the fifth inning, and four more runs in the sixth iced it.

Vest earned the win with five innings of work and seven K’s, and Ellissa Eckert came in for the final two innings of work.

Callaghan went 2-for-4 with a homer and three driven in, and Hayley Contorno helped the cause against her former squad with a 2-for-3 morning.

Kaneland was set to place its one-seed against (5) Rosary, Monday winners over IMSA on Wednesday, with one of those three schools meeting Yorkville or Sandwich in the IMSA Regional championship on Saturday, May 26, at 11 a.m.

Softball fortunes go Northern

Photo: Lexi Roach places a bunt in the perfect spot to beat out the throw in the sixth inning of Kaneland’s 8-1 home win against Yorkville on Thursday. Photo by John DiDonna

KHS nine continues to roll after securing NIB-12 East title
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Right now, there’s no stopping the KHS softball team.

For proof, you can look at the record of 27-5, or the Northern Illinois Big XII East Division mark of 10-0, or ask what was left of the Yorkville and Plainfield North lineups after meeting the Lady Knights this week.

An 8-1 solving of the visiting Yorkville Foxes on Thursday and a five-inning, 15-5 slaughter of Plainfield North has the Lady Knight lineup sitting pretty with two regular season games left.

The Lady Knights are currently ranked third in the Illinois Coaches’ Association Class 3A poll, with former Western Sun Conference mate Glenbard South at No. 1.

The Lady Knights also learned a week ago that they’ll carry the top seed in the Class 3A IMSA Regional in Aurora, and play the winner of IMSA and Rosary next week. KHS already defeated the slated second seed, Yorkville, this week.

Against Plainfield North, Kaneland fell behind 3-0 after the first inning.

Kaneland proceeded to plate six in the bottom of the second, and after allowing two more in the top of the fourth, KHS turned offensive with three runs in the fourth and six more in the fifth for the walk-off win.

Alexis Villarreal allowed five runs on 10 hits, but still earned the win.

Yorkville took a 1-0 lead on Thursday in the first inning, but Paige Kuefler’s RBI single drove home Allyson O’Herron with a single to tie the score.

In the bottom of the third, Kuefler and Lanie Callaghan added RBI doubles for a 3-1 lead.

Callaghan, who went 3-for-3 with an RBI, was glad to get an important win over a conference rival this late in the season enroute to NIB-12 supremacy.

“We might come up against them again, and we knew we had to come out strong. Right now, our hitting is on fire,” Callaghan said.

“I’ve contributed, but I feel I’ve been in some slumps and try my best to work out of them. It was hard for me to wait.”

In the sixth inning, four of the first five batters slapped hits past Yorkville, with RBI coming from Haley Contorno and Sarah Grams, and the Lady Knights’ lead increased to 8-1.

What lies ahead for Kaneland is a doubleheader at Rosary on Saturday, May 19, before traveling to Aurora for the IMSA Regional. The first test is Wednesday, May 23, with the regional title game scheduled for Saturday, May 26.

Softball, with 24 wins, continues season steamroll

Photo: Kaneland catcher McKinzie Mangers gets ready to throw to third base in the seventh inning of their 10-1 home win against Sycamore on Thursday. Photo by Patti Wilk

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Like bills received in the mail, Kaneland softball comes at you whether you like it or not.

Sometimes its a late rally, other times a convincing route, but the Lady Knights softball roster is leaving an imprint on whomever it goes up against.

After a 10-1 rout of the visiting Lady Spartans on Thursday, and a 7-4 comeback win over visiting DeKalb on May 2, the Lady Knights are 24-5, nearly doubling last year’s win total, and caps it with an 8-0 mark in Northern Illinois Big XII play. Kaneland holds a three-game edge over DeKalb for the conference crown.

Eight runs in the final three innings of play buoyed Kaneland against Sycamore, with Sarah Grams going 2-for-3 with a triple and two RBI in the win. Righty Alexis Villarreal earned the win in five innings, allowing just a run on five hits to go with seven strikeouts. Ellissa Eckert pitched two perfect innings to secure the win.

The win over DeKalb took on a more dramatic and compelling nature, after DeKalb smashed two early homers to take a 4-3 lead after three innings. Down to its next-to-last chance, Kaneland went nuts in a four-run sixth.

KHS coach Brian Willis was happy with the end result, particularly after a rough start.

“It would have been disappointing, no question about it, especially with all the opportunities we would have left out there,” Willis said. “We had some baserunning and defensive gaffes early, but this team is resilient. They don’t quit.”

With the bases juiced and one out, Delani Vest’s grounder to shortstop was thrown away, allowing two runs to score. Allyson O’Herron and Paige Kuefler followed with RBI singles to put the game away.

Kuefler continues to plug away in the middle of the order, carrying an offensive load at times as an underclassman.

“I feel I have improved, but I’ve been in some slumps,” Kuefler said. “I try my best to work out of the slumps. On a game like today it was hard for me to wait to get up to the plate because I was so into it and I wanted to come back.”

Kaneland prepared to host Yorkville on Thursday, May 10, as the Northern Illinois Big XII slate soldiers on.

KHS seeing shine on softball diamond

KANELAND—Kaneland softball is sticking with what works.

It’s what’s produced not only a six-game win streak, but now 21 wins in its last 23 contests.

The KHS softball ranks continue to impress after a 4-2 handling of the host Lady Redskins of Morris on Thursday, and a 6-4 comeback win over the visiting Lady Pirates of Ottawa on April 25.

Kaneland (22-5, 6-0 Northern Illinois Big XII) was lifted once again by the pitching of Delani Vest, who threw all seven innings and allowed just two earned runs on four hits. Vest also fanned four batters in the win.

Against Ottawa, it was the Paige Kuefler show, as the freshman went 3-for-3 with a triple, home run and four RBI to go along with two runs scored.

Nursing a 2-1 lead after four innings, the Lady Knights surrendered a three-spot to Ottawa in the top of the fifth before answering with four runs in the bottom of the inning.

Alexis Villarreal’s six innings of four-run, nine-hit ball (5 K’s) was good for the win, with Vest picking up the save.

KHS hosts Sycamore on Thursday, May 3.

KHS softball reaches 20-win plateau

Photo: Paige Kuefler gets the runner out trying to steal third base in the fourth inning of Kaneland’s 15-1 home victory over Dixon on Saturday. Photo by John DiDonna

KANELAND—Lady Knights softball continues to hit, which may give groans to opponents that see the Kaneland lineup on its upcoming schedule.

In a twinbill with Northern Illinois Big XII West division school Dixon in Maple Park on Saturday, Kaneland brought the aluminum with a 15-1 win in game one and an 11-2 win in game two.

That accompanied a 9-3 win in Streator, Ill., against the Lady Bulldogs on Tuesday afternoon.

The Lady Knights are now 20-5 (5-0 NIB-12, and have now emerged victorious in 19 of their last 21 contests—a sharp contrast from the previous immediate stretch in which the KHS crew lost 21 of 28 games.

The Lady Knights were helped by Ellissa Eckert’s five-inning, complete game effort, in which she allowed just an earned run on four hits.

On the hitting side of the spectrum, Paige Kuefler (2-for-2, two BB, two RBI) supplied the hitting charge.

Game two had the Lady Knights put up an eight-spot in the second, two in the third and one in the fifth for all the offense needed.

The winning pitcher line took the form of Alexis Villarreal’s complete-game four hitter with 10 strikeouts to boot.

Vest took care of business on the mound at Streator, with a three-run, three-hit effort in the circle.

Catcher McKinzie Mangers’ 2-for-2 day with two walks helped the winning effort, while Allyson O’Herron went 2-for-3 with and RBI and a run scored.

Softball, now 17-5, continues to impress

KANELAND—With just one hiccup notwithstanding, Lady Knights softball continues to enjoy the feast of victory on what has become a productive 2012 regular season.

Kaneland improved to 17-5 (5-0 Northern Illinois Big XII) after a Saturday twinbill split against Maine West of Des Plaines, Ill., a handy six-inning win over host Rochelle on Thursday and an 8-3 win in Yorkville on Tuesday.

Game one on Saturday against the Lady Warriors went Kaneland’s way by a 5-3 count, with Delani Vest earning the win. Vest went the distance, allowing three runs on eight hits, while striking out five.

First baseman Hayley Contorno went 3-for-3 with a double and RBI for hitting support. Kaneland broke a 2-2 tie with a single run in the bottom of the fourth and two more in the bottom of the fifth, while Maine West could manage just one more run in the top of the sixth.

In game two, Maine West scored three runs in the top of the seventh to pull away, despite the best efforts of pitcher Alexis Villarreal (7 inn, 8 hits, three ER) and Morgan Newhouse (2-for-4).

Younger softball happenings against Maine West saw Kaneland score 13 runs in the sixth inning of game one of a twinbill, resulting in a 14-2 win. Annissa Becker took the win on the mound, along with a triple at the plate. Sam Payton went 4-for-4 with a homer and a double to her name.

Game two saw a 16-6 loss to MW.

Against Rochelle, the Lady Knights put up crooked numbers in every inning with three runs apiece in the first, third, fifth and sixth.

Vest and Villarreal combined for the win on the pitching end, while Paige Kuefler’s 3-for-4 and Contorno’s 3-for-4, triple and two RBI afternoon sealed the deal.

Against the Lady Foxes, the Lady Knights got a win on the pitching end from Vest (CG, 6 H, 3 ER, 6K), with Kuefler going 3-for-4.

The Lady Knights host Dixon in doubleheader action on Saturday, April 21.

KHS softball (14-4) swinging a hot bat

KANELAND—After KHS coach Brian Willis wished for the hitting to catch up to the above-average pitching and defense, the Lady Knights softball contingent spent this past week granting that wish in earnest.

With an April 4 win over Hoffman Estates, a successful road jaunt to DeKalb on Thursday, a convincing victory at West Aurora on Monday and a slim win in Sycamore on Tuesday, Kaneland now sits at 14-4 (3-0 Northern Illinois Big XII), having won 13 of its last 14 contests.

Hosting the Mid-Suburban League’s Lady Hawks, Kaneland used four runs in the first, three in the third and five in the fourth for a 12-0, five-inning win.

Ellissa Eckert went the distance and scattered just two hits. Sarah Kitz homered, while Allyson O’Herron went 3-for-3 with two doubles and two RBI.

In DeKalb, Kaneland soared behind the strength of a four-run first and a three-run third for a 9-3 win. Delani Vest’s mound victory included giving up three runs on five hits, but also included a productive afternoon at the plate with an RBI double.

Kaneland enjoyed a combined pitching effort from Alexis Villarreal and Eckert in a 10-3 win against W. Aurora, plus a 3-for-3 day from O’Herron and a 4-for-4 day from Paige Kuefler (4-for-4, six RBI).

In a slim 2-0 win in Spartan-land on Tuesday, Kaneland’s single-run effort in the second and fifth was enough, with Lanie Callaghan scoring a run and Vest striking out eight in the win.

The Lady Knights take on the host Rochelle Lady Hubs on Thursday, April 12, and host Maine West on Saturday, April 14.

KHS softball on tear after Tenn. trip

Photo: Shortstop Allyson O’Herron catches up to the runner trying to score and saves a run in the fourth inning of Kaneland’s 1-0 home win over Sandwich on Monday. Photo by John DiDonna

Stellar pitching keys additional wins over Sandwich, Morris
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—If you thought the method for getting a softball season out of an early funk was going to the state of Tennessee, then you’re stealing the Lady Knights softball team’s way of doing things.

With a number of handy victories that culminated in a 6-1 trip to the Volunteer State, coupled with a slim and tense victory over the visiting Sandwich Indians on Monday afternoon and a convincing decision over invading Morris on Tuesday, the Lady Knights find themselves at 10-4 (1-0 Northern Illinois Big XII) in 2012.

The fortunate return to the win column as of late reverses a trend that saw the varsity crew on the wrong end 21 of 28 times following last season’s early 8-1 start.

In a 14-0, six-inning win on March 28 on the grounds of Macon County High School, Kaneland saw a solid pitching day from Delani Vest, Alexis Villarreal and Ellissa Eckert. Lexi Roach (three runs), Paige Kuefler (five RBI) and Allie Miller (three runs) all went 3-for-5.

In the Cookeville, Tenn. tournament, Kaneland walloped Clay County in a 16-0 shortened affair. Vest and Villarreal surrendered just two hits total, while Roach had a 2-for-3 day at the plate with three runs scored. Vest also went 2-for-3 with three runs scored to help herself at the plate.

Lewis County then got the best of the Lady Knights in a 9-4 outing, helped by five runs in the first and second innings.

In another tournament battle, Kaneland defeated Fayatte with two runs in the bottom of the fourth for a 4-3 win. Vest earned the win with seven K’s and a two-for-three day at the plate.

Next, the Lady Knights used four runs in the second and six runs in the third to propel themselves to a 12-1 win. With Vest getting the win in the circle, Kuefler helped KHS with two home runs and six driven in. Miller went 3-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBI.

The two final games on Saturday both went Kaneland’s way against Franklin County of Tenn., a 10-0 shutout and a 12-2 win over Franklin Co. of Ky. Vest, besides earning the win in both games, also went 6-for-6 at the plate, while Kuefler drove in four RBI.

In the clutch, 1-0 win over Sandwich, the hits were hard to come by for both teams, but the defense and pitching came through.

In the top of the third, Sandwich was caught between third and home and foiled by Kuefler and Allyson O’Herron on the way to the plate. Meanwhile, Villarreal had a stellar day in the pitcher’s circle, fanning 13, including the final batter on a 3-2 pitch with the go-ahead run at first in the top of the seventh.

“Once people starting getting on base, I just had to buckle down,” Villarreal said. “I hoped the defense could pick it up a little bit and I could get my strikeout.”

Roach’s groundball and throw was mishandled in the infield, allowing Kuefler to come home with the lone run from third.

Coach Brian Willis was happy with the effort in the field on a day where the hits came at a premium.

“We’re going to have days like this, where the pitching and defense needs to pick you up. Alexis pitched well, and she kept us in the game the entire time,” Willis said.

In the 5-0 handling of the Lady Redskins, Kaneland scored two in the first, two in the third and one in the fifth.

Vest allowed just three hits and fanned seven. Lanie Callaghan made her way from the injury list with a 3-for-3 day with two doubles.

Ahead for the softball squad is a matchup in DeKalb on Thursday, April 5, followed by a battle at West Aurora High School on Monday, April 9, and a trip to Sycamore to face the squad that eliminated the Knights last year from playoff competition on Tuesday, April 10.

Softball beats Oswego, not fond of BC yardwork

Photo: The Kaneland varsity girls try to figure out a plan during their 10-5 home loss against Burlington Central on March 21. Photo by Patti Wilk

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—At the very least, the Kaneland Lady Knights softball crew no longer has to worry about where its first win will come from.

Thanks to a solid performance against the visiting Oswego Lady Panthers, Kaneland picked up its first win of the season on Saturday by a final of 8-0.

It left a better taste than the 10-5 loss to the visiting Lady Rockets of Burlington Central on March 21.

Kaneland now sits at 1-3.

KHS got all the offense it needed in the first four innings against Oswego, scoring two in the first and second, one in the third and three in the bottom of the fourth.

Senior Delani Vest picked up the win in a complete-game effort, fanning six while allowing just two hits.

Shortstop Allyson O’Herron went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI, while teammate Sarah Kitz added a triple and an RBI.

The win beat the overall result of the clash with the Lady Rockets. Leads of 2-0 and 5-4 could not hold up to the four-homer barrage of BC.

Alexis Villarreal suffered the loss in relief, but KHS saw good box scores from Vest (2-for-4, triple) and catcher McKinzie Mangers (2-for-4).

Kaneland couldn’t withstand three homers from sophomore Brooke Gaylord, however.

Kaneland’s 2-0 lead was put on the board by an RBI grounder from Lexi Roach and a double by Mangers.

After BC tied the score in the top of the second, the Lady Rockets scored two more in the fourth for a 4-2 lead.

In the bottom of the fourth, three straight infield singles by Allie Miller, Vest and Roach loaded the bases, and O’Herron knocked home two with a game-tying single. Freshman Paige Kuefler’s RBI double gave Kaneland a 5-4 lead.

BC used defensive lapses from KHS and timely hitting from its own lineup to put up five runs in the sixth and one in the seventh to clinch the win.

All Kaneland coach Brian Willis wanted was for his lineup to move past the less-than-ideal ending.

“We’ve played 21 innings this year, and we’ve had one bad inning,” Willis said. “If you have that bad inning, this is what’s going to happen. (Gaylord) was in a zone today, give her credit.”

Additional softball action had KHS beating BC 5-0 behind Anissa Becker’s pitching effort.

Ahead for the Lady Knights lies a trip to the lower reaches of the state, as they take on Macon County High School on Friday, March 30, as part of their spring break excursion.

Kaneland softball looks toward captains to right ship

Photo: Samantha Hansen brings speed and bat prowess in her role as a captain for the Lady Knights softball squad in 2012. File Photo

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—An 8-1 start a year ago turned into a 14-19 finish for a softball group hoping for bigger things.

With a solid group of captains ready to pick up where graduated seniors Rilee Vest and Andrea Potts left off, KHS softball looks to experience to have a more consistent season-long outing.

Third-year coach Brian Willis makes no bones about what the team needs to do in 2012.

“If we play well every day, we’ll be in there at the end,” Willis said.

Heading up the charge to make sure the Lady Knights play well every day are Willis’ captains.

Senior pitcher Delani Vest, who has the advantage of being on the Kaneland roster from the get-go this season, brings talent from inside the pitcher’s circle.

Other senior captains include infielder Samanatha Hansen and catcher McKinzie Mangers, and junior shortstop Allyson O’Herron.

“The people that left, we can’t replace them because they were such a valuable part of our team. We need to adjust to what we have,” Willis said.

With the four captains bringing experience to the forefront, the Lady Knights don’t look to see themselves playing catch-up.

“They are four girls that have been with me since I got here, and I expect their leadership on and off the field,” Willis said.

With the rotation set-up, first and foremost will be Vest.

“She’s very focused this year and close to the form she was back as a sophomore. As a captain and with her athletic ability, she’ll be ready to go,” Willis said.

Accompanying Vest in the rotation is returning pitcher and outfielder Alexis Villarreal, a senior.

“Alexis got a lot of valuable innings last year, she worked hard in the offseason and threw an awesome game on Friday night,” Willis said.

McKinzie Mangers returns to complete the battery in her final KHS season.

Freshman Paige Kuefler mans third base, and is off to a prolific start behind the plate.

O’Herron returns at shortstop and brings consistency on the offensive and defensive end.

At second, Hansen and sophomore Allie Miller are giving coaches a tough decision.

Rosary transfer Hayley Contorno takes over at first as a sophomore, coming off good numbers in Aurora at first and hurler a year ago.

“She’s established herself not only as a solid ballplayer but a solid person,” Willis said.

In the outfield, Kaneland expects to see sophomore slugger Lanie Callaghan return to full strength next month, along with juniors Danielle McCormack, Kristen Gabrielson, Sarah Grams and Taylor Krawczyk, Morgan Newhouse and Lexi Roach looking for innings.

“We have a nice mix of seniors, juniors and sophomores. They want to keep our program strong and don’t want to go out on a negative note,” Willis said.

Softball drops 2 initial contests of ‘12

KANELAND—It was unfortunate that the end result of Kaneland Lady Knights softball failed to match the ideal weather of the past week.

Despite hanging tough with both Marengo and Jacobs high schools, the Lady Knights began 2012 with two losses.

In the season opener against the host Lady Indians off of Route 20, KHS fell 5-3, despite pounding out 10 hits.

Captain Delani Vest suffered the loss in the pitcher’s circle.

Encouraging developments included varsity newcomer Paige Kuefler going 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored, while Lexi Roach went 2-for-4.

The Lady Knights took a 1-0 lead before Marengo tied it in the bottom of the second. Kaneland went up 2-1 before Marengo put up two each in the bottom of the fifth, as well as the sixth.

Against Jacobs of Algonquin, Ill., Alexis Villarreal went 6.2 innings and gave up two runs on eight hits before surrendering the differential run in the top of the seventh in a 2-1 setback.

Kuefler went 2-for-3 with a double, triple and run scored.

Softball was set to face off with visiting Burlington Central on Wednesday, and looks for a weekend win against Oswego in Maple Park on Saturday, March 24.

Texas Hold ‘Em for KHS Baseball, softball

KANELAND—Kaneland Baseball and Softball are the first annual Texas Hold’Em Tournament on Saturday, Feb. 18, at Elburn Community Center located at 525 Main Street. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., with the first deal at 7 p.m. It’s a $100 donation, with a $25 donation if only eating and drinking.

Register with or Walk-ins are welcomed. Food and beverages are included. Prizes awarded to all players that make final table. Sports memorabilia and silent auction items are also available. Opportunities for re-buys and add-ons during tournament are available. If interested, please contact Brian Willis or Brian Aversa for the complete tournament structure.

KHS spring sports awards put fitting cap on 2010-11

KANELAND—Coming a little later due to the storybook run of Kaneland baseball, KHS released its spring sports awards for 2010-11, highlighting a successful first step into Northern Illinois Big XII play.

In girls track, Lauren Zick and Andie Strang took home the co-MVP for track, while Brooke Patterson was named MVP on the field end. For most improved, Abby Dodis and Briana Stark took home the honor.

Sydney Bilotta, Strang, Kris Bowen, Jessica Stouffer and Keara Palpant were recognized as captains.

Zick and Patterson were joined by Gabby Aguirre as part of the Northern Illinois Big XII (NIB-12) All-Conference squad. Strang (1600 meter run, 4x800m relay), Bowen (4x800m relay), Patterson (pole vault), Sydney Strang (4x800m relay) and Zick (400m dash, 4x800m relay) were also recognized for their State trip.

For boys track, Taylor Andrews and Tommy Whittaker were named track MVP’s, while teammate Matt Spitzzeri took the field MVP. Curtis Secrest was given the Drendel Award.

Secrest, Trevor Holm, Whittaker, Andrews, Matt Cowans and Spitzzeri were recognized as captains, and Kory Harner took the Ron Probst Award.

The NIB-12 also named Andrews, Spitzzeri, Whittaker, Holm, Brandon Cottier, Mickey Marin and Jesse Balluff as part of the All-Conference squad.

Harner, Marin, Luis Acosta, Clayton Brundige, Balluff, Brandon Bishop, Dylan Nauert, Sean Carter, Holm, Cottier, Whittaker, Andrews and Secrest were all recognized for their State qualifying efforts.

In soccer, Emily Heimerdinger secured an All-State honor, capping her four-year output in style, while also named the NIB-12 MVP. The Class of 2011 member was also named co-MVP for the Lady Knights with teammate Amy Fabrizius.

Conference-wide, Heimerdinger, Fabrizius, Sophia Blank and Sam Wantuch were named to the All-Conference team.

Katie Taylor earned the Lady Knights Award, while Blank took home the Coach’s Award.

Keeper Michelle Ortiz was named Rookie of the Year, while Wantuch was named Most Improved Player for the roster that made it to the regional championship. Blank, Fabrizius, Heimerdinger and Taylor were also recognized as captains.

In softball, McKinzie Mangers and Andrea Potts were recognized as captains, while Allyson O’Herron took home the Lady Knight Award.

Potts was also named the Offensive Player of the Year.

Alexis Villarreal was named Most Improved Player for her efforts on the mound, and teammate Rilee Vest was named Defensive Player of the Year for the Lady Knights softball unit.

Additionally, Potts was a unanimous selection to the NIB-12 All-Conference team as an infielder. Vest and Katy Dudzinski were named as honorable mention candidates.

For the State Champion Knights baseball program, Bobby Thorson was named team Offensive MVP.

Kyle Davidson, Jake Razo and Brian Dixon took the Defensive MVP awards, and Dixon, Razo and Tyler Heinle were named Most Improved Players.

The No. 41 award was given to Sam Komel, Corey Landers and Dixon.

Mr. Kaneland Baseball was given out to the whole of the 2011 Class 3A State winners.

Additionally, Kaneland held the Senior Athletic Banquet Awards in June, giving the Knight Award for three-sport athletes to Stouffer, Strang and Davidson.

Strang was named female athlete of the year, while Andrews was named male athlete of the year. Strang also won the female Birkette Award, while the male Birkette Award went to Curtis Secrest.

Softball reaches end of 2011 season with loss to Sycamore

Photo: Rilee Vest (catcher) prepares for a play at the plate during Thursday’s 2-1 loss to Sycamore. Photo by Mary Herra

KANELAND—With the rivalry between Kaneland and Sycamore softball, the battle is bound to shift one way when the stakes are higher at a certain point.

For 2011, the edge went to the Lady Spartans.

A slim 2-1 win in the Class 3A Kaneland Regional semifinal ended the Lady Knights’ campaign.

Sycamore went on to defeat Burlington Central in the regional final on Saturday, and was slated to play Geneseo on Thursday, June 2, in the Rochelle Sectional.

Sycamore also bested Kaneland in last year’s Sycamore Regional title game on May 29, 2010.

Kaneland finishes its season at 14-18.

The Lady Knights went up 1-0 in the top of the third inning, thanks to an RBI from Lanie Callaghan, but in the bottom of the fourth, Meranda Brashears’ two-run single put Sycamore ahead to stay.

Sycamore’s Abby Foulk was the winning pitcher, and Kaneland junior Delani Vest was on the losing end, going six innings.

Kaneland softball says goodbye to seniors Andrea Potts and Rilee Vest, two players who put the aluminum to the ball with frequency.

Potts is set to play at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, while Vest continues at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa.

Swing away

Photo: Rilee Vest and Andrea Potts enjoy the occasion on Thursday after recognition for their continuing softball careers in college. Photo by Mike Slodki

Bad news: Rilee Vest and Andrea Potts of Lady Knights softball will no longer be suiting up for Northern Illinois Big XII Conference action after the season concludes.

Good news: The two sluggers are bringing their bats to college programs where their skills will be appreciated.

Potts, who has supplied offense at the first base position for the Lady Knights, has made a verbal commitment to Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.

The Lady Cougars are 28-30 in 2011 and play in the Division II Ohio Valley Conference.

Potts is excited for the next stage of her softball life.

“I think my hitting is the strongest part of my game, and the mental part of my game and having more confidence has been more consistent,” Potts said.

The Cougars program is also home for former Lady Knight softball standout, senior infielder Laurie Siebert.

SIUE has been coached by Sandy Montgomery since 1989, and had a streak of 14 straight 30-win seasons from 1996-2009. SIUE won the National Championship in 2007.

Vest, who has manned the catching post for coach Brian Willis’ crew, heads to Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, after a verbal commitment.

“The coach really wanted me for the team and that made an impression on me,” Vest said.

Cornell, part of the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, gets a slugger who feels like her best softball days could be ahead.

“I was recruited as a catcher, and that’s the part of my game I’ve really worked hard to improve,” Vest said.

Lady Knights get last swings before playoffs

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—At the very least, Lady Knights softball can be encouraged by the offense going into an uncertain playoff campaign.

KHS lit up the Saturday scoreboard with a doubleheader sweep of Rosary, 9-8 and 14-4 in five innings, after dropping a 5-2 decision to Marengo on Thursday.

The Lady Knights finished the regular season at 14-17.

In the first game on Saturday, Rosary took a 7-5 lead afrer two in the top of the fourth. After going ahead 8-5 in the top of the sixth, KHS rallied with a four-run barrage in the bottom of the sixth, and retired the Royals in the seventh for the win.

Rilee Vest went 2-for-3 with two RBI, while Katy Dudzinski went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI.

The second game went well for Kaneland, as they put up runs in every inning of play, and went out to an 8-1 lead after two. The Lady Knights won it with one run in the bottom of the fifth, putting a cap on a 17-hit outing.

Andrea Potts went 2-for-4 with two HR’s and six driven in, while Vest went 3-for-4 with and RBI. Teammate Sam Hansen went 2-for-2 with three runs.

Dudzinski suffered the loss against the visiting Indians on Thursday.

In underclass action on Thursday, the JV team put up 14 runs in the first inning en route to a 29-2 win over Rockford East.

The sophomores swept host Rosary, 5-3 and 11-10.

Scheduled for Thursday, May 26, was Kaneland’s first regional test as the No.3 seed in the Kaneland Regional against second-seeded Sycamore. The winner of the Sycamore-Kaneland matchup was slated to face either No. 1 Burlington Central or No. 4 Rochelle for the regional title on Saturday, May 28, at 11 a.m.

The Kaneland Regional winner moves on against potential opponents like Sterling or Geneseo in the Rochelle Sectional on Thursday, June 2.

Softball suffers setbacks to Minooka, Yorkville

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—There’s still a little bit of time to make Maple Park feel like home-field advantage, but not much.

With three regular season contests left, the Lady Knights are trying to put three losses behind them.

On Thursday, the Lady Knights were defeated by host Yorkville in the bottom of the eighth inning, 6-4, and were swept by Minooka on Saturday, 7-1 and 11-5.

Kaneland now sits at 12-17 with a 3-7 mark in Northern Illinois Big XII Conference play.

Against the Lady Foxes, the hitting was supplied by Andrea Potts, who went 3-for-4 with two doubles and three RBI. Delani Vest scattered six runs on nine hits while pitching all eight innings.

The lone run in game one on Saturday was supplied by a steal of home from Lanie Callaghan.

Alexis Villarreal fanned three and gave up seven runs on nine hits, but has shown a tendency to put a losing effort behind her.

“She threw the ball well today, it’s those one or two bad innings that we have,” KHS coach Brian Willis said. “We executed, had the right defense out there. We missed a couple clutch hits, but you’re playing a quality team out there.”

In game two, KHS was up 5-1 before allowing 10 runs in the sixth inning.

Kaneland hosts Marengo on Thursday, May 19, at 4:30 p.m.

Softball grabs two victories after tough May stretch

Photo: McKinzie Mangers seems to be safe at home but was called out in the sixth inning of Kaneland’s 3-2 home win against Rochelle on Tuesday. Both Kaneland and Rochelle brandished pink items on their uniforms for a “Pink Out” raising awareness of breast cancer. Photo by John DiDonna

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Welcome to the dog days of May.

After losses to Morris, Sycamore, Yorkville and non-conference Elk Grove High School, the Lady Knights managed wins against Oswego East and Rochelle, situating themselves at 12-14 (3-6 NIB-12).

The most recent wins were welcome, as the Lady Knights have now suffered 13 losses in their last 18 contests.

Against the visiting Lady Redskins of Morris, Kaneland fell behind early and often in a 13-9 setback on May 4.

Morris plated four runs in the first, followed by two in the third and two in the fourth for an 8-0 lead. Kaneland’s attack finally woke up in the fifth with seven runs, cutting the deficit to 8-7. Morris came back with four in the top of the sixth to go up 12-7 before KHS closed to within 12-9 with two more runs in the bottom of the sixth. Morris then clinched the deal with another run in the top of the seventh inning.

Kaneland was also plagued by five runs in the loss, and Brittney Miller was the losing pitcher.

Traveling to Sycamore, and down 1-0 in the top of the second inning, right fielder Sarah Kitz’ two-out RBI single scored Rilee Vest to tie the game. Vest had led off matters with a double.

Unfortunately, the Lady Spartans plated one in the bottom of the third, and got a two-run shot by Brittany Huber in the bottom of the fourth to go up 4-1. Kaneland’s Miller surrendered two more runs in the fifth before surrendering a grand slam to Huber to make it 10-1.

“We’re setting those innings up for them by making errors and not making the little plays,” KHS coach Brian Willis said. “(Sycamore) came through, credit to them, but if we make the plays before the home run, she doesn’t even get a chance to bat.”

Kitz drove home the second KHS run on a single with the bases loaded.

In the top of the seventh, freshman Lanie Callaghan belted a two-run shot to make the final 10-4 margin.

On Friday in Maple Park, Yorkville bested Kaneland in a 14-inning marathon by an 8-7 margin. Andrea Potts went 3-for-6 with three doubles. Alexis Villarreal pitched the first two innings, followed by a returning Delani Vest who went eight innings.

In Saturday’s doubleheader at the home of the elite Lady Grenadiers, the Lady Knights lost 10-0 in five innings, and 11-1 in five innings.

Monday saw Kaneland solve the host pack of Wolves by a 9-2 final. Kaneland put up four runs in the second, three in the sixth and two in the seventh to clinch.

Against Rochelle on Tuesday, Villarreal’s complete-game effort, in which she surrendered just two runs on seven hits with six K’s was key in the 3-2 victory.

The win also took place during the Lady Knights’ “Pink Out” to raise awareness of breast cancer.

In underclass action, the sophomores lost 5-1 to Yorkville despite Elyssa Eckert’s triple.

Meanwhile, Allie Miller earned the win on the mound and doubled at the plate, as the sophomores used a 13-run fourth inning en route to a 17-4 win over YHS.

The varsity lineup travels to Yorkville High School for a Thursday, May 12, encounter.

Lady Knights swing bats valiantly in two losses

KANELAND—On Monday, Kaneland dealt with a makeup game against the visiting Lady Bulldogs of Streator. The Lady Knights might wish that game stayed shelved.

The Lady Knights folllowed that matchup with a 9-7 loss in DeKalb on Tuesday.

As of Wednesday, the Lady Knights softball squad is 10-9 with a 2-3 record in NIB-12 conference play.

Two innings of five runs each were key, as were 14 hits off of Kaneland pitching in a 14-0 rout at the hands of Streator.

KHS could manage only one hit, and made five errors in the field.

After Kaneland put up two runs in the top of the first, DeKalb countered with one in the first, one in the second and two in the fourth for a 4-2 lead.

Kaneland tied it with two in the fifth, but the Lady Barbs came back with four in the bottom of the fifth. After plating one more in the sixth for a 9-4 lead.

DeKalb deflected a three-run rally in the seventh to hand KHS the loss.

Ahead for Kaneland is a trip to Sycamore on Thursday, May 5.

Lady Knights sweep Dixon

KANELAND—Only one way to make any headway on spring cleaning.

If you’re KHS softball, get out the brooms. That’s exactly what the Lady Knights did in a pair of doubleheader wins over host Dixon High School on Saturday.

The fortunate 8-0 and 6-1 doubleheader wins came on the heels of an 8-5 loss to the host Ottawa Lady Pirates on Thursday.

Kaneland’s current mark is 10-7 (2-2 Northern Illinois Big XII), and looked to steady itself after the loss to Ottawa had them in a six losses-in-seven games quagmire.

In the first game on Saturday, Kaneland posted a six-spot in the top of the first inning and two more in the second.

Alexis Villarreal scattered just four hits and fanned three on the way to victory in the pitcher’s circle.

At the plate, Allyson O’Herron was 2-for-3 with two walks and two runs scored. Andrea Potts went 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBI, while teammate Lanie Callaghan went 2-for-3 with a triple and two driven in.

Game two was won by Brittney Miller at the pitching post, as she went six innings with seven K’s and seven hits surrendered. Callaghan went 2-for-3, and Potts hit her second homer of the twinbill, a three-run dinger in the top of the first.

Against Ottawa, Kaneland led 3-2 in the fourth until Ottawa plated three in the fourth to put the Lady Knights behind 5-3. After scoring once in the top of the fifth, Ottawa came back with two more in the fifth to hold off Kaneland’s one-run rally in the top of the seventh.

Kaneland’s Rilee Vest went 2-for-3 with an RBI in the losing effort.

In underclass action, the sophomore Lady Knights executed a 7-1 and 8-6 doubleheader victory over Dixon. Elyssa Eckert struck out 10 and doubled for KHS, while Sarah Grams tripled and homered in a two-RBI effort. In game two, Maddy Hester went 3-for-4 with a triple.

Softball stops skid vs. Hubs

KANELAND—Kaneland used a solid pitching performance from junior Alexis Villarreal and two downright offensive innings at the plate for a 9-1 win in Rochelle on April 13.

Softball stopped a five-game losing skid with the triumph and improved to 8-6 with a 2-2 record in Northern Illinois Big XII Conference play.

Kaneland used five runs in the top of the third inning, coupled with a four-spot in the top of the sixth to cinch the win.

With the bats, Andrea Potts went 3-for-4, while teammate Katy Dudzinski went 2-for-4 with a double, home run and 5 RBI.

In the sophomore tilt, Kaneland took Rochelle to an 8-4 loss. Elyssa Eckert earned the win with eight strikeouts to her name, and Aly Harner went 2-for-3. Sarah Grams contributed a triple.

The Lady Knights take a trek to Ottawa Township High School for a meeting with the host Pirates on Thursday, April 21.

When Kaneland softball finds itself on the winning end of things, these three
Lady Knights have a good afternoon.
• Andrea Potts—
.500 AVG., 5 HR,
25 RBI
• Katy Dudzinski—
.436 AVG., 5 HR,
16 RBI
• Allyson O’Herron—
.354 AVG., .483 OBP.,
12 RBI

Softball suffers loss streak after Wednesday win

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Better to suffer through a streak like the one Kaneland softball is having now, than late-season.

Five losses have followed an April 6 tussle at Hoffman Estates that found softball emerging victorious.

KHS still remains above .500, at 7-6, with a 1-2 Northern Illinois Big XII mark.

Sycamore came into Kaneland on Tuesday and used a five-run second inning to lift to a 9-3 win over the Lady Knights.

Monday saw Kaneland score a single run in the seventh inning to no avail in a 4-1 loss. Andrea Potts went 3-for-3 with a double, however.

Saturday saw KHS get swept by NIB-12 crossover opponent, the host Geneseo Maple Leafs, 8-2 and 8-0.

On Thursday, DeKalb bested the host Lady Knights 15-4 in six innings.

Wednesday against the host Hawks, Rilee Vest got things started with a two-run home run in the top of the first.

“”The pitch was a little bit inside,” Vest said. “I just got in front of it and knocked it, I guess.”

HEHS came back with two in the third, but Kaneland erupted thanks to five runs in the fourth and two in the fifth on RBI singles by McKinzie Mangers and pitcher Alexis Villarreal.

Villarreal went six innings in the winning effort, and Taylor Velazquez shut down the Mid-Suburban League squad with runners in scoring position.

“It was all pre-determined by the coaches, we didn’t want Alexis to lose that game. She pitched her butt off,” coach Brian Willis said.

Ahead for KHS is a matchup with host Rochelle on Thursday, April 14.

Softball off to 6-1 start as Northern Illinois Big XII slate begins

Photo: Taylor Velazquez deals toward the dish in a 9-5 game-one victory over host Oswego on Saturday. The Lady Knights also took the second game, 14-8. Photo by Ben Draper

KANELAND—It appears that Kaneland High School softball was happy to get acquainted with Northern Illinois Big XII Conference action.

On Tuesday afternoon down Route 47 in Morris, Kaneland began new conference play with a 20-9 victory over the host Morris Lady Redskins, making good on its first conference action of 2011.

Kaneland had previously played four seasons in the former Western Sun Conference.

Now, the Lady Knights, with some holdover veterans but skewing young, sits at 6-1 after the win over Morris and a Saturday doubleheader sweep of the host Oswego Lady Panthers on Saturday morning, 9-5 and 14-8.

KHS also disposed of host Sandwich, 8-0 on Monday.

While Taylor Velazquez started the game, Katy Dudzinski earned the win in the pitcher’s circle after 2.2 innings of relief, allowing just one run on four hits.

Dudzinski also walloped two home runs and a double in a 3-for-4, six RBI afternoon.

Teammate Brittney Miller went 3-for-5 with two doubles and 3 RBI.

Slugger Andrea Potts went 3-for-5 with two doubles and two runs driven in.

After taking a 4-3 lead after three innings, Kaneland plated one in the fifth for a 5-3 advantage before Morris scored five in the bottom of the frame to lead 8-5.

Kaneland then took to the bases and scored seven runs each in the sixth and seventh to put the game away.

Taylor Velazquez was the game-one winner against Oswego, while Alexis Villarreal was the game-two beneficiary.

Velazquez also took the win against the Lady Indians.

KHS was set to travel to Hoffman Estates on Wednesday before hosting conference rival DeKalb on Thursday, April 7.

Softball hopes ‘young guns’ are consistent

Photo: Senior Rilee Vest will be an offensive leader for the 2011 Lady Knights softball team. Vest will also see more time behind the plate, catching for a pitching staff that head coach Brian Willis hopes will find some consistency. File Photo

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Looks like the younger core of softball players will get a chance to get some more playing time in 2011.

Kaneland looks to avenge a regional championship loss to Sycamore and get back to the heights of a 20-11 season of a year ago.

They’ll have to replace three valuable seniors of a year ago, and 13 wins from former pitcher Delani Vest.

“We are still young, and only two seniors here,” said second-year coach Brian Willis. “This team will be a lot like last year’s team. Hopefully somebody will surprise with pitching. Offensively, we’ll be fine, defensively we’re a work in progress.”

Luckily, the two seniors on the team are noted contributors: Rilee Vest and Andrea Potts, whom Willis regarded as quality catchers who supply offense.

“We have pitchers that can throw the ball well, but we are looking for some consistency,” Willis said.

In the mix for the pitchers’ circle is junior Alexis Villarreal, junior Katy Dudzinski and sophomore Taylor Velazquez.

McKinzie Mangers plays the third baseman role as a junior, highly touted sophomore Allyson O’Herron is at shortstop, freshman Allison Miller debuts at second, and Potts at first.

The outfield shows the returning Samantha Hansen, a junior, while freshman Lanie Callaghan takes the centerfield slot and junior Brittney Miller in right.

Shoring up the infield is junior Sarah Kitz and freshman Lexi Roach.

Willis mentioned Miller and Hansen as players that eased into varsity roles last year and will make the most of their opportunities in 2011.

Kaneland hopes the lineup comes together in the midst of the new Northern Illinois Big XII arrangement.

“It gives us a lot to live up to, and I hope softball can play up to the level of the other sports who have done well in conference,” Willis said. “We’ve simplified a lot of things offensively and defensively, where they might have been too complicated a year ago. I think that’s going to help us.”

Lady Chiefs earn two early wins

Photo: Former Lady Knight Sara Rose is expected to contribute heavily to coach Perry Clark’s Waubonsee softball roster. WCC Sports Info

WAUBONSEE—WCC Softball ready for fun in sun to start 2011 season.

Waubonsee Community College began 2011 with a 2-1 record after stops in St. Louis and St. Charles, Mo.

Under 14th-year coach Perry Clark, the Lady Cheifs beat Florissant Valley CC 6-0 on Thursday, beat Lindenwood University’s JV team 12-10 on Saturday and lost to Fishbonne University 8-1.

Additionally, in a suspended game on Thursday, stopped after WCC went up 10-0 after two innings, former Kaneland standout Sara Rose doubled and homered.

In the win over Lindenwood, freshman Brittany Davis, 2010 graduate of KHS, went 2-for-4.