Tag Archives: nib12

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.

Wielding the hammer: Dyer goes National

Photo: Kaneland junior Nate Dyer brandishes the medals from recent competition under the USA Track and Field banner. Dyer is bringing talent in four events to the National Junior Olympics in Baltimore. Courtesy Photo

State and Regional totals pay off for junior Olympic-bound athlete
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—One would think that a summer full of footballs and pads would be enough for an ordinary student.

With incoming KHS junior Nate Dyer, there are qualifying factors, however.

Dyer is also dealing in hammers, javelins, shots and discs, and he’s putting up an effort that is extraordinary.

Dyer, who as an impressive aside, qualified for the IHSA Class 2A Track and Field meet in shot and discus, is set to compete at the USA Track and Field National Junior Olympics at Hughes Stadium on the campus of Morgan State University in Baltimore, Md.

The week-long fest occurs from Tuesday, July 23, through Monday, July 29.

Dyer’s showing at Franklin University’s Regional Junior Olympics in Franklin, Ind., (July 7-8), that included first places in both the hammer throw and shot put, and second places in the discus and javelin, allowed him to make plans to travel with his family to the athletic showcase on the east coast.

Dyer won’t be intimidated.

“Once you get there, it’s more doing what you’re comfortable with,” Dyer said. “You don’t want to try and change up stuff.”

Dyer, who first qualified for the National stage in 2010, made headway in the State Junior Olympics held in Kankakee, Ill., back on June 22-24.

All he did there was take first in the javelin and shot put, plus set the state record in the hammer throw by 19 feet.

That high trajectory of performance is not just sheer talent, as Dyer knows the value of taking mentors advice to heart.

“I listen to all the coaches in every sport and what they tell me,” Dyer said. “A big influence is usually my dad, and he researches a lot. He never played, what I played but he’s organized and looks into details, and that helps. I never have to worry.”

Dyer’s numbers in regionals took place against other elite athletes from Illinois and Indiana in Region 7. He was sponsored by DeKalb Huskies track.

The Knight athlete can expect big things against competitors from the other 49 states if he can duplicate a similar outcome in an event like the shot put, which saw him ace the grouping by three-and-a-half feet.

“There is kind of a lot of pressure. The first year that I did this, I didn’t really know much about it, but I ended up throwing almost 160 with the little disc and placed third two years ago, and we have expectations,” Dyer said.

Next year’s USATF elite national gathering is set for Greensboro, NC, on the campus of North Carolina A&T University, but Dyer elects to attack what’s in front of him at the moment.

For now, that’s javelin marks, followed by Northern Illinois Big XII ball-carriers.

“Once I get through State and Regionals, there’s more competition,” Dyer said. “I just try to qualify and get the job done.”

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.

NIB-12 roster to drop by 1 in 2014

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Northern Illinois Big XII action is going to look different in a couple of years.

Kaneland athletics director Leigh Jaffke was informed by e-mail on Friday that Dixon will leave the NIB-12.

“Their superintendent suggested they look elsewhere,” Jaffke said on Tuesday. “They were open and upfront and now the conference has to look for new options.”

Jaffke also said Streator High School was looking for a new conference on suggestions of its superintendent but could not find appropriate suitors.

“According to bylaws, Dixon has two years left in the conference, and the conference will see who’s out there. We’d like to expand and get eight and eight on either side,” Jaffke said.

Jaffke said the conference had been talking with two schools recently, but the locations by the Indiana and Iowa border was an obstacle.

“The travel would be insurmountable,” Jaffke said.

With Dixon’s departure, the West Division is left with five teams: Geneseo, LaSalle-Peru, Ottawa, Sterling and Streator.

Regional heartbreak for soccer

Photo: Taylor Opperman moves the ball during the Class 2A regional semifinal loss at Burlington Central on May 16. Photo by John DiDonna

by Mike Slodki
BURLINGTON—Kaneland High School’s current senior crop is the only group in school history to only know regional final action.

After the Class 2A regional semifinal at Burlington Central on May 16, those Lady Knights won’t even know that feeling again.

A hard-luck match against Crystal Lake Central (9-7) ended in a 1-0 loss.

Burlington Central then defeated Crystal Lake Central on Saturday evening in three overtimes for the regional plaque.

Kaneland’s loss dropped the season record to 12-6-1 (7-2-1 NIB-12).

Goalkeeper Jordan Ginther made key stops throughout the game, but Crystal Lake Central’s offense was on the move most of the match. Coupled with Kaneland’s choppy offense, it made for tough going capped by Maddie Edwards’ goal with seven minutes, 45 seconds left. Edwards launched a shot that landed in the right corner of the goal.

“She nailed it,” KHS coach Scott Parillo said. “Most goalies don’t even attempt at nailing that thing. If you’re going to lose, lose on a shot like that.”

“We were just hoping we could get things going,” Parillo said. “We just didn’t seem to be able to get anything going today. That’s a bummer.”

The Lady Knights had given up just 14 goals in the 2012 campaign.

Kaneland finished the season 7-3 in its last 10 matches, and was hoping to get through CLC for a date with BC, which had vanquished them on May 12.

Kaneland had lost the regional championship to CLC in 2009.

The Lady Knights went to a regional title match in 2010 and 2011, only to drop to Rosary.

KHS says goodbye in 2012 to Taylor White, Katie Taylor, Melissa Bohorquez and Abby Bend due to graduation.

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.

Baseball wins third straight conference title

Photo: Shortstop Trever Heinle saves the ball from the outfield on a high throw while a Yorkville player steals second during a recent Kaneland-Yorkville game. Photo by John DiDonna

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—This is getting to be old hat for the Kaneland Knights baseball team.

But that hat is representing a crown right now, based on Northern Illinois Big XII East Division supremacy.

With a Thursday win in Morris, the Knights officially secured an outright title, making it the third year in a row for a conference title.

Kaneland won the first ever NIB-12 title last year enroute to a State championship, and also captured the last Western Sun Conference title in 2010.

With the win over Morris, coupled with a May 9 win over the host Redskins, a 2-0 loss to LaSalle-Peru on Saturday and a 9-3 win at Sterling on Monday, the Knights are 21-9 with a 13-2 NIB-12 mark.

Against Sterling, the Knights scored in every inning but the fourth and seventh in the win over the Golden Warriors.

Taking advantage of four errors, the Knights were paced in the batters box by Jake Razo, who went 2-for-4 with a double and triple, along with Quinn Buschbacher’s 2-for-3 day with a home run.

Matt Limbrunner earned the win, going six innings and fanning three.

Kaneland and the Cavaliers were deadlocked for eight innings before L-P scored two in the ninth for the win.

Brian VanBogaert took the loss in relief to go 5-3, while Tom Fox went 2-for-4, securing two of the team’s hits.

In the conference clincher over the host Redskins in Grundy County, Kaneland clawed back from a 2-0 deficit to score one in the fifth and two in the sixth, thanks to Ray Barry’s bat.

Buschbacher also went 1-for-2 with a run scored.

Brian VanBogaert took the win in relief and improved to 5-2.

In the May 9 win in Morris, Kaneland’s two-run fifth broke a 2-2 tie, and Trevor Storck’s complete-game effort improved his mark to 5-0. Storck struck out seven and scattered just six hits.

Razo went 3-for-4 at the plate with two runs scored.

With a conference title in the books, KHS coach Brian Aversa looks for the pitching staff to keep plugging along, no matter what role.

“The roles of the pitching staff are still pretty fluid. Right now Hopkins and Storck are the two guys we are starting. VanBogaert and Limbrunner can start or relieve along with (Jordan) Jones. Things are shaping up kind of like last year as John being a pretty dominant pitcher and Storck as well with keeping runs off the board,” Aversa said.

Kaneland was scheduled to face Cary-Grove in a road game on Thursday, May 17.

___

KHS baseball heads to
Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva
to play Batavia in a special Pack the Park
Senior Night on Friday, May 18.
Sophomores play at 4:30 p.m., varsity will follow.
Admission: $5 for adults, $4 for high school,
middle school students, $3 for elementary students,
free for children 3 and under.
Proceeds benefit Kaneland teacher Bridget Sweeney and her family. Sweeney is battling cancer.

KHS boys one point short of NIB-12 bragging rights

Photo: Kaneland’s Nate Dyer is about to throw the discus a conference-best 148 feet, nine inches, at the NIB-12 Conference track meet on Friday at DeKalb High School. Photo by John DiDonna

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Kaneland boys track had many competitors contributing to a winning effort during Friday’s second-ever Northern Illinois Big XII meet out at DeKalb’s Dresser Road digs.

Too bad Dixon had more of a winning effort, just one point more.
It’s fuel that will go toward motivation for a winning night at the Rochelle Sectional on Thursday, May 17.

Kaneland’s 97 points were second only to Dixon’s 98.

Sterling (78), Sycamore (75) and Rochelle (50) rounded out the top five with Yorkville, Geneseo, LaSalle-Peru, DeKalb and Ottawa completing the top 10.

Kaneland’s frosh-soph outfit took fourth.

The Knights’ relay personnel are as fast as ever, judging by the work in Barb-land.

Kyle Carter, Nate Kucera, Clayton Brundige and Conor Johnson took care of the 4x800m relay field with a time of eight minutes, 8.94 seconds, while 4x100m relay speedsters Brandon Bishop, Brandon Cottier, Dylan Nauert and Sean Carter won their race at 43.24 seconds.

In the 4x200m relay event, Dylan Pennington, Bishop, Cottier and Sean Carter won with a time of 1:29.88.

Hurdling went Nauert’s way when he ran a 40.20 second race, while Sean Carter finished second in the 200m dash with a time of 22.59, just .01 behind Dixon’s Scott Good.

Cottier, Nauert, Kucera and Sean Carter ran the 4x400m relay with a first-place time of 3:25.53.

Sophomore Nate Dyer continued his impressive campaign with a 148 foot, nine inch, first-place discus throw.

Tanner Andrews also served the KHS cause well with a 41-08.5 triple jump for second place.

The Knights hope to continue the momentum of great scores in Rochelle, with the team being served by athletes who have already been to Charleston.

But KHS coach Eric Baron’s coachin style will not change regardless of the previous May travels one has had.

“We have physically prepared our team to the best of our ability. This week is all about mental preparation. We will be ready to perform at our best on Thursday. Our focus is on getting as many athletes into the state meet as possible and getting personal best. Titles and points will come with a large number of personal best and qualifiers,” he said.

Feels like the 1st place for boys track

Photo: Nate Rehkopf, decked out in retro Knights track uniforms, took his heat of the 3200m run during Friday’s Kane County Invite out at West Aurora High School. Photo by Mike Slodki

Knight boys tie Geneva for first at prestigious KC meet
by Mike Slodki
AURORA—Team numbers don’t matter to Kaneland boys track. Neither do past accolades.

All that matters is that Kaneland put up an impressive 74 points in an 18-team Kane County Invite on Friday at West Aurora High School.

Coming off of a Peterson Prep first place and a second-place honor in Crystal Lake, the Knights’ total matched Geneva for first place at the historic Kane County grouping.

A year ago, Kaneland finished fourth with 57 points out at Millennium Field in Streamwood, Ill.

West Aurora finished third with 65 points at its home field, followed by Batavia and St. Charles North tying for fourth with 56 points.

Burlington Central took sixth with a total of 52.

South Elgin’s 41 was seventh best, while Aurora outfits Marmion Academy and Aurora Central Catholic tied for eighth with 37 points. St. Charles East rounded out the top 10 with 32 points.

KHS coach Eric Baron was eager to see what the KC happenings springboard to.

“We’ve had PRs for a lot of kids, like Nate Rehkopf in the 3200m prelims and Eric Dillon in the high jump,” Baron said. “This is the first of a line of big meets, and this is the granddaddy of them all. It’s been here for 92 years.”

Runners like Rehkopf still wanted to make an impact, even without a finals trip.

“The other teams might have bigger numbers but we have great depth, which I think puts us at an advantage,” Rehkopf said.

Kaneland can boast several area titleholders after the 2012 version of the Kane County excursion. Nate Dyer continued his astounding season with a shot put title after a finals throw of 50 feet. Fellow sophomore Dylan Nauert captured the 300 meter low hurdles title after a finals try of 40.19 seconds.

KHS also had several second-place finishers under its employ, beginning with Dyer in the discus with an effort of 151-01. Shane Jorgensen earned a second-place spotlight with a 48-10.5 in the shot put.

Third-place nods included Miki Marin in the 800m run with a tab of 1:58.40, Sean Carter in the 200m dash finals with a time of 22.46, and the 200m relay team of Dylan Pennington, Brandon Bishop, Brandon Cottier and Carter at 1:30.40.

The Knight fourth-place finishers included Eric Dillon in the high jump at 6-03 and Kory Harner in the pole vault at 12-09. Marshall Farthing took fifth in the long jump at 6-01, while Nauert found double-duty success with a fifth in the 110m high hurdles at 15.99.

Laying ahead for the Knight crew is the second-ever Northern Illinois Big XII meet in DeKalb on Friday, May 11.

Knight baseball riding 1st-place wave

Photo: Quinn Buschbacher beats the ball to first in the sixth inning of Kaneland’s 1-0 home win over Morris on Tuesday. Photo by Patti Wilk

Aversa’s troops in NIB-12 drivers seat

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Kaneland has had Sycamore’s number on the baseball field as of late, including last year’s regional title win.

On Thursday and Friday, Kaneland’s number of 10 was good enough for a win in both contests.

Meanwhile on Monday, the Knights even won without the benefit of a hit against Morris at KHS.

Against Morris, the Knights were the beneficiary of nine walks, and the lone run in the first inning scored on a balk, allowing Ray Barry to score.

John Hopkins earned the win with a complete-game shutout, in which he fanned seven.

It took just six innings for KHS to vanquish the Spartans in Maple Park by a final of 10-0 on Friday, and the Knights needed a run-filled top of the seventh inning to put away host Sycamore on May 3.

The Knights sit at 18-8 with an exemplary 11-2 mark in Northern Illinois Big XII play, good for first place. They have a one-game edge over the Yorkville Foxes with two conference games remaining

Matt Limbrunner earned the win in the Thursday rout and improved to 2-0 with a five-hit shutout. The tall right-hander struck out six in the victory.

Tom Fox went 3-for-4 with a run scored, while Quinn Buschbacher had an RBI triple and two runs scored.

On May 3, Bryan VanBogaert earned the win in a relief effort, going 2.1 innings and allowing just one run and one hit.

Limbrunner retired the final batter to earn a save.

Up 3-1 after three innings, Kaneland surrendered two runs to Sycamore in the fourth and a run in the fifth to trail 4-3. Kaneland proceeded to score seven runs in the top of the seventh for a 10-4 lead. Sycamore’s four-run seventh failed to complete the comeback for the final 10-8 margin.

Jake Razo went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI, while Fox went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI.

“We are looking for consistency now,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “The bats are there, they just have to show up everyday.

The Knights look to continue the win streak in more NIB-12 conference action in Morris, on Thursday, May 10.

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.

Lady Knights’ trip to NIB-12 meet yields 5th

Photo: Maggie Brundige (left) and Lauren Zick (right) are counted on to make an impact at the Sterling Sectional this Friday, May 11. File photo

KANELAND—Lady Knights track used the important meet at Streator High School to have a Northern Illinois Big XII pow-wow, and found they have a final output good for the middle of the pack.

Friday had less-frigid conditions than the previously held Kane County Invite in St. Charles, and with 53 points, the Lady Knights found itself with a fifth-place finish out at the home of the Bulldogs.

In last year’s inaugural NIB-12 clash, Kaneland finished third overall.

Geneseo, with 114 points, took the meet, followed by fellow West Division school Dixon with 94 points. Yorkville was third with a 70-point total, and DeKalb was fourth with 66 points.

After KHS was Sycamore in sixth place at 52, followed by Sterling (47), LaSalle-Peru (24) and Ottawa (17).

Kaneland’s lone conference champ is thrower Elle Tattoni, who boasted a shot put effort of 34 feet, seven inches, which was two inches better than Yorkville’s Mackenzie Lee.

Lauren Zick, continuing her path away from previously hobbling injuries, took a second place in the 400 meter dash race, finishing in 59.59 seconds, 2.18 second behind DeKalb’s Jaylaan Slaughter.

KHS gathered four third-place honors at Streator, beginning with Jen Howland’s 11:45.38 time in the 3200m run.

Teammate Amanda Lesak’s 50.42 second effort was third in the 300m hurdles race, while the Lady Knight’s 4x400m relay squad ran a 4:11.05 for third.

Rounding out the third-place collection was Nicole Ketza’s output in the discus throw at 103-04.

Junior Gabby Aguirre’s five-foot leap was good for fourth place.

Ahead for the Lady Knighs is the Class 2A Sectional in Sterling on Friday, May 11, at 4 p.m.

The fellow teams joining Kaneland from the area and NIB-12 in the 16-team gathering are Burlington Central, Dixon, Hampshire, Rochelle, Sterling and Sycamore.

KHS soccer solves 3, puzzled by Sycamore

Photo: Brittany Olson tries to get the upper foot in a battle for the ball during Thursday’s 2-0 setback at the hands of Sycamore. Photo by Mike Slodki

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Lady Knights soccer’s late-season homestretch is busy, to say the least.

It matters little how healthy you are heading into the regionals next week.

The Lady Knights continue to soldier on, defeating host Hinckley-Big Rock 5-0 on May 2, but succumbing to host Sycamore on Thursday in a 2-0 match.

The Lady Knights’ loss to conference rival Sycamore was their first since early April’s tournament at West Aurora.

Kaneland righted its soccer ship with a 7-0 rout of Morris on Monday after rainy conditions gave way to sunnier skies, and on Tuesday’s Senior Night, defeated Yorkville by the same 7-0 margin.

Kaneland’s record sits at 10-4-1 (5-2-1 NIB-12) on the year, so far, beating last year’s pace of 7-7-1 through 15 matches.

Facing the Lady Royals along Route 30, Kaneland was treated to goals from Brittany Olson just 61 seconds into the contest, followed by a Courtney Diddell goal 26 minutes later.

The second half saw goals from Diddell with 32:59 left, Madi Jurcenko with 27 minutes to go, and Heather Ortiz with 7:36 remaining.

Assists were gathered by Jurcenko, Jessica Coia and Didell.

Against Sycamore, the Lady Knights fell victim to a goal with 19:43 left in the first half when a shot went out of reach of an outstretched Jordan Ginther, and the Lady Spartans cinched it with a penalty kick with 21 minutes to go.

“On a streak that we’ve had, you think that every match is going to 5-0 or 6-0. It’s always good to get smacked upside the head a little bit and brought down to earth. Hopefully, this did that,” KHS coach Scott Parillo said.

The loss certainly seemed to do the trick for KHS, judging by the two ensuing matches.

Against Morris, Coia supplied a hat trick, while Jurcenko and Olson scored two goals each.

A five-goal first half propelled KHS to another handy win. Taylor White got things going with a goal four minutes in, followed by Coia and Olson finding the net. Olson supplied a hat trick, while White had two goals and an assist. Katie Taylor had a goal and two assists. Coia had a goal and assist, while Jurcenko supplied two assists.

Kaneland faces host Streator on Monday, May 14.

8th-place finish at Kane County Invite for girls track

Photo: Kaneland girls Lauren Zick and Sydney Strang try to catch a DeKalb runner in the 800 meter during their meet at DeKalb on April 25. Patti Wilk

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—With the regular season in its final weeks, the Kaneland High School girls track squad finds itself homestretching across finish lines.

Despite ending up on the wrong side of a dual on April 25 at DeKalb High School, the Lady Knights finished eighth in a stacked and frigid Kane County Invite out at St. Charles North High School on Friday evening.

In the 91-58 loss to the Lady Barbs, KHS saw several first-place honors, taking the reins in six events.

Nicole Ketza excelled in the field, taking the discus throw with a mark of 91 feet, two inches, while teammate Gabby Aguirre won the high jump event with an effort of 4-06.

Pole vaulter Christine Delach did her part for Kaneland, winning the pole vault at nine feet even.

Long-distance asset Sydney Strang continued her strong sophomore campaign with a two minute, 21.2 second 800 meter run for first place.

Amanda Lesak staked her claim to the 300m low hurdles by conquering it in 49.4 seconds, and Kaltrina Ismaili won the 200m run in 27.7 seconds.

The 2012 edition of the Kane County gathering saw West Aurora (142), St. Charles East (83) and Batavia (58) take the top three. St. Charles North, Burlington Central and Geneva took fourth through sixth, respectively, while Rosary finished just ahead of KHS. The Lady Knight’s 34-point total edged Hampshire’s 32 for eighth place overall.

Noteworthy finishes for the Lady Knights included a runner-up in the 4x800m relay with a time of 10:08.06. Adding to the long-distance favorables was Jen Howland, finishing third in the 3200m run in adverse and windy conditions. The senior ran a 11:56.10 course.

Finalist Ashley Castellanos was part of the elite 100m dash group and took fourth with a time of 13.23 seconds. Castellanos finished fifth in the prelims with a 13.28 second effort.

Strang ran the 1600m run in 5:27.80, good for third.

“Sydney is more consistent this year, and I’m very happy with how Jessica Kucera and Maggie have run,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said.

The 4x400m relay foursome took fourth place with a time of 4:17.76. Freshman Elle Tattoni continued to shore up Kaneland’s throwing ranks with a fourth in the shot put (34-05.75).

Distance-runner Abby Dodis dealt with the windy conditions as best she could.

““I haven’t run in any colder conditions this year,” Dodis said. “We have more girls in distance this year, and it’s fun to run against tougher competition.”

Ahead for Kaneland is the NIB-12 get-together on Friday, May 4, at Streator.

Hopkins’ CG key to win over Sycamore

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Knight pitcher John Hopkins kept the ball down, and with it, the chances for Sycamore to break through.

Using an array of pitches that worked, the Hopkins’ complete-game effort raised his mark to 4-2, while yielding only five hits on two runs in a 5-2 win on Monday afternoon in Sycamore.

Inducing grounders was the name of the game.

“We know that of John,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “They’ll drill it to shortstop, and the defense kept runners off the bases.”

“I’ve been trying to keep the ball low and trying to get grounders or to pop up,” Hopkins said.

It was a considerably better outcome than Thursday’s 4-2 loss to the Yorkville Foxes in Maple Park.

Kaneland still has a hold on the Northern Illinois Big XII mantle with a 15-8 mark and an 8-2 record in conference action.

In the win over SHS, Ray Barry acquitted himself in the leadoff role with a 2-for-4 day with a double and two stolen bases. Tyler Heinle had a 2-for-4 day with an RBI, as well.

With a scoreless deadlock in the fifth and two runners on, Heinle blasted an RBI single, followed by another run-scoring smack from Tom Fox. After Sycamore tied the score at 2-2, Kaneland rallied in the top of the sixth.

A fielding error by the shortstop allowed Hopkins to race home from second base for the go-ahead run, and Jake Razo laced a two-RBI double for the final 5-2 lead.

Bryan VanBogaert was tagged with the loss in 5.2 innings of work against the Foxes, and no earned runs given up.

KHS soccer cleats Hubs

Photo: Kaneland’s Heather Ortiz fights in a crowd in the first period of Kaneland’s 7-0 win over Rochelle on Thursday. Kaneland soccer is now 6-0-1 in the last seven matches. Photo by John DiDonna

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—When you put up a seven-spot in soccer, you know something’s gone right.

With six goals in the first half, the Lady Knights picked up a conference win and upped their record to 7-3-1 after a 7-0 solving of the visiting Rochelle Hubs.

Courtney Diddell, Brittany Olson, Taylor White and Katie Taylor all scored for the rising Lady Knights, with Madi Jurcenko putting a cap on the evening with a goal just 21 seconds in to the second half.

The Lady Knights continue with NIB-12 play with a trip to see the rival Sycamore Lady Spartans on Thursday, May 3.

It serves to help KHS get ready for a three-team regional set to begin in two weeks, with Burlington Central and Kaneland the top two seeds.

“That will be interesting to see how that game (on May 12) plays out,” KHS coach Scott Parillo said. “I don’t know if either team wants to show too much in case we play each other in the championship game.”

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.

Baseball holds own in NIB-12 conference play

Photo: Second baseman Joe Pollastrini tries to turn a double play in the fourth inning, but the ball was just a little late getting to first baseman Jordan Jones during Kaneland’s home game against Yorkville on Monday. Photo by John DiDonna

KANELAND—Much like last year, the Knight nine are taking care of business as the calendar turns pages on the season.

Wins over Yorkville, Wheaton Academy and DeKalb have the first-place KHS baseball crew feeling quite good.

Kaneland’s (14-7, 7-1 Northern Illinois Big XII) steady pitching went well with just enough hitting on Thursday in DeKalb.

The 2-1 victory was earned with a single run in the second and fifth innings, and Matt Limbrunner (1-0) took the win in a starting assignment. The tall right-hander went 6.2 innings and allowed no earned runs on four hits.

Ray Barry swiped three bases and scored both runs, while Jordan Jones produced an RBI.

In a 6-0 Saturday shutout of Wheaton Academy, the Knights got help on the mound from Jones, who went five innings and allowed four hits. Barry went 2-for-4 and swiped three more bases, along with his double and two RBI, while Tyler Heinle went 2-for-3 with an RBI and run.

On Monday, the Knights engineered an 8-6 win against the Yorkville Foxes. Down 3-1 in the third, KHS scored two in the third and four in the fourth for a lead before YHS tied matters with runs in the fifth and sixth. Kaneland’s two-run sixth gave the the hosts the edge.

Bryan VanBogaert improved to 2-1 with a win in relief, while Jordan Jones earned the save in a perfect seventh inning.

Tom Fox was 3-for-4 at the plate with a triple and three RBI, while Joe Pollastrini was 2-for-2 with two doubles and a walk.

In Kendall County, the Knights erased a 2-1 deficit with two runs in the top of the seventh to subdue the Foxes.

Trevor Storck improved to 4-0 on the year with a six hitter, in which he allowed just two earned runs.

Tyler Heinle went 1-for-3 with a run scored, as did brother Trever Heinle.

The Knights are at Yorkville on Thursday, April 26.

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.

Soccer slams West division’s Ottawa

by Mike Slodki
OTTAWA—In the case of Lady Knights soccer, the mix of old and new is gelling enough to make anyone happy.

In a jaunt to LaSalle County on Thursday, Kaneland improved to 6-3-1 and 2-1-1 in Northern Illinois Big XII Conference action with a 4-0 shutout of host Ottawa.

With an early goal by Jessica Coia, and three second half goals, the Lady Knights continue to thrive as of late, with underclass totals in double figures and trying to exterminate the injury bug.

Coia’s rocket of a shot was helped by an assist from Courtney Diddell and Madi Jurcenko just six minutes, 52 seconds in.

The second half was highlighted by a Brittany Olson goal (assist from Diddell) with 24:44 to go in the game, and two Abby Bend goals assisted by Katie Taylor. The scores happened with 22:11 and 19:23 remaining.

The recent good fortune is at the hands, or feet of players like Diddell.

“Courtney is an amazing athlete in general. She make the game look effortless, she does not look like she is going fast, but she is, she has long legs and a long stride that is deceiving. She also has played club ball with a quality club-Campton United,” KHS coach Scott Parillo said.

In frosh/soph kicks, the Lady Knights used three Holly Brasfield goals and two Aislinn Lodwig scores to down Ottawa 6-0.

The varsity soccer crew hosts rival Rochelle on Thursday, April 26.

KHS girls track sees firsts in 4×800, 1600m

Photo: Nicole Ketza gears up for a discus throw during recent action. Ketza and the Lady Knights gear up for the Kane County Meet in North Stars country on Friday, April 27. File photo

DIXON—Interstate 88’s corridor wields some talented girls track rosters, and Kaneland’s intent was to join that group after Friday’s Dixon Invite.

When the points were tabulated, KHS emerged in the middle of the pack of a 10-team invite.

With 55 points, the Lady Knights edged NIB-12 rival Sterling by three points.

Additional NIB-12 outfit Geneseo took the meet with 93, followed by Dixon with 81. Harlem scored third with 76 points and Moline finished fourth with 68.

Kaneland’s bar is at a higher setting for several events, and just in time for the prestigious Kane County Meet occurring this Friday, April 27.

The 4x800m relay foursome of Sydney Strang, Jessica Kucera, Jennifer Howland and Amanda Lesak emerged victorious with a time of 10 minutes, 7.35 seconds, over two seconds better than the team from Dixon.

Strang also got into the act by running away from the fellow 1600m run crowd, thanks to a 5:42.50 time.

The frosh/soph group of Kucera, Rachel Steinmiller, Kyla Goodine and Madison Keith did well by finishing third in the 4x400m relay event with a time of 4:27.24.

Field events went well for KHS in the form of Kelly Evers’ third in the high jump (13 feet, eight inches), and with Shannon Wallace’s third in the pole vault (23-06).

Kaneland’s Kane County trip takes them to St. Charles North High School for a 5 p.m. starting gun.

Head rush

Photo: Kaneland soccer defeated East Aurora, 3-0, on April 11 at the West Aurora Blackhawk Invitational, won by the host school. Here, Madi Jurcenko executes a backward head pass. Photo by Patti Wilk

Kaneland soccer enjoying unbeaten stretch
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—In spite of injuries, Kaneland soccer is remaining a tough team to battle.

Needing to rely on underclassmen more than ever with the injury bug infesting the roster, the Lady Knights still suited up and bested East Aurora on April 11, tied Dixon on Saturday and trounced Marengo on Monday.

That accompanied a 1-0 win over the visiting Lady Barbs on Tuesday.

The current stretch leaves KHS at 5-3-1 (2-1 Northern Illinois Big XII).

Kaneland traveled to the Blackhawk Invitational stomping grounds of West Aurora High School to finish the tournament. West Aurora’s plaque went Kaneland’s way two seasons ago, and sent the Lady Tomcats reeling with a Madi Jurcenko goal just three minutes, 29 seconds into the contest.

“It’s very crucial, because it puts you ahead of the game,” Jurcenko said. “When you have that one step ahead in the beginning, it helps you play better.”

With a younger lineup of which Jurcenko is involved, winning seems to be the cure to any jitters.

“It definitely helps when we win because we’re such a young team and we haven’t played together that much, scoring really helps our confidence.”

Melissa Bohorquez found the net on an assist from Katie Taylor with 13:51 to go in the half for a 2-0 lead.

Finally, Emily Eckert put a cap on the afternoon with a goal due in part to a Nicole Hanlon assist with just 2:19 remaining in the contest.

Despite West Aurora winning the tournament for a second consecutive year, KHS coach Scott Parillo saw encouraging developments, almost by necessity.

“That first goal was huge,” Parillo said. “That doesn’t always happen, and it kind of set the tone. I was real happy. Fifteen of these players are freshmen and sophomores, and that’s pretty impressive.”

In NIB-12 crossover action, the Lady Knights benefitted from a goal from Brittany Olson on a Courtney Diddell assist 14 minutes, 19 seconds into the match, but surrendered a second-half goal to the Duchesses—one of three shots on goal to deadlock matters.

Against the Lady Indians on Monday, Katie Taylor broke through with two goals with 27:17 and 10:40 left in the first half, and set up the final goal by Taylor Opperman with 5:30 to go in the half.

The lone goal against DHS was an Olson goal with a Jurcenko assist with 31:43 left in the contest.

Frosh/soph action included the Lady Knights improving to 4-3-1 with a 1-1 mark in conference play. They have a 5-1 win over Marengo to thank for that, with Emily Grams finding the net four times, and Eckert scoring once.

Kaneland was set to partake in more crossover action, this time on Thursday, April 19, in Ottawa.

Sluggers trounce Rochelle, vanquish DeKalb

Photo: Mike Tattoni makes the turn at second base in recent action. File photo

More action for State champs includes two setbacks
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—If only the Kaneland Knights could put up double-figure run totals in every contest.

While they enjoyed wins over conference rivals, the Knights could have used them in two losses this past week.

A week with split fortunes saw a 17-0 win over the Hubs on Thursday, followed by a trip to Woodstock, Ill., and a close 6-5 loss to Marian Central Catholic on Saturday. Northern Illinois Big XII action continued on with a 6-2 win in Barb-land on Monday and a 4-3, 12-inning marathon loss to DeKalb on Tuesday in Maple Park.

Kaneland now sits at 10-7 (4-1 NIB-12).

In the five-inning rout of the Hubs, Trevor Storck (5 IP, 1 H, 2 K) earned the win, while John Hopkins had a double and three RBI in the effort. Tyler Heinle joined the party with two doubles and three RBI. Kaneland’s 10-run second inning made it 11-0 after two innings.

Against the Hurricanes, Kaneland’s 3-1 lead went by the wayside as MCC scored three in the bottom of the fifth. KHS tied it in the sixth before the hosts’ two-run sixth sealed the result.

Joe Pollastrini took the loss in relief, while Tom Fox went 3-for-3 with a triple and two RBI.

In DeKalb, the Knights’ four-run second and two-run fifth buoyed the visitors.

Hopkins took the win with a complete-game, six-hitter. Quinn Buschbacher jacked a grand slam, and Heinle went 2-for-3 with a triple and walk.

On Tuesday, DeKalb scored three in the fourth, with Kaneland’s three-run sixth tying the game until the Barbs’ one run in the 12th.

The loss went to Bryan VanBogaert, who went 7.2 innings in relief, while Fox went 3-for-6 with two doubles.

The Knights finish the series with DeKalb in a road contest on Thursday, April 19, before hosting old rival Geneva on Friday, April 20.

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.

Girls Track sees exceptional totals at Holmes Meet

Photo: Ashley Castellanos (right) put in good work Saturday at the Jill Holmes Invite, including winning this 100 meter dash. Photo by John DiDonna

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—It took barely any time for Lady Knights girls track to get acclimated to the outdoor competition.

With the Jill Holmes Invite on Saturday yielding success, and the dual action going the Lady Knights way on Tuesday against visiting Sycamore, Kaneland sits in a good spot.

On Saturday, Rockton’s Hononegah High School finished first with 98 points, while Kaneland was second at 92.5, and DeKalb third.

Ashley Castellanos took third place in the 200 meter dash on Saturday with a 27-second effort.

Lady Knight Abby Dodis ran a 12:17.40 effort in the 3200m run, with DeKalb standout Kelsey Schrader taking first at 11:42.10.

The Lady Knights’ 4x800m relay group of Amanda Lesak, Sydney Strang, Jennifer Howland and Jessica Kucera finished second with an effort of 10:10.35.

The Lady Knights did well in field events, as well, with Castellanos staking her claim in the long jump and triple jump by finishing second in both.

The junior hit the 15-10 mark in the long jump, and a 33-06 in the triple jump for a productive morning.

Elle Tattoni beat the field and took the reins in the shot put with a 32-11 throw, while fellow Lady Knights Nicole Ketza took first (97-10.5) and Ashley Cottier managed third in the discus (94-09.5).

Against the Lady Spartans, KHS used plenty of great showings for an 86-55 win.

Strang’s 11:54.6 was tops in the 3200m run.

“I’ve been working hard and it’s been going pretty well, “ Strang said. “I’ve been having fun and trying my best with it.”

Howland took the 800m run with a time of 2:32.3, Lesak won the 300m hurdles event with a time of 50.8 seconds, and Kaltrina Ismaili won the 200m run with a time of 28.9 seconds.

Additonal firsts were garnered by the 4x400m relay team (4:09.8), Castellanos in the triple jump (32-10), Tattoni in the shot put (31-06), Ketza in the discus (94-04), Gabby Aguirre in the high jump (five feet) and Sydney Luse in the pole vault (eight feet).

Up ahead for girls track: the Ottawa ABC Invite on Friday, April 13.

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.

Soccer overcomes struggles to find net at W. Aurora

AURORA—Kaneland soccer will have at least one win under its belt from its usual April stop.

A second-half flurry on Tuesday against Elgin’s Westminster Christian paved the way for a 6-0 win.

In the opening match of the annual Blackhawk Tournament at West Aurora High School, the Lady Knights’ allowance of a first half goal on Thursday led to a 1-0 loss.

Against Westminster Christian, the Lady Knights got on the board, thanks to a Katie Taylor goal after an assist from Courtney Diddell roughly 20 minutes into the action.

The offensive fireworks took place in the second half with Taylor completing her hat trick early. A corner kick by the captain made it 2-0, with another goal coming after an assist by Abby Bend with 20:22 left in the contest.

Just 21 seconds later, Bend scored after a Diddell assist.

The final two goals came from Madi Jurcenko off of a pass from Diddell five minutes later, and an unassisted goal from Aislinn Lodwig.

The 2-3 Lady Knights were slated to finish up at West Aurora against the East Aurora squad on Wednesday, before heading to Dixon to face the Duchesses on Saturday, April 14, at 11:30 a.m. for a Northern Illinois Big XII crossover battle.

Knights baseball brings firepower vs. Dukes, Hubs

Photo: Kaneland’s Quinn Buschbacher makes contact for a hit during their home game against Hononegah on April 5. Photo by Patti Wilk

KANELAND—Dixon’s baseball field is somewhat secluded, and surrounded by tall trees.

Not even that setting could protect them from Kaneland baseball’s offensive onslaught.

Saturday saw Kaneland travel to the former childhood home of President Ronald Reagan and contain the host Dukes by a final of 15-4 in a five-inning contest.

The Saturday win did wonders in getting the sour taste out of the Knights’ mouth after a 7-1 defeat at the hands of Rockton’s Hononegah High School on Thursday in Maple Park.

Kaneland also handed Rochelle two defeats: a 15-2, five-inning special on Monday and a 1-0 win in Ogle County on Tuesday.

Against Dixon, Kaneland (8-5, 2-0 NIB-12) was paced by two runs in the top of the first, then six in the second and a seven-spot in the third.

Trevor Storck balanced things on the mound with three strikeouts and seven hits scattered, while allowing three earned runs.

Tyler Heinle went 3-for-3 with a triple and two RBI, and Clay Denlinger added a 2-for-4 day with an RBI.

Against the visiting Indians, the Knights could only manage a run in the first, with John Hopkins taking the loss on the mound, despite allowing no earned runs over 5.2 innings.

Ray Barry had a double and drew two walks for the Knights.

Against the Hubs on Monday, Kaneland’s nine-run first set the tone in windy conditions.

Drew Peters improved to 2-2 and fanned eight.

It was still a challenge for the southpaw to mow down the rival lineup, even with a convincing lead.

“The curveball worked surprisingly (well) in this wind,” Peters said “The fastball came in pretty hard and I was really pleased.”

KHS coach Brian Aversa thought Peters did his duty on the mound, pitching smart with the lead.

“You know, it’s not a close game anymore,” Aversa said. “We’ve got the lead, we can be more aggressive and go after guys. If they hit it, they hit it, and if not, we have to make plays behind him.”

On Tuesday, the lone run was executed by Tyler Heinle with a suicide squeeze in the top of the fifth.

Hopkins went the distance, allowing a two-out double in the bottom of the seventh for the lone blemish.

Kaneland battles Rochelle in a rematch of the 2012 Rochelle Sectional title game won by Kaneland last June, on Thursday, April 12.

Boys track feels outdoorsy at E. Moline

Photo: Alex Snyder throws the discus a huge 112 feet, 11 inches during Kaneland’s home meet against Sycamore on April 10. Photo by John DiDonna

Knights also earn dual win vs. Spartans
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—How do you deal with boys track giants from the Quad Cities area along with other very talented outfits?

You show your talent is as big and capable as theirs.

Kaneland boys track put up third-place numbers at the annual East Moline United Kiwanis Invitational at the Soule Bowl in East Moline, Ill., on Saturday with 233.5 points.

Rock Island won the meet crown with 260 points, while the hosts put up 250 points of their own.

Pleasant Valley of Iowa was in fourth with 196 points, and Galesburg was fifth at 195.

Two fellow Northern Illinois Big XII schools competed on Saturday, with Sterling finishing seventh in the 12-team meet (152 points), and Geneseo scoring 141.5 points for eighth.

With the events placed in A, B and C flights, Kaneland found plenty of competitors of their own with top finishes.

Knights standout Kyle Carter was the premiere runner in the 800 meter run “A”, thanks to a two minute, 2.96 effort, .72 seconds better than Beau Salsman of Galesburg.

Teammate Dylan Nauert’s third place in the 300m hurdles “A’ group fit well in the team’s success, thanks to a 41.40-second finish.

Nauert was at it again as part of the 4x100m relay team along with Brandon Bishop, Brandon Cottier and Sean Carter, as the foursome finished second with a time of 43.84.

In the 4x400m relay “A” flight, Bishop, Nathan Kucera, Kyle Carter and Nauert finished second with a 3:30.48 effort.

Kaneland also found encouraging developments in the field events, with JR Vest taking third in the pole vault with a height of 12 feet even.

Nate Dyer continued his positive trajectory from last year by throwing 45-10 in the shot put. Dyer also took second in the discus throw for coach Eric Baron’s crew, heaving a 144-10 disc.

Bishop found himself in the thick of things again by finishing third in the 100m dash “B” with a time of 11.9.

Kaneland’s Miki Marin emerged first in the 800m run “B” thanks to a 2:05.11, 1.25 seconds faster than Pleasant Valley’s Joe Schuler.

Eric Dillion finished third in the high jump “B” action with a leap of 5-10.

The Knights’ 4x400m relay group finished second in the “B” category with a time of 3:45.01.

In the pole vault “B” event, Knight Dylan Kuipers finished second with a height of 11 feet.

Sean Carter finished a scant .17 seconds behind Rock Island’s Brandon Richardson at 11.82.

Kucera took first in the 400m dash “C” with a time of 52.46, while teammate Clayton Brundige was king of the 800m run “C’ at 2:07.97.

KHS representative Brock Robertson finished second with a time of 43.74 seconds in the 300m hurdles “C”.

Another pole vaulter doing well for KHS was Dan Evers, who finished first in the “C” group with a vault of 10-06.

Kaneland’s Ben Barnes held his own in the “C” long jump grouping by finishing second with a distance of 18-09.5.

In a Tuesday meet against Sycamore, Kaneland won 96-50, thanks to first places from personnel like Nauert in the 300m hurdles (41.3) and Dyer in the shot put (45-11) and discus (140-05).

Conor Johnson also nabbed first in the 3200m run at 10:04.6. Dylan Pennington took first in the 200m dash with an effort of 24.9.

Vest excelled in the pole vault with an 11-foot launch.

Saturday, April 14, brings the latest test for boys track in the form of the Ottawa Invitational.

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.

No decay in Decatur area for Knights baseball

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Spring break stories for Kaneland baseball will feature impressive displays against teams from Decatur, Ill.

Going to the former stomping grounds of KHS coach Brian Aversa—Millikin University, the Knights beat Decatur’s Eisenhower High School on March 28, plus handed Decatur’s MacArthur High School a loss on Thursday.

Kaneland also took it to host Harlem in Machesney Park, Ill., by a final of 3-1 on Monday to raise its overall mark to 6-4 in 2012.

In the 15-2, five-inning win over Eisenhower, Drew Peters earned his first win of the year (1-1), and the Knights put up five runs in the first and five in the fifth to bookend the barrage.

Jake Razo went 2-for-2 with two runs and two RBI, while Zach Martinelli smacked a two-run triple.

Against Decatur’s MacArthur team, the Knights put up seven runs in the top of the first inning, needing all of those runs as the hosts crawled back enough to make it a closer 11-7 win for Kaneland.

Bryan VanBogeart, with three innings of relief, took the win with five strikeouts to its credit.
Peters went 1-for-2 at the plate for the victorious Knights.

It was not as kind a day for Peters on the mound on Friday against host Washington High School. The lefty went 4.2 innings and gave up four runs, but just two earned, in an 8-3 setback. The hurler did fan nine batters.

John Hopkins went 1-for-4 with two RBI.

Despite taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning, Washington came back with a four-spot in the fifth and sixth innings to cinch things.

Against the Harlem Huskies, Kaneland’s offensive attack involved a run in the second and two runs in the fourth to break a tie.

VanBogaert’s outing of just three hits allowed was enough to get the win on the mound, and Matt Limbrunner’s two-inning outing earned him the save.

Quinn Buschbacher went 2-for-2 with a double and two stolen bases.

KHS next battles Rockton’s Hononegah High School locally on Thursday, April 5.

Kaneland then heads to Dixon High School to face the Dukes in NIB-12 crossover action on Saturday, April 7, to the site of the 2011 sectional championship grab—Rochelle, on Monday, April 9, and back home to host the purple-clad Hubs on Tuesday, April 10.

In other levels of Kaneland Knights diamond action, the Knight sophomores fell to West Aurora on Monday by a final of 8-6.

Tom Van Bogaert went 1-for-1 with a walk. Tyler Carlson went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBI, and Nate Hopkins had a 2-for-3 day at the plate with a walk and a run scored. The sophomore Knights still search for their first win after three opening losses.