THE INSIDER: Softball

Published: Friday, April 26, 2013 5:30 a.m.CDT

SPOTLIGHT ON ...

Dani Clark
Hiawatha, senior, pitcher

Clark earned the win in the second game of a doubleheader against Indian Creek on Wednesday and also went 3 for 5 at the plate with a home run.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Marengo at Genoa-Kingston, 4:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday
The Cogs couldn’t find a victory in their two games against Burlington Central. Can they get a win against another Big Northern East power?

Kaneland at Yorkville, 4:30 p.m. Thursday
Big game in the Northern Illinois Big 12 East race.

POWER RANKINGS

1. DeKalb (13-4, 3-2 Northern Illinois Big 12 East): Barbs are a good hitting team that can keep opponents off the board as well.
2. Kaneland (11-2, 4-1 NI Big 12 East): Knights entered Thursday’s game against DeKalb in the thick of the conference race.
3. Genoa-Kingston (8-3, 3-2 Big Northern East): Cogs with two huge games against Marengo next week.
4. Sycamore (6-11, 2-5 NI Big 12 East): Jill Carpenter’s team is getting healthy at the right time.
5. Hiawatha (5-6, 5-5 Little Ten Conference): One of Hiawatha’s strengths is its pitching depth.
6. Indian Creek (3-9, 3-9 LTC): Timberwolves suffered a tough doubleheader sweep against Hiawatha this week.

NOTEBOOK: Spartans getting healthy at right time

Northern Illinois Big 12 East play hasn’t been too kind to the Sycamore softball team so far.

The Spartans entered Thursday’s game against Rochelle with one victory, but Sycamore hasn’t been at 100 percent.

Junior infielder Lyndsey Coddington just returned to the lineup after being out with mono, and catcher Becca Schroeder, a four-year starter, is back on the field after missing some time with an ankle injury.
On top of that, senior pitcher Abby Foulk has been ill, while another pitcher, junior Taylor Zak, was hit in the quad with a line drive recently.

“As soon as we get two back, it seems like we have two others go down,” Sycamore coach Jill Carpenter said. “But we’ve had kids step up, and that’s the name of the game.”

One player who helped the Spartans in Wednesday’s 6-0 win over Ottawa was freshman Jordyn Schultz. Schultz never had hit leadoff before, but took over that spot and went 3 for 4.

With Foulk and Zak unavailable, McKenna Marcinkowski stepped into the circle and gave up only three hits while earning the win.

“She did a really nice job [Wednesday], so that was encouraging,” Carpenter said.

Sycamore has had a tough go of things so far, but Carpenter expects the veteran Foulk to be back soon, and it looks like the Spartans are getting healthy at the right time.

“You’d like to think that way,” Carpenter said. “We’ve got a lot of losses on our record, I understand that, but six of them have been by two runs or less.”

Cogs comfortable with Engel, Ullmark
Genoa-Kingston coach Mike Lauer has two pitchers he can easily count on – senior Danielle Engel and sophomore Baylie Ullmark.

Each has a different style. Lauer describes Engel as more of a power pitcher, with Ullmark being one who can fool hitters with offspeed stuff.

G-K has been mixing them up, sometimes throwing both during a game. Lauer is trying to figure out what will work for the postseason, but right now he said he feels confident with either one in the circle.

“We feel pretty good about having two pitchers,” Lauer said. “During the game, we’ve been able to throw both and give them a different look.”

VIEWS: Path to regional title for Sycamore, G-K daunting

On May 25, one team will hoist a championship plaque after winning the Class 3A Sycamore Regional.
Whoever holds up that plaque will have earned it.

For starters, one of the five teams competing that week is Marengo, the 2011 Class 3A state champion and last year’s 3A runner-up. Then there’s Burlington Central, which won a regional last season after a wild offensive affair with DeKalb, and Hampshire, which plays in the bigger Fox Valley Conference.

The path to a regional title certainly won’t be easy for area teams Sycamore and Genoa-Kingston. The Cogs are playing their first season in Class 3A.

“It’s a tough regional, but we like that. It’s going to be a good one here,” G-K coach Mike Lauer said. “I know Sycamore’s a solid team. You’re going to have to play well to win a championship.”

Maybe Burlington Central and Marengo will be considered the favorites. However, the two local squads still aren’t pushovers.

Sycamore might have had only five wins entering Thursday’s game against Rochelle, but the Spartans haven’t been playing with a full lineup. G-K had a 7-3 record as of Wednesday, and has played Central close twice, although both contests ended with the Cogs on the wrong end of the scoreboard.

With the way the IHSA splits up its regionals, there always is going to be some, no matter what the sport, that seem a little more loaded.

You can put this year’s Class 3A Sycamore regional in that category.

“It should be good,” Spartans coach Jill Carpenter said. “You’ve got to like what Marengo puts out there, and Burlington Central had a good year last year and they have a lot of kids back.”

• Steve Nitz is a staff writer for the Daily Chronicle. He can be reached at snitz@shawmedia.com.

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