Tag Archives: Rilee Vest

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.

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 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 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.”

Softball takes advantages of curveballs, longballs

KANELAND—Lady Knights softball is 14-7, and bringing the offense.

Kaneland softball broke out the bats vs. DeKalb on Thursday in an 11-1, five-inning rout of the Lady Barbs.

Eight runs in the third, two in the fourth and an additional one in the fifth solved things for KHS. Delani Vest allowed just one hit and struck out eight in the pitcher’s circle. Katy Dudzinski went 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBI, while Brittany Davis went 4-for-4 with two driven in, and teammate Allyson O’Herron went 3-for-3 with an RBI.

Following the WSC battle, the Lady Knights headed up Route 20 to take part in the Marengo Tournament on Saturday.

The first contest had KHS fall to Tinley Park’s Andrew HS by a 7-5 final after Vest surrendered four runs in the top of the sixth. The sophomore did have five strikeouts to her name. Sister Rilee Vest had a double, triple and three RBI.

Kaneland recovered to vanquish the Freeport Pretzels in a 10-4 encounter. Dudzinski took the hill and struck out six in the win, while also slamming a homer. Jordan Hester added a homer and four RBI.

To end the weekend, Kaneland brought out the slaughter bats against Rockton’s Hononegah HS in a 13-3 win. The Lady Knights, with winning pitcher Alexis Villarreal on the hill (8 K’s), saw a triple and three RBI by Rilee Vest and a 3-for-4 game from Beth Smith.

Kaneland handled Oswego East on Monday by a final of 8-2, on the strength of Vest’s six innings. Vest scattered only two runs and five hits while fanning four.

At the plate, Andrea Dimmig-Potts smacked three doubles and drove in three.

Upcoming for KHS softball is a home contest with Sycamore on Thursday, May 13, at 4:30 p.m.

Photo: KHS softball outfielder Rilee Vest was among those with a prolific Marengo Tourney, smacking a triple and
3-RBI game in a 13-3 win against Hononegah on Saturday. File Photo

Softball takes wins from Maine West, Oswego, Sycamore, now 7-5

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Lady Knights softball rallied this week to finish a busy slate winning three of five. Thursday saw an unfortunate shutout to visiting Yorkville 2-0, but the team split a doubleheader with visiting Maine West on Saturday, winning 4-1 and losing 8-6. On Monday, the Lady Knights made Oswego wish their makeup game was still on the shelf with a 10-3 win in Maple Park, and more Western Sun action on Tuesday saw KHS pound host Sycamore 10-0 in six innings.

At this juncture, the Lady Knights are 7-5 with a 2-3 WSC mark.

Pitching ace Delani Vest (3 K’s) allowed just two runs in the third vs. the Lady Foxes, but aside from Brittany Davis’ two hits, nothing came across the plate.

Vest came back against the Warriors on Saturday and fanned 11 in a complete game effort, allowing one run on five hits.

Vest also helped her cause with a 3-for-3 effort at the plate with a run scored, while sister Rilee went 2-for-3 with an RBI.

After allowing a first inning run, Kaneland had a prolific third inning with 10 batters at the plate that gave them four runs.

Designated player Katy Dudzinski singled, and two batters later, Delani Vest also singled. SS Allyson O’Herron hit a fly to the rightfielder that was carried by the wind over the rightfielder’s head for a game-tying double.

“I was like, ‘oh man, she’s going to catch it again’, but then I saw Delani going and Katy going, and then we just kept running,” O’Herron said.

Andrea Dimmig-Potts then hit a run-scoring single for the lead, followed by an RBI single by Davis and an RBI double by Rilee Vest.

‘We played well (in game one),” KHS coach Brian Willis said. “We executed defensively and hit the ball harder and didn’t get some runs across until that big inning.”

Maine West got some revenge in game two, scoring three in the top of the sixth to break a 5-all tie. Dudzinski went 2-for-4 with a run, three RBI and a homer. Alexis Villarreal was tagged with the loss, but fanned six.

Against the visiting Panthers in a makeup game from April 3, KHS scored in every inning but the fifth. Rilee Vest went deep on a 3-for-4 afternoon, and Kristen Stralka went 3-for-3 with three driven in. Dudzinski earned the win in relief, striking out six and allowing just one hit in four innings.

Delani Vest struck out 10 in the clash with the Spartans on Tuesday, scattering four hits, while Rilee Vest went 3-for-4 with a double, homer and 4 RBI.

Awaiting the Lady Knights is a home battle with Rochelle on Thursday, April 22.

Lady Knights get boost at DeKalb, Marengo

KANELAND—Lady Knights softball knew of a way to smile after some tough losses.

Break out the bats in Barb-land.

Tuesday had the Lady Knights recover nicely after three straight losses with a 12-4 win at Western Sun Conference rival Dekalb.

The win improved the Lady Knights’ mark to 4-3 with a 1-2 WSC record.

Kaneland had lost three of four dating back to April 6.

On Saturday, the Lady Knights lost a 4-1 encounter at Marengo but came back to beat their rivals to the north 9-7 in game 2, and on Thursday dropped a conference battle to rival Geneva by a 7-2 final.

KHS now sits at 4-3 with a 1-2 record in the conference.

Right-hander Delani Vest earned the win over the Lady Barbs with six innings thrown and seven strikeouts. KHS went out to a 5-0 lead after two and lead 9-4 after four innings before capping the scoring with two in the fifth.

Brittany Davis smacked a homer and went 2-for-5 with a double and four RBI. Andrea Dimmig-Potts went 3-for-3 with a walk and 3 RBI.

Against Marengo, Vest was tagged with the loss after giving up the runs, all earned.

Beth Smith earned the win in the second game, while Dimmig-Potts went 3-for-4 with 2 RBI.

Facing the visiting Vikings, the Lady Knights could not add anything to Dimmig-Potts and Rilee Vest’s RBI. Alexis Villarreal (0-1) was tagged with the loss.

The Lady Knights are set to defend their diamond against Yorkville on Thursday, April 15, and Maine West on Saturday, April 17.

Willis joins many new softball faces

Photo: Sophomore pitcher Delani Vest will be counted on for a repeat performance. File Photo
by Mike Slodki
MAPLE PARK—Despite finishing 27-9 in 2009, the Kaneland High School girls softball squad faces quite a number of challenges.

There’s recovering from the heartbreaking extra-inning regional championship loss to Burlington Central, the third straight year of getting eliminated by the Rockets.

There’s the acclimation of seven new faces to the varsity ranks, with just six upperclassmen on the team.

There’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.

“Right now, it’s all excitement and anticipation,” Willis said. “We’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.”

Willis is ready for the season-ending loss to be put in the rearview mirror.

“From that regional championship loss, there’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 weren’t around,” Willis said.

Notably, Vest returns after posting a 17-6 record as a freshman inside the pitcher’s circle, which itself is being moved back.

“That’s going to make a difference, and we’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,” Willis said.

The jury is still out on Delani’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.

“We’re moving forward. These returning girls are excited to get a fair shot, and they feel like it’s their time,” 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.

“It’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 aren’t too far behind,” Willis said.

Sophomore McKinzie Mangers will serve as catcher in case the other two possibilities are beset by injuries.

“We’ll be tested early behind the plate,” Willis said.

The infield will look younger on the left side and senior-laden on the right. Allyson O’Herron, a freshman, looks to contribute at shortstop.

“(O’Herron) is very solid defensively and will make some freshman mistakes, but she’s also solid with the bat,” 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.

“She’s going to get out there every day and put up solid numbers and be a good player,” Willis said.

On the new arrivals, Willis pointed to O’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.

“If we finish in the middle of the conference and continue to get better every week and regionals come around and we’re ready to roll, that’ll make me happy,” 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.

Lady Knights finish 2nd in WSC, look toward playoffs

Softball comes into its regional action with a formidable 25-8 record, but it doesn’t include a share of the conference title.

Kaneland (10-4 Western Sun Conference) earned a 1-0 win over Batavia on Thursday before losing a 5-1 rain makeup showdown with host Glenbard South that officially decided the WSC. The Lady Knights ended the regular season with a 6-1 win vs. Rosary on Saturday.

Against Batavia, a Sara Rose homer in the top of the first was all KHS needed in a 1-0 win. The knock was one of the two hits the Lady Knights had. Delani Vest (16-5) got the win with six strikeouts in her name.

Against the host Raiders, Vest gave up four earned runs and fanned five.

Rose and Jessica Lubic came through with doubles and Rilee Vest went 3-for-3. Kaneland’s one run came in the top of the sixth which made it 4-1.

Kaneland took care of the Royals, thanks to a solid performance by Delani Vest in the pitchers’ circle and the plate. Vest hit a homer and went 2-for-3, striking out seven. KHS put up six runs in the sixth.

Kaneland freshmen continue their productive season with a 3-2 win over Glenbard South. The sophomores defeated Rosary 12-2 for a win this week.

Interim coach Ken Neahring and Kaneland softball were set to do battle with third-seeded Hampshire out at the Class 3A Burlington Central Regional on Wednesday. (2) Kaneland needed to get past the 12-16 Whip-purs in order to face (1) Burlington Central on Saturday, May 30, at noon for the regional title.

Lady Knights softball putting the hurt on

by Mike Slodki
Kaneland softball is on a tear and it couldn’t come at a more opportune time.

The Lady Knights now sit at 23-7, with an 9-3 record in the Western Sun Conference.

This past week saw KHS sweep non-conference Minooka on Saturday in Maple Park by slim 2-1 and 1-0 margins.

Those close victories were balanced by a power-fueled 11-1, six-inning rout of host Sycamore on Thursday.

On Tuesday, the Lady Knights got past Rochelle by a 2-1 (eight innings) margin.

In game one against the Indians, Delaney Vest earned the win and scattered just two hits. The freshman also had a double at the plate and struck out seven on the mound.

Andrea Potts went 2-for-3 with a double, and the Lady Knights broke a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the seventh with a Jessica Lubic double that scored Chassidy Mangers.

In game two, Mallory Huml shut down Minooka with a two-hit shutout that was accented by three strikeouts.

Potts went 3-for-3 with a double, and Brittany Davis’ double in the bottom of the sixth scored Mangers with the deciding run.

Vest (17-4) had a five-strikeout effort against the Spartans but showed prowess at the plate with a two-run homer hit in the second inning, which gave the Lady Knights a 3-0 edge. The Lady Knights struck gold in the first when Davis drew a bases-loaded walk.

Mangers came home on a fielding error to make it 4-0 before a Sycamore homer in the bottom of the fourth made it 4-1.

Jordan Herra’s two-run shot in the fifth made it 6-1.

In the sixth inning, Lady Knight Lubic hit a homer before Potts singled and Herra slammed her second round-tripper of the afternoon.

“It felt great,” Herra said. “The first one I knew I had it, but the second one I was thinking I needed to get down the line as fast as I can. (The win) was a big boost of confidence, and we’re ready for regionals.”

Sycamore’s failure to score in the bottom of the sixth shut the contest down after six innings.

“We’ve been starting to hit better, and we have other people in the lineup starting to get on base,” interim coach Ken Neahring said.

The sophomore Lady Knights dropped a 5-1 meeting with Sycamore and the freshmen took care of the Spartans 14-6 in five innings.

Against the Lady Hubs, Rochelle got on the board in the top of the first, but Kaneland put one up in the bottom of the fourth and sent everyone home in the bottom of the eighth on a Rilee Vest base hit.

Rilee Vest went 4-for-4 with two RBI, while Potts went 3-for-4 with a double.

Kaneland attempts to handle host Batavia on Thursday, May 21, and has a makeup game in Glen Ellyn against Glenbard South on Friday, May 22.

Softball makes life difficult for opponents

KHS 3-1 in WSC skirmishes
by Mike Slodki
Lady Knights softball had itself a productive week, and in the process, elevated its record to a nice 10-4.

The Lady Knights, who are also 3-1 in Western Sun Conference play, vanquished the host Maine West Warriors in a Saturday doubleheader, 3-0 and 5-0. Preceding that was a 6-1 win over the host Yorkville Foxes on Thursday. Kaneland began the week as road warriors with an 11-1, five-inning win over host Wheaton Academy on Wednesday, April 15.

In the first game of the doubleheader in Des Plaines, hurler Delani Vest (6-1) scattered just four hits and struck out five.

Sara Rose (2-for-3), Vest (2-for-4) and Jessica Lubic (2-for-3) smacked doubles, while Rose and Mangers parked pitches over the fence for home runs.

The Lady Knights scored single runs in the third, fourth and sixth innings.

Senior Mallory Huml (3-3) put on a clinic in game two, allowing just two hits and fanning nine. Kaneland put up a three-spot in the third inning while scoring two additional runs in the seventh.

Andrea Potts went 2-for-3 with two RBI and Tara Groen went 2-for-3.

Against Yorkville, Kaneland scored three runs in the top of the first thanks to an RBIs double to dead-center by Rose, Potts reaching on an error that scored Rose and a run-scoring single by Lubic.

Yorkville threatened in the bottom of the first by loading the bases but couldn’t score.

Kaneland scored three more in the third. Rose doubled and later came home on an error by the shortstop. Rilee Vest then drove home a run with a grounder, and Jordan Herra reached on another error that scored Lubic, who had previously singled.

“We’ve done a pretty good job this last week of hitting the ball,” KHS coach Dennis Hansen said after the output on Thursday. “We get some people hot up and down the order, and our pitching has been good.”

Vest, only a freshman and counted on for big innings, has come through thus far.

“My screwball was really working today. I struck out a lot of girls with that. It’s different every game depending on how I warm up. Whatever works in the first inning, I try to stick with that,” said Vest, who K’d eight Lady Foxes.

Against Wheaton Academy, Huml struck out seven batters and walked just one while giving up just three hits. Kaneland scored in every inning, including five times in the first and three in the second.

Potts had a huge day at the plate, going 4-for-4 with a double and four driven in. Huml also went 3-for-4 with an RBI.

Lower class action this past week saw the sophomores sweep a doubleheader at Maine West by 11-10 and 10-5 finals.

In game one, Beth Smith improved to 5-0 with a nine-strikeout day. Katy Dudzinski went 3-for-4 with a homer. The Lady Knights scored six times in the top of the seventh to secure the win.

Game two had Dudzinski pitch four innings for the win (4-2). Brooke Thompson went 2-for-3 with a triple and Lindsay Jurcenko go 2-for-4.

The freshmen swept the doubleheader vs. Maine West at Kaneland by scores of 14-3 (five innings) and 14-4 (six innings).

Sarah McGinnis and Brittney Miller earned wins for the Lady Knights.

Ahead for Kaneland varsity is a road venture to Rochelle on Thursday, April 23, and a trip to Woodstock on Saturday, April 25.

Photo: Kaneland pitcher Delani Vest crashes into her sister, catcher Rilee Vest, as they both went after a fly ball in the sixth inning against DeKalb on April 14. Kaneland won the home game 9-4. Photo by John DiDonna

Lady Knights softball secures wins over three schools

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.

Spring Sports Preview: Strong returning core best hope for KHS softball

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 Tuesday’s softball practice in the Kaneland High School gym. Photo by Mary Herra