2014 Baseball Season Preview

  • Written by Ken Karson


2013 Record: 16-14.
Head coach: Bill Gerny.
Assistant coaches: Chris Bohanek, Nick Chigas, Gary Gudino.
• Who’s gone: Bob Kametas, P/3B; Chris Rafacz, OF; Marcin Krzysiak, 1B; Billy Thome, C; Lee Baxa, P.
• Who’s back: Matt Dunne, 3B/P, Sr. (.361; 2.81 ERA); Mitch Swatek, 1B, P, Sr. (2.51 ERA; .382 in summer); Kevin Zurek, 2B, Sr. (.333); Brandon Quillin, SS/P, Jr. (.400 in summer); Matt Witkowski, OF/P, Jr. (1-0, 1.17 ERA in summer); Jake Slusinski, OF, Sr.
• Who’s new: Joe Dodaro, 1B/3B, Jr. (.364, 16 RBI for sophomore team); Ryne Melnik, OF, Jr. (.359, 17 RBI for sophomore team); John Roberts, C, So.; Justin Swatek, INF/OF/P, So.
• Outlook: Bill Gerny enjoyed quite the varsity-coaching debut, as the Spartans rewarded him with a somewhat unexpected South Suburban Conference Red title. Oak Lawn’s 2013 edition could not be classified as a dominant club, but it certainly was a resilient one as it beat back challenges from several teams to claim the top divisional spot.
The Spartans struggled somewhat against their nonconference competition last spring, but instead of lightening the load, Gerny plans to run his squad through an even stiffer gauntlet in 2014, one featuring St. Rita, St. Laurence, Lyons Township, Maine South, Sandburg, Brother Rice, De La Salle and three of the four Lincoln-Way schools among the formidable foes. Clearly, Gerny understands the value of testing Oak Lawn early and often in order to prepare it for another shot at SSC Red supremacy and perhaps some greater postseason success.
He’s placing these hurdles in front of his guys even though the Spartans have some rebuilding to do. It’s not so much quantity as quality that must be replaced — conference Player of the Year Bob Kametas, Oak Lawn’s unquestioned on-field leader a season ago, and all-conference selection Marcin Krzysiak are two major graduation-induced losses. Kametas will be missed both as a pitcher and everyday player, but the Spartans still have the makings of a solid staff in Kametas’ absence.

Softball Season Preview 2014

  • Written by Ken Karson


2013 Record: 16-15.
Head coach: John O’Connor.
• Who’s gone: Sophia Lamb, Megan Beckow, Abby Urchell, Chelsea Christopher, Maggie O’Toole, Michelle Estand, Colleen Burns.
• Who’s back: Carolyn Roberts, OF, Sr.; Jenna Haase, C, Jr.; Bethany Salazar, OF/P, So.; Maddie Vojacek, INF/P, So. Carly Rickert, INF, Jr.; Abby Langevin, INF/C, Jr.; Nicole Larkin, INF, Jr.
• Who’s new: Caroline Andrade, INF, Jr.; Kayla Izzo, OF, Jr.; Maddie Meisl, INF/OF So.
• Outlook: A solid core graduated from last season’s regional-championship squad, but Lady Mustangs coach John O’Connor is confident that enough talent remains on hand to set Evergreen Park up for another charge toward postseason glory. One more regional crown would make it three in the past five years for the Lady Mustangs. Headlining in 2014 will be the quartet of all-area selections Bethany Salazar (.575) and Maddie Vojacek (5-1, 1.80 earned-run average), plus Jenna Haase (.465) and Carolyn Roberts (.415). Of that group, only Roberts will graduate in May.
• Coach’s comments: “We need all of our returning starters to play up to their potential and hope a couple of our new players can fill the holes left by last year’s seniors. We must also stay healthy and get continued improvement from our younger players.
“Our strength should be hitting again and we should be solid with our pitchers. Elevating our defensive play and depth will be a concern.” — O’Connor.


You be the judge

of this court news

(Reprinted from
March 19, 2009)

  TV court shows have become quite the viewing staple over the past several years.
  Night-shift workers, college students, retirees and people who suspect they’ll see some family member achieve 15 minutes of infamy are the individuals most likely to sit down for a daily video visit with Judge Mathis, Judge Judy, Judge Joe Brown, Judge Reinhold or whichever legal mediator happens to occupy that particular half-hour.
  These shows are popular because the folks who watch them learn a little bit about the law and also develop a fresh perspective on how good their own lives really are in comparison to the parade of human flotsam that continually bobs in front of the camera lens.
  Later this month, though, interest in the courtroom antics will probably wane a bit and be replaced by a different sort of court entertainment. When March Madness gets underway, everyone suddenly becomes a basketball junkie for a couple of weeks.

Baseball roundup

  • Written by Ken Karson

Local teams hit the road

Knights, Crusaders, RedHawks able to open 2014 season

Spring trips to Florida are commonplace for many high school- and college-aged students.

Baseball players at Marist, however, opted to travel in the other direction. They went to Arizona, where cold temperatures were nowhere to be found and they were able to begin their 2014 season on schedule.
Athletes at Chicago Christian and Brother Rice, meanwhile, chose Jacksonville as their destination last weekend — Jacksonville, Ill., that is. While winter hadn’t yet loosened its grip on the downstate locale, either, that town’s Lenz Field is covered with artificial turf, meaning baseball games were able to get played.
Both the Knights and Crusaders saw action twice on Saturday, and the former triumphed in each instance. Wins over Midwest Central (6-2) and Valmeyer (13-11) gave Christian a 6-0 mark in three journeys to Jacksonville over the past two years.

Softball roundup

  • Written by Anthony Nasella

Lady RedHawks stay busy on Florida trip

While softball fields around the area were unplayable last week due to the lingering effects of a brutal winter, Marist was unaffected.
That’s because the Lady RedHawks ventured to Orlando, Fla., during their school’s spring break. Marist players spent most of their days at the ballpark instead of the beach, but they still had some fun in the sun as they returned home with three wins in six tries.
The Lady RedHawks opened their 2014 campaign with a 2-1 victory over Miami Gulliver Prep on Monday and then defeated Penbrooke Pines Charter 3-1 the next day. After suffering a 4-1 loss to Westminster Christian in the first of two Wednesday contests, Marist bounced back to beat Osceola of Orlando 9-1.
The Lady RedHawks closed things out on Thursday with setbacks against Pines Harmony (2-1), which is ranked 15th nationally, and St. Cloud (8-4).
“I was pleased with the play of both our young girls and older girls,” said Marist coach Denise Fasano, who is in her final season in charge of the Lady RedHawks’ varsity program.
“It’s just a matter of the two groups communicating with one another, definitely cooperating with each other, and believing in each other. This is a group who I believe can perform [well] on game day together.”