It’s good with wood

  • Written by Frank Gogola

 Shepard continues a long-standing summertime tradition

  Baseball is a game in which failure is much more common than success.
  Nowhere else would an individual be considered an above-average performer when he makes good only 30 percent of the time. But no one criticizes a .300 hitter.
  As a coach, Frank DiFoggio understands that as well as anyone. He also realized long ago that being properly schooled in fundamentals is the best way for a player to maximize his potential.
  And that isn’t only true for those who toil at the sport’s highest level.
  In fact, a dedication to the basics is probably more important for a high school athlete whose skills are still in the developmental stage. However, the standard use of aluminum bats often allowed athletes to play through flaws by enabling them to send balls flying even on desperation swings.
  In 2004, DiFoggio decided to try something radical to ensure that his Shepard players wouldn’t rely on shortcuts. In the summer of that year, he had the Astros use wood bats for the first time.

Summer baseball roundup

  • Written by Ken Karrson

New names keeping Vikings formidable

  Tom Farrell, Dan Heiden, Anthony Robles — those individuals may be ones opposing batters eventually come to fear.
  Foes probably breathed a sigh of relief when St. Laurence bid farewell to pitchers Mike Kornacker and Brad Wood this spring. Those two, along with 2013 graduate Zach Lewis, comprised one of the Chicagoland area’s most talented pitching rotations of recent vintage, so their departures were undoubtedly welcomed outside of Burbank.
  But while the names are changing, the Vikings’ fortunes may not be, at least if last week’s summer results are any sort of accurate barometer. Farrell, Heiden and Robles all took turns starring on the hill as St. Laurence went 3-1 and stayed well above .500 for the season.


Traveling a Rocky road to Hall of Fame

(Reprinted from Dec. 10, 2010)

  Rocky Marciano, Rocky Graziano, Rocky Balboa.
  One retired an undefeated heavyweight champion, one spent some time as a middleweight champion before eventually becoming an actor and one was a box-office champion who was never anything but an actor. And all three are now in boxing’s Hall of Fame.
  Marciano and Graziano, a winner of 67 fights during his career, receiving their sport’s highest honor is understandable. Placing Rocky Balboa — or, more accurately, his creator — there is a bit more mind-boggling.
  But that’s what happened last week when actor Sylvester Stallone was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and Museum at the same time as real-life boxers Mike Tyson and Julio Cesar Chavez. To his credit, Stallone was properly respectful about his unexpected prize, saying in a statement that it was his “privilege to have been blessed with the ability to write about the incredible courage and commitment of the many thousands of real-life Rockys whom we have watched perform honorably in the ring.”
  Truth be known, most Rockys never do all that much within the squared circle. For example Chuck Wepner, the fighter on whom the Rocky character is supposedly based, served as a punching bag for Muhammad Ali in a 1975 bout.

Community sports news

Palos Heights man sinks pair of aces

Most golfers will never experience the thrill of making a hole-in-one.
Bob Murphy became part of that group on June 11. Then he accomplished something far more rare: a repeat performance.
Six days after notching an ace at Zigfield Troy Golf Course in Woodridge, the 23-year-old Palos Heights man sank another hole-in-one, this time at Bolingbrook Golf Course. Amazingly, those weren't Murphy's first two aces, but the third and fourth he has recorded since he began golfing.
These latest ones came on holes measuring 109 yards (No. 7 at Zigfield Troy) and 152 yards (No. 17 at Bolingbrook).
Murphy, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Stout with a degree in golf enterprise management, has begun a career in his field by serving as the Bolingbrook course's assistant golf pro.

2014 All-Area Baseball Team



CHRISTIAN BOLHUIS, Chicago Christian, P, Jr.
• With 23 varsity wins already banked, Bolhuis is on track to become the Knights’ all-time victories leader in 2015 as he trails record holder Trent Overzet by just six. His 2014 pitching numbers on the Knights’ behalf were almost off the charts — his 100 whiffs topped all area hurlers, and he did that while throwing only 64 1/3 innings and walking just 19 batters. The Suburban Christian Conference Player of the Year posted an 8-3 ledger, allowed 35 hits, sported a minuscule 1.20 earned-run average and held opposing hitters to a meager .146 cumulative average. Bolhuis, the son of Knights football coach Jim Bolhuis, became just the third Chicago Christian baseball player ever named to the all-state team, joining Mike Kamp (2012) and Bob Schaaf (1990). Offensively, this paper’s Player of the Year chipped in a .326 average, .415 on-base percentage, 24 runs, 23 RBI and nine doubles. Bolhuis will be the Knights’ starting quarterback for the third season in a row this fall.