SPOTLIGHT ON ...
Sycamore, senior, catcher
Originally slated to start in right field, Swartzendruber showed he’s the consummate team player when he stepped in to play catcher for the shorthanded Spartans.
“Curtis is our most versatile player,” Sycamore coach Jason Cavanaugh said. “He was going to be our backup catcher, but has really stepped up and filled in nicely.”
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
DeKalb vs. Sycamore, 4:30 p.m. Monday at Northern Illinois University
The two rivals square off in the first of a three-game set played out over the next week.
Burlington Central at Genoa-Kingston, 4:30 p.m. Tuesday
The Cogs get an early Big Northern Conference test when Burlington visits Genoa.
1. Sycamore (2-1)
2. DeKalb (3-4)
3. Hiawatha (1-0)
4. Hinckley-Big Rock (2-2)
5. Indian Creek (2-1)
6. Kaneland (2-5)
7. Genoa-Kingston (0-0)
NOTEBOOK: Teams dealing with football weather
A pair of Torpedo heaters pump out air at 500 degrees for the Spartans when fall arrives for Friday night football games. On Tuesday, in a 7-4 home win against Guilford, the Sycamore baseball team was the beneficiary of the heaters’ hot air.
“It’s been a rough spring,” Sycamore baseball coach Jason Cavanaugh said. “We are the only team on our schedule with a field ready for play. So, we’ve hosted every game so far. We just can’t get away from the cold. Everyone on the team wants to get games in, we are anxious to get going.”
Sycamore (2-1) had one bad inning all season – the first inning in a season-opening loss to Harlem where the Spartans gave up six runs. With a short-handed roster, the Spartans turned to Scott Nelson (1-0), who worked quickly to pick up the win Tuesday by throwing only 80 pitches in six innings to pick up the win.
Joe Piekarz wants Indian Creek to be in control.
The Timberwolves coach a – former pitcher at Northern Illinois – has the pitching staff working to get ahead in counts. The results paid off with a clean box score in an 11-2 home win against LaMoille on Tuesday.
Indian Creek (2-1, 2-0 Little Ten) was errorless behind freshman Drew Headley (1-0), who was efficient in a five-inning, eight-strikeout start.
“We work hard at every practice to focus on attacking the strike zone,” Piekarz said. “We want hitters to earn everything. We’d rather give up a hit than have a half-hour inning loaded with walks, that will put our fielders to sleep.
“We want to concentrate on what we can control. For us, that’s throwing strikes and playing defense. In three games, our pitching staff has four walks. We’ll take that.”
A cold spring has robbed area teams from racking up nonconference games like they did in 2012. But a 12-10 win Tuesday against regional foe Sandwich gave Kaneland (1-5) an edge at next month’s seeding meetings.
“That was a big win for us,” Kaneland coach Brian Aversa said about the back-and-forth game in which Joe Komel (1-0) picked up the win in relief. “We have a busy schedule the next few days and will have a chance to piece together a few wins.”
VIEWS: Kaneland has developed a winning pedigree
Baseball fields across the state don’t have their usual look.
The lack of snow cover in the winter, and the cold, dry spring, have the grass and infield dirt sharing a strong resemblance in lifeless shades of brown.
While an interminable winter eating away at the days of spring is far from an abnormality in the Midwest – 2012’s warmth seemed to be the exception to the norm – there is something different at Kaneland (1-5) thus far.
The Knights’ spring break road trip to St. Louis didn’t yield a win. Kaneland edged out Sandwich, 12-10, on Tuesday in Maple Park for its first win. The cold, windy conditions aren’t normally conducive for a bonanza of runs, but Kaneland has bucked the trends this spring.
With back-to-back Northern Illinois Big 12 East titles and a Class 3A state title in 2010, the Knights have developed a winning pedigree. Albeit with a considerably different roster.
“We are dealing with some inexperience issues,” said Kaneland coach Brian Aversa when asked about the 0-5 road trip in which Kaneland led in every game in the fourth inning or later. “We start mostly seniors but return only one starter. We are going to work hard and will get some experience and the know-how part of the game down.”
With a roster that has younger brothers from the state and conference title teams and an experienced coach with a state title on his resumé, expect the Knights’ fortunes to change.
The late-arriving spring weather has kept the grass from turning green. But by the time it does, expect Kaneland to be in contention for another NI Big 12 East title.
• James Nokes is a contributor to the Daily Chronicle. Write to him at email@example.com.