Northern IL Thunder 18U displays hardware after the tournament in Columbus, Ind. Sam Okapal (bottowm row, left to right), Brittany Boelter, Brittany Davis, Kristen Stralka, Rebecca Randall and Ali Hoffman. Head Coach Dave Randall (top row), Assistant Coach John Stralka, Avery Vivian, Kim Pierce, Lauren Vitiello, Courtney Bosteder, Kelly Coleman, Rae Bosteder and Assistant Coach Marsha Vitiello. Courtesy Photo
KANELANDâ€”Kaneland High School dished out end of the year and spring speason sports awards last week.
In Knights boys track and field, Logan Markuson was named the Track MVP, while Nick Sinon, state champ in high jump, was named Field MVP. Edgar Valle, also a state champ as part of the 4×400 relay , was named recipient of the Drendel Award. Markuson, Derek Bus, Joe Levita, Brett Ketza, Justin Choate and Sinon were recognized as captains. Andrew Essex was named winner of the Ron Probst Award. Sinon, Markuson, Taylor Andrews, Valle, Bus, Matt Reusche, Matt Spitzzeri, Sean Paulick, Tommy Whittaker, Dominic Furco, Trevor Holm and Levita were recognized as the final Kaneland representatives for the all-Western Sun Conference team.
Brandon Cottier, Essex, Curtis Secrest, Whittaker, Spitzzeri, Valle, Bus, Taylor Andrews, Markuson, Levita, Holm and Sinon were all lauded for their trip to the Class 2A State Finals in Charleston, Ill.
For girls track, Lisa Roberson and Andie Strang, both State-goers, were named co-Track MVPâ€™s, while Brooke Patterson, fresh off a trip to Charleston, was named field MVP.
Mel Mazuc and Nicole Ketza were part of a group of three named most improved field athletes, along with Briana Stark in long jump. Hurdler Hillary Luse took the most improved track athlete award.
Roberson and Sydney Bilotta were recognized as captains, while Patterson, Ashley Castellanos and Gabby Aguirre were honored for their All-Western Sun Conference performances.
Strang (800 meter run, 4x800m relay), Roberson and Kris Bowen (4x800m), Sara Wallace (pole vault), Jessica Stouffer (4x800m), Patterson (pole vault, triple jump) and Castellanos (long jump) were lauded for their State trip.
For the 20-win softball team, first-year coach Brian Willis gave most outstanding defensive player to Jordan Hester and most outstanding offensive player to Andrea Dimmig-Potts. Samantha Hansen took home the most improved player award, Kristen Stralka and Brittany Davis got in on the Lady Knight Award, while 13-win pitcher Delani Vest was given the most outstanding player award.
In the freshman softball ranks, Elizabeth Eckert and Sarah Grams took the co-MVP honors, while Danielle McCormack won the Kaneland Knight award.
For baseball, Dave Dudzinski and Bobby Thorson were named recipients of the Mr. Kaneland Baseball award.
Jake Tickle, he of the 19-game hit streak during the season, was named offensive MVP, and Steve Colombe was crowned defensive MVP.
The 41 Award, in honor or Jeff Malewig, was given to Tickle and Jake Fiedler.
Thorson, Fiedler, Colombe and Tickle were all recognized for their All-Western Sun Conference honors.
For the 15-win girls soccer teamâ€™s history- making season, Megan Gil, Haley Johnson, Shelby Koester, Colleen Gebauer and Emily Heimerdinger were lauded for their captain-ship.
Amy Fabrizius was given the most improved player honor, and freshman goalkeeper Jordan Ginther was named Rookie of the Year.
Sophie Blank, Andie Bruce and Natalie Swieca won the coachâ€™s award. Gebauer and Katie Taylor were co-winners of the Lady Knights Award, while Heimerdinger and Gil took the MVP honors.
For the final awards of the night, the female Birkette award was given to Roberson. Markuson and Bus took home the male Birkette award.
Markuson was honored with the Male Athlete of the Year award, while Roberson was given the Female Athlete of the Year award.
Levita, for his time in cross country, wrestling and track, was honored for his three-sport commitment.
Photo: Lisa Roberson, shown here in relay action in Charleston, Ill., two weeks ago, was awarded Female Athlete of the Year and Female Birkette Award winner at last weekâ€™s 2010 Senior Athletic Banquet Awards. File Photo
SYCAMOREâ€”Maybe the scales were tipping to Sycamore all long.
After slaughtering the Lady Spartans in their first meeting, Kaneland Lady Knights softball dealt with 16 innings of action in a tight 2-1 win three weeks ago. It all led up to the Class 2A Sycamore Regional final on Saturday morning, where the third-seeded hosts beat the top-seeded KHS roster 6-3 to claim the regional.
Kaneland finishes the first year of the Brian Willis era at 20-11.
â€œIt was kind of the same game, but they had a few more extra walks. You have to put runs on the board. The difference with the last game is that we were able to get out of that jam,â€ Willis said.
Sycamore, coached by Jill Carpenter, improved to 20-15, was set to face St. Viator on Wednesday in the DeKalb Sectional.
Ending her sophomore season, Delani Vest was tagged with the loss (13-7) and gave up six runs (four earned) on 10 hits while fanning three.
At the plate, third baseman Andrea Dimmig-Potts went 2-for-3, while second baseman Brittany Davis went 2-for-3.
The scoring gates opened in the top of the second, when Anna Buzzard of Sycamore knocked home two runs with a single to increase Sycamoreâ€™s lead to 3-0.
Sycamore put up two in the fourth for a 5-0 lead and added one more with an RBI single to go up 6-0 headed to the bottom of the fifth.
Katy Dudzinski led the fifth off with a double and was sacrificed to third by Jordan Hester. Kristen Stralka singled Dudzinski home for the first run. After a fielders choice, Vest doubled and made it third on an error in the outfield and Sam Hansen scored.
The final run of the season scored when Davis came home after a three-base error on a fielders choice hit by Dudzinski.
Stralka, Sarah Kitz and Vest were retired in order to end the affair.
Davis, Stralka and Hester now say goodbye due to graduation.
â€œThey meant a lot to our team. Leadership-wise, offense, defense, theyâ€™ll be missed, â€œWillis said.
by Mike Slodki
KANELANDâ€”In a meeting of two of the better Western Sun Conference teams on Thursday, the visiting Lady Raiders showed KHS who the team to beat might be this season.
Braving whipping winds, the Lady Knights fell victim to less-than-stellar defensive play and seven errors, along with timely Lady Raider hits in a 5-1 loss in Maple Park.
On Tuesday, the Lady Knights recovered with a 2-0 one-hit shutout of Geneva.
The Lady Knights are 10-6 with a 5-4 WSC record.
Glenbard South improved to 19-2 with an 8-0 WSC tally after its win over KHS.
Delani Vest struck out three and gave up two earned runs in the complete-game effort against the Lady Raiders.
The Lady Knights drew first blood in the bottom of the third. First baseman Kristen Stralka singled but was caught stealing. Vest reached on an error by the pitcher and stole second, and came home on a Brittany Davis grounder that was misplayed by the GS second baseman.
Glenbard South scored one in the fourth, two in the fifth, got a home run to left in the sixth, and scored one in the seventh to cap the day.
Kaneland threatened in the fourth and fifth innings, having two runners in scoring position with one out, but came up empty.
KHS coach Brian Willisâ€™ thinks a winning formula will find itself again if the Lady Knights take care of the ball.
â€œLast count I had was seven errors,â€ Willis said. â€œYou boot the ball that many times, youâ€™re not going to beat anybody whether its the fifth-ranked team in the state or the 500th-ranked team in the state. You give them too many opportunities and thatâ€™s whatâ€™s going to happen.â€
The sophomores lost 11-1 to Glenbard South, with the freshmen taking a 13-3, five-inning victory in their battle with the Lady Raiders.
Against host Geneva, the score was deadlocked at 0-0 before Andrea Dimming-Pottsâ€™ two RBI single broke the tie.
Vest helped her cause by going 3-for-3 with a run scored.
Photo: Sophomore pitcher Delani Vest will be counted on for a repeat performance. File Photo
by Mike Slodki
MAPLE PARKâ€”Despite finishing 27-9 in 2009, the Kaneland High School girls softball squad faces quite a number of challenges.
Thereâ€™s recovering from the heartbreaking extra-inning regional championship loss to Burlington Central, the third straight year of getting eliminated by the Rockets.
Thereâ€™s the acclimation of seven new faces to the varsity ranks, with just six upperclassmen on the team.
Thereâ€™s also the item of new and eager head coach Brian Willis, who also served time as an assistant after former coach Dennis Hansen was suspended.
Willis says not much has changed in his coaching style from being a lower-level coach in various Kaneland sports.
â€œRight now, itâ€™s all excitement and anticipation,â€ Willis said. â€œWeâ€™re trying to get the girls ready. I look at this as no different than the last eight years, except I talk to reporters now.â€
Willis is ready for the season-ending loss to be put in the rearview mirror.
â€œFrom that regional championship loss, thereâ€™s only two girls starting (Wednesday) that started that game. In a sense, that anxiety is there for girls like Delani (Vest) because she was the pitcher, but we have several freshmen and sophomores that werenâ€™t around,â€ Willis said.
Notably, Vest returns after posting a 17-6 record as a freshman inside the pitcherâ€™s circle, which itself is being moved back.
â€œThatâ€™s going to make a difference, and weâ€™ll get to see how Delani will react to that. With her leadership and competitiveness, she knows what it takes to get back to that championship game,â€ Willis said.
The jury is still out on Delaniâ€™s sister and battery mate Rilee, who is battling nagging injuries.
Junior catcher Andrea Dimmig-Potts returns as someone who saw her share of playing time and was capable of doing damage with one giant swing.
Seniors on the squad are outfielder Jordan Hester, and infielders Brittany Davis and Kristen Stralka.
â€œWeâ€™re moving forward. These returning girls are excited to get a fair shot, and they feel like itâ€™s their time,â€ Willis said.
Joining Vest as fellow hurlers look to be sophomore Alexis Villarreal and sophomore Katy Dudzinski, who saw spot starts in the varsity ranks a year ago, and sophomore Brittney Miller.
â€œItâ€™s a new coaching staff (Willis, Christine Bouffard and Joe Spittzeri), and we evaluated everyone equally at the start. Delani put herself in the top spot, and some of these other girls arenâ€™t too far behind,â€ Willis said.
Sophomore McKinzie Mangers will serve as catcher in case the other two possibilities are beset by injuries.
â€œWeâ€™ll be tested early behind the plate,â€ Willis said.
The infield will look younger on the left side and senior-laden on the right. Allyson Oâ€™Herron, a freshman, looks to contribute at shortstop.
â€œ(Oâ€™Herron) is very solid defensively and will make some freshman mistakes, but sheâ€™s also solid with the bat,â€ Willis said.
Fellow freshman Taylor Velazquez will get a look at third base.
Davis will be looked at around second base to serve as a cornerstone of the infield. Spots remain in a fight for outfield.
In terms of players who will see more sizable time this season and could surprise onlookers is Davis.
â€œSheâ€™s going to get out there every day and put up solid numbers and be a good player,â€ Willis said.
On the new arrivals, Willis pointed to Oâ€™Herron having a productive career at short for the next four years.
Other Lady Knights looking to contribute to the squad are sophomore infielder Sarah Kitz, sophomore outfielder Samantha Hansen and junior infielder Beth Smith.
â€œIf we finish in the middle of the conference and continue to get better every week and regionals come around and weâ€™re ready to roll, thatâ€™ll make me happy,â€ Willis said.
The regular season kicked off yesterday against BC, and WSC play begins on Tuesday, April 6, at Glenbard South. The regular season finale is Saturday, May 22, at Rosary.
by Mike Slodki
In a deadlocked softball game that was going down to the wire, any late run would do.
Unfortunately for Kaneland, the late runs were had by the visiting Geneva lineup.
A two-base error led to two runs coming home for the Lady Knightsâ€™ WSC rival in a 2-0 defeat on Tuesday.
The runs, which were scored in the top of the sixth inning, were the only runs in a contest that featured just five hits and 10 strikeouts combined.
KHS fell to 14-6 with a 5-3 record in Western Sun Conference play.
Delani Vest was tagged as the losing pitcher and fell to 9-3, despite eight Kâ€™s and just one walk.
The lone hits for the Lady Knights were a fifth-inning double by Chassidy Mangers and a third-inning single by Kristen Stralka.
â€œWe were swinging at bad pitches, and we werenâ€™t patient,â€ KHS coach Dennis Hansen said. â€œThe hitters were getting behind in the count, and no one really hit the ball hard.â€
Genevaâ€™s opportunity came in the top of the sixth when, with two runners on, a two-out ball went over the head of right fielder Jordan Herra, allowing the runners to score.
The Lady Knightsâ€™ last chance ended when Mangers grounded to second with a runner at second base to end the game.
The sophomores lost to Geneva 2-1, and the freshmen trounced the Lady Vikings 16-4 in five innings.
Kaneland goes to DeKalb on Thursday, May 7.
Photo: Kaneland first baseman Kristen Stralka looks to snag a throw from pitcher Delani Vest during Tuesdayâ€™s 2-0 conference loss to Geneva. Photo by John DiDonna
A busy week for Lady Knights softball left the varsity roster in pretty good shape through 10 contests.
Softball (6-4, 2-1 Western Sun Conference) took care of Hoffman Estates by a final of 1-0 on Wednesday, April 8, thanks to a sixth-inning single by Brianna Hurst. Delani Vest continued her impressive start and nabbed her third win in a row to go along with 10 strikeouts of the host Hawks.
The sophomores defeated Hoffman Estates by a 13-3 score in five innings. The freshmen team also took a five- inning victory by a 12-1 final. Sarah McGinnis earned the win on the mound.
On Thursday, the Lady Knights came back from a 3-0 deficit against the host Geneva Lady Vikings only to fall 4-3 in eight innings.
Mallory Huml took the loss and fanned three batters. Jessica Lubic went 2-for-4 in the losing effort.
The sophomores fell to the Vikings by a 4-2 final despite 10 K’s by pitcher Katy Dudzinski.
On Saturday, under sunny skies, the Lady Knights suffered a sweep at the hands of the visiting Indians, 7-1 and 2-0.
Delani Vest was tagged with her first loss, but struck out five. Sara Rose’s double accounted for one of the two KHS hits. The Lady Knights were also plagued by six errors in the field.
In game two, Marengo scored a single run in the sixth and seventh to get the win. Kaneland struggled at the plate again with just three hits, including a double by Jordan Herra (2-for-3). Kristen Stralka went 1-for-3.
Tuesday saw the Lady Knights get another strong outing from pitching and offense in a 9-4 handling of the WSC rival DeKalb Barbs.
Delani Vest improved to 4-1 and struck out seven. Lubic went 2-for-2 with 2 RBI, and Rilee Vest went 2-for-4 with 2 RBI. The offensive highlight was a seven-run third inning.
The varsity team heads to Yorkville on Thursday, April 16, to tackle the Lady Foxes and travels to Des Plaines for a Maine West doubleheader.
by Mike Slodki
On a windswept sunny Saturday, Kaneland softball kept Oswegoâ€™s head spinning.
A steady sweep, 17-0 in a six-inning game one, and 3-1 in game two. An additional 5-4 victory in eight innings over Glenbard South on Tuesday elevated Kanelandâ€™s mark to 4-1 (1-0 Western Sun Conference).
In the first game, freshman hurler Delani Vest improved to 2-0 while striking out four batters.
Vest also went 3-for-4 while Brittany Davis went 2-for-3.
The Lady Knights scored one run in the first inning and one in the third inning. A five-run fourth inning made it 7-0. Up 8-0, Kaneland poured on the offense and put up nine runs to send the game into retirement early.
In game two, Kaneland put up a three-spot in the third inning and freshmen Katy Dudzinski gave up only one run in her first varsity start en route to a 3-1 win.
Vest went 2-for-3 at the plate, while Tara Groen went 1-for-3 with two RBI.
The two freshmen pitchers did their part in place of pitching staff anchor Mallory Huml, away in Texas as part of a choir competition.
â€œThey both did well,â€ KHS coach Dennis Hansen said. â€œUsually, weâ€™re fighting to find pitchers. We didnâ€™t hit as well in the second game, but we got what we needed.â€
The three-run rally in the top of the second inning began with a leadoff double by Andrea Potts and a single by Vest. Rightfielder Kristen Stralka drove Potts home with an RBI single for a 1-0 lead. After a passed ball put runners at second and third, centerfielder Groen knocked a single to bring the other two runs in.
The Lady Knights were supposed to battle Sandwich on Monday, but the game was postponed due to weather.
Against the visiting Raiders, Kaneland found itself down 4-0 until scoring two runs in the fifth, two in the sixth and one in the eighth for the win.
Huml earned her first win of the season on the mound and struck out three. Sara Rose went 2-for-5 with a double and RBI. Potts went 1-for-4 with a two run double.
Kaneland was set to visit the Hoffman Estates Hawks on Wednesday before heading to Geneva for a Western Sun Conference clash on Thursday, April 9.
Photo: Delani Vest, seen throwing in the first game of a Saturday softball doubleheader at Oswego High School, delivers a winning effort in the 17-0 rout. Photo by Mary Herra
by Mike Slodki
While Kaneland girls softball had a successful 2008 season at 23-7 and pulled out a gritty 1-0 win over Rosary in a regional semifinal, it lost a heartbreaker in the championship to Burlington Central.
Now, KHS coach Dennis Hansen hopes the team takes all from last year, good and bad, and uses it for a springboard.
“We hopefully build on last year; it’s a different team and we have some new people waiting to step up,” Hansen said. “We have some girls playing new positions and will have a little more speed.”
Kaneland’s pitching factors in whatever success the Lady Knights have in ’09, and it starts with ace Mallory Huml (17-4 in 2008, 0-1 in 2009). “Her curve is what she does best, and we also have Delaney Vest, who got the win in the opener. She’ll try the outfield, as well,” Hansen said.
With Huml among the seven returning players, the Lady Knights also see the return of four-year starters Brianna Hurst (2B) and Sara Rose (SS), Chassidy Mangers, Jordan Herra, Erin Heyob and Jessica Lubic.
“Lubic is a good hitter who got some experience a year ago, and we expect big things at first base,” Hansen said.
In the outfield, a combination of Mangers, Vest, Herra and Jordan Hester look to patrol.
Andrea Dimmig-Potts will get a shot at third, and Rilee Vest sets up behind the plate.
Junior Kristen Stralka is in the outfield, junior Tara Groen joins her in that spot, junior Brittany Davis is at second and junior Erin Rocha is also in the outfield.
Hansen hopes the defense can become a strength.
“We have some things to work on based on the first two games, and hopefully it’ll be solid,” Hansen said.
Kaneland looks to do battle with tough Western Sun Conference squads, with some having a different look.
“Glenbard South went to State, lost some key people, but they can rebuild in a hurry. Sycamore could do well and DeKalb could surprise people,” Hansen said.
When 2009’s story gets told, the Lady Knights look to meet, step up to and surpass the challenges that met them in ’08.
“We came up against some good pitchers at the end, and we want to beat teams like that this year,” Hansen said.
Photo: Senior Mallory Huml fields some sharp ground balls at Tuesdayâ€™s softball practice in the Kaneland High School gym. Photo by Mary Herra