Batavia guard Liza Fruendt absorbed her share of "SHE'S A FRESHMAN!" chants during her varsity girls basketball debut two seasons ago.
With Bulldogs coach Kevin Jensen promoting two freshmen from the start of the 2012-13 season – which tipped off Monday – Fruendt is doing her part to ensure guard Bethany Orman and forward Hannah Frazier are serenaded themselves.
"I know how it feels to be in that position, so I'm trying to make sure that they feel as comfortable as possible," Fruendt said. "It's nervewracking, but they're going to help us so much that they probably won't even feel like freshmen."
Senior guard Miranda Grizaffi and junior center Erin Bayram – recovered from a torn left ACL that ended her sophomore season – also return to the starting lineup.
In all, the Bulldogs boast seven players with varsity experience on their nine-player roster, but won't be the only team relying on youth. St. Charles North also features two freshmen, while St. Charles East and Geneva combine to carry three sophomores.
At Burlington Central, five of coach Mark Smith's 10 players are freshmen. That shouldn't be a novelty for Smith, whose daughter, Kelsey, played varsity in each of her four seasons at North.
Geneva's youngest member, sophomore combo Abby Novak, emerged during last season's stretch run, so the Vikings need not worry about her orientation into the varsity game.
After District 304 teachers avoided a strike early Monday, the Vikings also can remove concern about potentially missing practices or games. Then again, student-athletes weren't particularly immersed in the saga, anyway, per athletic director Jim Kafer.
"The students are there to learn and to play basketball or wrestle or whatever it might be," Kafer said. "To draw them in to collective bargaining talks isn't what we're all about."
We hope our annual basketball season preview section – set for publication Friday – holds player and fan interest more deeply.
Until then, get those chants ready. Fans of the Bulldogs (first game tonight) and North Stars (Wednesday) can unleash the "FRESHMAN" ones this week.
Winona slider: Kaneland's Allyson O'Herron plans to sign a national letter of intent with the Winona State softball team Wednesday, the first day high school seniors may do so.
While O'Herron is excited about officially committing to the NCAA Division II school in Minnesota, adding her John Hancock has been a few months in the making.
"Mostly, I knew that I wanted to go to Winona for a long time," she said.
Warriors coaches first noticed O'Herron while she played for the Kane County XPlosion two summers ago. They resurfaced again in July, when O'Herron verbaled.
A shortstop who said she'll be comfortable "anywhere on the infield" in college, O'Herron batted .421 with 32 RBIs last season, helping the Knights to 31 victories and conference and regional titles.
The inaugural Kane County Chronicle-St. Charles Bank & Trust Female Athlete of the Year for the 2011-12 school year, O'Herron is gearing up for basketball season, where she's a guard for a Knights team that is also coming off a regional title.
Softball remains part of her itinerary, however, as the XPlosion hold Wednesday conditioning workouts and Sunday hitting sessions.
"I still get a bunch of reps and stuff during the winter," O'Herron said.
• Kevin Druley is a sports writer for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or firstname.lastname@example.org.