Cyclones lose tennis opener before blasting Sauk Valley
Moraine Valley College won’t post an unbeaten record in tennis this season, but it has already displayed plenty of resiliency.
The 2014 campaign got underway last Thursday, but not in the manner the Cyclones hoped. While the fight was there, a win wasn’t, as Prairie State College bagged a 5-4 triumph.
Kevin Karczynski and Mike Broderick were Moraine’s ringleaders, as each player netted a match victory in singles action before joining forces to triumph at No. 1 doubles. Karczynski, Brad Smith and Broderick gave the Cyclones a clean sweep at first-, second- and third-singles.
Third-doubles was the deciding match, as Christian Lagunas rolled his ankle during it and performed at less than full strength after that. The Pioneers took advantage of Lagunas’ weakened state to capture the win.
While not making any excuses for his squad’s setback, Moraine coach Ben Thompson also refused to concede anything to the Cyclones’ conqueror.
“We will see Prairie State again,” he said. “Their coach said they got lucky, but we still have a lot of work to do.”
Moraine showed no ill effects from its earlier disappointment when it returned to the court on Saturday. There, the Cyclones thrashed Sauk Valley College 9-0 in Palos Hills.
Producing singles victories were Karczynski, Smith, Broderick, Ryan Adamski, Alec Mikes and Bryan Jimenez. Mikes rallied from a 6-4 first-set loss to prevail at No. 5 singles.
In their first official doubleheader of the season on Saturday, the Cyclones split with Elgin College.
Mike Levigne’s complete game on the hill sparked Moraine’s 2-1 win in the opener. Levigne allowed no earned runs and was supported offensively by Jason Hine, who stroked two hits.
Shepard grad Kevin Siergiej carried a shutout into the sixth inning of Game 2 before the Spartans’ bats finally awakened. Elgin errors helped the Cyclones avoid a shutout, but they still fell to a 6-1 defeat.
Another batch of softball players are ready to strut their stuff in 2014.
Between poor weather and injuries, the Cyclones weren’t able to have the kind of season they wanted in 2013, but they’re hoping for better luck this year. Moraine lost big hitters Sam Staisiunas and Danielle Stark, along with starting pitcher Emily Kurek, but it still has some solid contributors returning to the lineup.
All-Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference first-team players Amie Raynor (Sandburg) and Jenny Vanek (Mother McAuley), who batted .400 and .330, respectively, are back, as are fellow sophomores Ari Bulthius (Mother McAuley), who had 23 RBI last spring, and Janay McGovern.
Vanek is the team’s shortstop and expected to be solid again in all phases, while Bulthius is a terror at the plate. Raynor is pulling double duty with pitching and catching this year, but has the skill to play any position on the field, and McGovern brings her versatility back behind the plate and at third base.
A talented incoming class includes Kristie Bagus (Shepard), Megan Beckow (Evergreen Park), Dana Cummings (Richards), Sofia Lamb (Evergreen Park), Emily Nettle (Oak Lawn), Samantha Newhall (Shepard), Jazmine Ramirez (Queen of Peace), Carly Trinley and Abby Urchell (Evergreen Park).
Fourth-year coach Mike Veen doesn’t have to tell his athletes to play hard because they already have that mind-set. And the Cyclones’ roster features a number of interchangeable parts.
The goal is to finish the season well.
“I want them to improve every game, whether it’s a little or a lot -- that’s what I tell my players,” Veen said. “I could care only about my record — and don’t get me wrong, I like to win — but sometimes the ball is in the other court. I’m looking for a good season and I want them to have fun.”
The Cyclones were able to squeeze a doubleheader in on March 22 between wild weather spurts, and they showed their stuff in a sweep of Joliet Junior College.
All that indoor work with the bats paid off in Moraine’s 12-5 and 9-2 wins. Raynor pitched a complete first game, and she had offensive help from Beckow (three hits, three RBI), McGovern (three hits, three RBI), Trinley (3-for-4, two doubles, two runs, one RBI) and Bulthius (two hits, one run).
Despite registering only one strikeout in the second game, Nettle was able to coax batters into easy outs and hold the Wolves to two runs. Big batters for Moraine in this game included Vanek (two doubles, two RBI, two runs), Raynor (two-run homer) and Newhall (two hits, three RBI).