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High School Softball: Ellie Giles’ gem lifts St. Ignatius over St. Laurence for sectional title

By Steve Millar
Correspondent

St. Laurence junior Abbey Pochie knew it was going to be a showdown of Division I-bound pitchers and that she would have to be on top of her game.

Pochie, a DePaul recruit, battled fellow junior and Belmont recruit Ellie Giles of St. Ignatius in a pitcher’s duel in the Class 3A St. Laurence Sectional championship game on June 10.

In the end, Giles and the fourth-seeded Wolfpack had just a bit more, pulling off a 1-0 win over the second-seeded Vikings at Macarthur Park in Burbank.

“I kind of figured at the beginning that it would be a pitcher’s duel,” Pochie said. “(Giles) played with us on my travel team the first few years. I knew what she had. I figured we could pull on top once we got used to her rise ball, but it’s softball. You never know who’s going to win these games and who’s going to lose.”

Pochie kept St. Laurence (15-12) close, striking out 10 and allowing just five hits. Giles, however, threw a one-hit shutout with 14 strikeouts.

The Wolfpack (26-8) broke through with two outs in the fifth inning.

Freshman leadoff hitter Abby Lee doubled to center field on a 3-2 pitch. Senior Lexi Anaya then ripped the next pitch down the left-field line for another double to put St. Ignatius on top.

Aside from that two-better stretch, Pochie kept St. Ignatius in check.

“My screwball and my rise were my go-to pitches today,” Pochie said. “I felt good and my teammates played good defense behind me.”

Giles allowed just two base runners. Pochie led off the third inning with a bunt single and stole second, but she was left there as Giles retired the next three hitters.

St. Laurence’s best threat came in the fourth when Fiona Sjostrom drew a leadoff walk, stole second and eventually reached third on a passed ball with two outs.

Giles, though, struck out the next three hitters against the heart of the Vikings’ order with their Nos. 3, 4, and 5 hitters. Giles dominated the middle of the order all day as those three went 0-for-9 with eight strikeouts.

She retired the final 12 Vikings hitters of the game.

“I told the girls that it was going to take the little things to get a win, and obviously we just didn’t have that,” St. Laurence coach Teagan Walsh said. “It was hard to make adjustments against the rise ball. This lineup produces a lot of runs. It’s tough to shut us out and when it does happen, it hurts a little bit.

“The good thing is we don’t have any seniors, so we get them all back next year. We’re excited.”

St. Laurence’s roster was composed of six juniors and six sophomores.

“We made it to the same place we did my freshman year,” Pochie said. “We’re still growing. We have a bunch of young girls. Next year, we’re going to have a lot of seniors and I feel like we’ll be a lot more ready to go next spring.

“Getting knocked out in the same place we did freshman year, we feel like we could have gone further. This gives us so much more motivation and fire for next year.”

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World Wiffle Ball Championship returning to south suburbs

The 43rd World Wiffle Ball Championship is returning to Memorial Park in south suburban Midlothian on July 16-17.

“We’re excited to gear up for this year’s Championship at Memorial Park in Midlothian. We can’t wait to see old and new Wifflers alike this summer come together to beat some plastic,” said Mike Baniak, Commissioner of the World Wiffle Ball Championship.

Registration is now open for the 2022 event at https://worldwiffleball.org/entry/. Players of all ages are eligible to comprise teams of four or five players. The registration fee is $149 and includes a WWBC T-shirt for each rostered player.

Each team will play four round-robin games on Saturday, July 16. Qualifying teams will then play in a single-elimination tournament on Sunday, July 17.

More than 50 teams competed in the 2021 World Wiffle Ball Championship, with players from nine different states participating. Proceeds from the 2022 championship will benefit South Suburban Humane Society.

Since 2018, over $10,000 has been raised by the event to help animals in need.

“We are delighted to welcome the World Wiffle Ball Championship back to the Chicago Southland,” said Jim Garrett, President/CEO of the Chicago Southland Convention & Visitors Bureau. “This is such a fun event, not only for players, but for the fans as well!”

For complete rules and more information, visit WorldWiffleBall.org.

Pro Soccer Report: Kowalksi, Pugh score for Red Stars in draw at KC

Jeff Vorva
Staff Writer

The Chicago Red Stars suffered a big blow on defense when defender Kayla Sharples was ruled out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL.

Sharples’ replacement in the starting lineup on June 18 was Amanda Kowalski. The Arlington Heights native decided to add some offense to her game, as her header in the 53rd minute — followed by Mallory Pugh’s sixth goal of the season six minutes later — helped the Red Stars forge a 2-2 draw with the Kansas City current at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

Kowalski was signed after defender Tierra Davidson sustained a season-ending injury, and she has picked up some playing time. Now, it appears she will be a defensive mainstay in the lineup alongside Orland Park native Tatumn Milazzo and Zoe Morse in Sharples’ absence.

“The toughest thing about coming in with a circumstance like that is that you don’t want to move past the fact that your teammate just had a horrible injury, but you have to put it in the back of your mind and try to forget about it,” Kowalski said. “The hardest part about coming in was having my emotions take a back seat and trying to stay as level-headed as possible.

“That helped us get a good result.”

Sharples sustained her injury during 20th minute of the Red Stars’ match against the Orlando Pride at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview on June 12.

She was a key member of the Red Stars’ backline this season – playing every minute this season until the injury.

The Red Stars hope the defensive injuries won’t hurt the team too much down the stretch. Despite have a three-match scoreless streak snapped against Kansas City, Red Stars coach Chris Petrucelli said the defense played well.

Morse praised Kowalski’s play.

“We had no doubts that Amanda could step in and play the role,” she said. “We have all the trust in the world in Amanda. It honestly wasn’t that big of a change for us. We had our game plan.”

The Red Stars (4-1-4 16 points) are in third place in the NWSL and are unbeaten in their last seven matches. They are tied with Portland with 16 points — two points behind San Diego — but are behind in the standings because of goal differential.

 

Coming up

With international breaks and World Cup qualifying, the Stars’ workload gets lighter in the coming weeks.

The visit Gotham on July 2 in a month that features just four games. Compare that with a recent stretch in which they had to soldier through five games in 16 days in late May and early June.

The next SeatGeek Stadium appearance will be July 10 against North Carolina.

 

Tie for II

The Chicago Fire II picked up a point over the weekend, getting one with a 1-1 road tie against the Philadelphia Union II, but lost the opportunity for another point with a 3-0 shootout loss.

Omari Glasgow, who returned after playing with a national team in Guyana, scored his third goal of the season in the 49th minute to even the MLS Next Pro game.

The Fire (2-6-4, 11 points) recovered from a 5-0 loss to St. Louis CITY2 on June 11 to pick up the point.

“The team responded well,” Fire coach Ludovic Taillander said. “We also have to see that from one game to another there was a chance for change. We had a lot of players who played today and started today who weren’t on the field last week and didn’t experience the big loss.”

The Fire hosts the New England Revolution II at 4 p.m. Sunday at SeatGeek Stadium.

 

Mexican matches

While the Red Stars and Fire II were out of town, SeatGeek Stadium hosted a couple of games that drew huge crowds.

Atlas beat Chivas 1-0 on Saturday in the Pretemporada MX 2022 Clásico Tapatío.

On Sunday at the Clásico Capitalano, Pumas beat America, 3-1, in front of a sellout crowd. SeatGeek has a 20,000 capacity for soccer matches.

Area Sports Roundup: Troy Grevengoed leaving Richards to coach volleyball at Chicago Christian

By Jeff Vorva
Staff Writer

As the girls volleyball coach at Richards, Troy Grevengoed coached against Chicago Christian when two of his daughters played there.

He has also watched his daughters from the stands as a fan.

Now, he enters a third phase.

Grevengoed is the new girls volleyball coach at the Palos Heights private school. He replaces Karen Van Assen, who left the position to spend more time with her family after a 2021 season in which the Knights took third in the state in Class 2A.

Grevengoed’s oldest daughter, Logan, graduated from that team with more than 1,000 career kills. Also gone is libero Olivia Ingelse, but plenty of talent is scheduled to return to the Knights in 2022, including Delanie Grevengoed, Nikki Swiney, Keely Colyer, Melanie Gonzalez and Josie Triezenberg.

Troy Grevengoed, who won more than 300 matches as the longtime boys and girls volleyball coach at Richards and also coached the Michio club team, is ready to roll.

“I’m not so much worried about the pressure, it’s just learning a new environment,” he said. “I’ve been very comfortable at Richards. I’ve coached there for 20 years and that’s kind of what I know.

“The cool thing is that Chicago Christian is wrapped up in that culture of winning and I’m excited to serve that community. I have a lot of support.”

The Knights have one of the top programs in the area with five state trophies, including a Class 2A state title in 2010.

Grevengoed is a 1994 graduate of Chicago Christian, where he played basketball, soccer, tennis and golf. He shot up from 5-foot-10 his junior year of high school to 6-foot-5 by the start of college, and played club volleyball at Trinity Christian College. He’s been hooked on the sport ever since.

He has his children hooked as well. Logan is heading to Western Kentucky, Delanie has verbally committed to Appalachian State and Chase is a sophomore at Chicago Christian. Quinn is an eighth grader at Calvin Christian.

Grevengoed said he enjoys coaching his girls.

“It’s pretty seamless most of the time,” he said. “There are times when we have to work through some stuff, but it’s never a challenge that’s tougher than coaching someone else’s kids.

“It’s probably tougher on them than it is on me. They have a dad who can always give them more feedback and give them more criticism.”

Hannah Kilbaine of SXU was named CCAC Player of the Year in women’s golf. Photo courtesy of Saint Xavier University Department of Athletics

Kilbane killin’ it

Saint Xavier University sophomore Hannah Kilbane, a Sandburg graduate, was named the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference women’s golf Player of the Year on June 14.

She and Emily Hunt, a sophomore from Texas, were named All-CCAC first team. It is the second consecutive year that Hunt and Kilbane were first-team All-CCAC. Kilbane was named the CCAC Freshman of the Year last year and is the first SXU golfer to win Player of the Year since former NAIA All-American Taylor Thompson won the award in 2014.

“I was fortunate to come in with these quality kids,” first-year women’s golf coach Alan Lynn said. “The kids put in the work in the classroom and on the golf course. It’s good to see them recognized.”

Kilbane participated in three tournaments and one match play event during the 2021-22 season. She had two second place finishes, including finishing as the runner-up at the CCAC Championship after winning the event in 2021.

Kilbane recorded her lowest round of the season with a 74 on day two of the CCAC Cup in October. In six rounds, Kilbane averaged a score of 77.5.

 

Sandburg stars

A pair of two-sport athletes were honored by Sandburg.

Cross country and track star Declan Tunney and basketball and soccer star Erin O’Connor were named the school’s Senior Athletes of the Year.

 

Eagles return to nest

On June 13, Sandburg hosted a girls basketball summer shootout with Naperville North, Schaumburg and Yorkville.

It was no coincidence these three programs were the ones battling it out.

Naperville North coach Erin (Catel) Colletti, Schaumburg coach Jacqi (Storm) Strauch and Yorkville coach Kim Wensits are not only former Eagles basketball players, they were former teammates.

Club America, Pumas match at SeatGeek officially sold out

PRIMETIME Sports announced Friday that the Pretemporada MX 2022 Clásico match between Club América and Pumas to be played on Sunday, June 19, at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview is officially sold out and Saturday’s Clásico Tapatío match is working towards a sellout.
The two-day event hosts Liga MX’s two biggest derbies at SeatGeek Stadium. The Clásico Tapatío will take place on Saturday, June 18, pitting Guadalajara giants C.D. Chivas vs. neighbor and back-to-back champion Atlas. The second match on Sunday, June 19, features one of the most passionate rivalries in Mexico, the Clásico Capitalino, featuring Club América against its Mexico City rival, Pumas U.N.A.M.
The event will have high profile guests perform the national anthems. Saturday evening recording artist Pablo Montero will sing the Mexican national anthem while the honor on Sunday goes to Latin Grammy-nominated artist Leonardo Aguilar. The Star-Spangled Banner for both games will be performed by famed local group Familia Lucero.
PRIMETIME Sports will host a FanFest taking place prior to both matches outside SeatGeek Stadium starting at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Chivas legend Adolfo “Bofo” Bautista will make an appearance at the FanFest while Sunday Club América and Pumas legend Alberto García Aspe will be on hand to sign autographs and meet with fans.

Baseball Class 4A State Finals: Brother Rice takes third with romp over McHenry

By Jeff Vorva
Staff Writer

Some view state third-place games as a waste of time.

It’s usually the game nobody wants to be involved in after having their dreams of winning a state championship crushed by a loss in the semifinals.

But the third-place game in the IIHSA Class 4A baseball state tournament produced a special moment for one Brother Rice pitcher.

Senior Jake Fenton sustained a knee injury during the regular season and underwent surgery, with the thought he wasn’t going to return to the hill for the Crusaders this season.

But the Loras-bound Fenton got the knee back in shape, and Crusaders coach Sean McBride let him start and pitch an inning in the third-place game as Brother Rice beat McHenry, 14-4, in five innings at Duly Health and Care Field in Joliet on June 11.

“Man, to be on an amazing team with such a hot start, it was honestly awful to come out,” he said of the injury. “But having all of these guys behind me and knowing they were still my family, even though I wasn’t playing anymore. I was able to show them I was still here even though it was one inning. It meant so much to me.

“It was one final hoorah.”

Fenton said he has been dealing with knee issues for three seasons, but this year made six appearances and was 3-0 with a 1.65 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 17 innings before the injury. Fenton, Cole Van Assen and Dylan Warda were forming a seemingly unbeatable trio.

But in a game on April 16, the scar tissue in his left knee was flaring up. There were times he couldn’t move the knee after he heard “a pop and a click.”

After the surgery, he was told it would be six-to-eight weeks before he could return, and he was cleared for duty for the state tournament.

He gave up a hit, but that runner was erased on a double play and Fenton left the game with a shutout inning, facing the minimum amount of batters and throwing 16 pitches.

“We’re all competitors and we want to win, but this is about baseball and the experience for these kids,” McBride said. “I just feel that at Brother Rice, there is no better experience for a young student athlete to play baseball.

“To see Jake go through what he did … he was dealing at the beginning of the year. He was doing it all essentially on one leg. Nobody knew if he could come back. It just shows the toughness of him and the toughness of our group. He was at every practice. It meant the world to get him our there and pitch with his brothers one last time.”

Brother Rice players gather around the third-place trophy for photos Saturday in Joliet. Photo by Jeff Vorva

McHenry (30-11) grabbed a 3-0 lead, but in the bottom of the third the Crusaders (37-6) exploded for eight runs. No. 8 hitter Beau Polickey scored twice in that inning.

Brother Rice scored two more runs in the fourth and four in the fifth to end it via the 10-run rule.

Sophomore pitcher Casey Giemzik got the win to improve to 5-1. Will Flanigan had two hits and scored three runs. Bryce Nevils and Polickey each drove in two runs. Zion Rose, Jack Lausch, pinch runner Sean Sullivan and Polickey each scored twice.

As a nice consolation prize, the Crusaders set a school record for wins, which is a huge accomplishment given the national schedule that they played.

Brother Rice’s dreams of a state title were dashed on Friday in a 7-4 loss to Edwardsville, which went on to win the state title.

The Crusaders struck first, building up a 3-0 lead heading into the bottom of the third, but the Tigers scored four in the third and three in the fourth and held the high-powered Crusader offense down to one run on three hits the rest of the way.

Rose had two hits and two RBI while Amir Gray had two hits and scored twice.

Zion Rose (left) and Jack Lausch get together with Brother Rice coach Sean McBride during the medal ceremony at the IHSA state baseball tournament. The Crusaders finished third in the state in Class 4A. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Area Sports Roundup: Notre Dame’s Dylan Jacobs wins national championship in 10,000 meters

By Jeff Vorva
Staff Writer

Add a national championship to Dylan Jacobs’ already impressive list of accomplishments in 2022.

The Orland Park resident and Sandburg graduate broke a four-minute mile on Jan. 22 and set an American college indoor record in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 13:14.04 seconds on Feb. 12.

On June 8, he managed a rare accomplishment in the 10,000-meter run, winning an NCAA Track and Field national championship with a time of 28:12.32 in Eugene, Oregon.

He actually fell during the race and had to recover.

“I stepped on the rail and went down,” Jacobs told ESPN after the race. “I was like, ‘well, better get up and finish now.”

Finish he did, as his final 800 meters was run in 1:57.63 and his closing lap was in 55.45.

That allowed him to become the first Irish runner to win the event since Ryan Shay in 2001.

“I mean, I’ve dreamed about this,” he said after the race. “I’ve trained with, I think, the best team in the country, the best guys. We have four of them out there, and we’ve prepared every day to come out to nationals and to perform. And fortunately, it worked out today where I was able to take it home.”

 

Follow the leader

Mia Kennelly of Oak Lawn won the leadership award at the Class 3A/4A Illinois Basketball Coaches Association All-Star Game Saturday at Pontiac High School.

She played in the North’s 86-81 win over the South and scored two points. She is heading to play at the University of St. Francis (Joliet) next season.

Marist’s Kara Chivers and Stagg’ Laila Barakat each scored eight points.

De La Salle’s DaJuan Bates scored 13 points in North’s 117-113 loss in the 3A/4A boys game.

 

Transfer mania

Love it or hate it, transfers in boys high school basketball are making the news as summer league and tournaments commence.

Powerhouse St. Rita, which already has Division I prospects James Brown, Morez Johnson (who both made the Pangos All-American Camp All-Star Team last week) and three other regulars on the roster, added Nojus Indrusaitis, who averaged 22.6 points per game as a sophomore for Lemont last season.

Homewood-Flossmoor star Nashawn Holmes is also heading to St. Rita.

The Mustangs were already ranked 23th in the nation in the Season Ticket Way Too Early Top 25 before these transfers.

Marist’s top player from last year, Xavier Sulaiman, is playing for Oak Lawn this summer.

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