Shortstop is not the position where a team wants to be frequently shuffling its personnel, but that is the scenario St. Charles North has found itself in this spring.
A position that has been a traditional strength for the North Stars has been more of a trial-by-error, seasonlong audition for the North Stars this season, though North coach Todd Genke might be arriving at a solution in time for the postseason.
Frankie Farry's first game as the team's starting shortstop came Friday at Batavia, and Farry handled the position smoothly as North's defense turned in a rare, errorless game, and beat Batavia, 3-0.
"He's got some good movement, he's got some good feet," Genke said. "I told him at practice the other day, we're going to try to make some changes in the lineup.
"Timmy Misner's been through a lot but, to me, Misner's a second baseman by trade. He's been doing a great job for us but I just felt it was maybe time to move him around a little bit, and you saw what happened. I think Frank stepped up today. Maybe we found something."
Farry was again solid at shortstop Saturday as the North Stars dropped a pair to the Bulldogs in a doubleheader.
With infield defense being an adventure at times this season, Genke has kept an open mind about pinpointing the best defensive lineup. Catcher Ryan Thomas also saw time at third base against Batavia as North sophomore Carson Schmitt filled in behind the plate.
"We've got some guys that are pretty versatile, which is really nice to have at the varsity level," Genke said. "We're going to try to use that versatility to our advantage and give guys opportunities that deserve it."
Special night for Knights, Bulldogs
Kaneland and Batavia will play under the lights Friday at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark as the former conference rivals celebrate a shared senior night. The sophomores will play at 4:30 p.m., followed by the varsity game at 7.
According to a news release from Kaneland coach Brian Aversa, "The main reason for the evening is that our proceeds collected at the game will be donated to the Caitlyn Phillips Memorial. Caitlyn was a fun and energetic 7th grader at Harter Middle School whose life was tragically ended at such a young age. As a resident of Elburn and a member of our Kaneland family, the senior baseball players agreed that they wanted to support Caitlyn’s Memorial to help her family.
"Each year, the seniors get to decide which family, charity, or organization will receive our donation from the game. This year they have found a great need to help the Phillips’ family. Please come out and support the seniors and help us make this possible.
"We are also inviting all of the future Kaneland players and their families to attend the game with the intention of giving the players a feeling of what Kaneland High School Baseball is all about."
Admission cost for the game is $5 for adults, $4 for high school and middle school students and $3 for elementary students. Children under age 5 get in free.
Familiar feeling for Bieterman
First-year Aurora Central Catholic coach Sean Bieterman is presiding over a major turnaround for the Chargers, who are enjoying one of their best seasons in program history.
The Chargers, who are guaranteed their first winning season since 2006, entered play Monday with a 25-6 record.
Bieterman is familiar with big-time baseball success, having coached at former powerhouse Driscoll from 2003-09 before moving on to Lincoln-Way Central.
"This team, this group, this program, the way we're evolving, is reminding me so much of what we were able to build over at Driscoll," Bieterman said. "I mean, it really is. It's the same kind of kid. It's a tough kid, it's a selfless kid, it's a kid who cares about the team first. It's a kid that's really passionate and driven to win, and also driven to improve themselves on a daily basis."
IN THE GROOVE
Cory Wright, St. Charles North, So., P/IF
What he did: Wright pitched a complete game, three-hitter against Batavia on Friday, handing the host Bulldogs a 3-0 loss in the opener of the teams' Upstate Eight Conference River series.
Dan Berendt, Geneva, Sr., OF
What he did: Berendt homered in both games of Saturday's doubleheader sweep against Elgin, and also turned in one of the best throws of the season last Tuesday when his throw from right field retired Batavia speedster Laren Eustace as Eustace tried to tag up to third base.
WHAT WE LEARNED FROM LAST WEEK
Kaneland's John Hopkins is rounding back into form.
Hopkins, who was unable to pitch for most of the first half of the season with an injury, threw a complete game Saturday as the Knights edged Streator, 2-1, in a Northern Illinois Big 12 crossover.
WHAT WE'LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD
Whether Batavia or St. Charles East wins the Upstate Eight Conference River Division.
The Bulldogs (16-6 UEC River) entered the final week of the regular season with a half-game edge on the Saints (15-6 UEC River), with a three-game set against Streamwood awaiting Batavia beginning today, while the Saints play a three-game series against Larkin and a potential resumption of a postponed game against St. Charles North.
COACH SLY SEZ …
St. Charles North's season is a good reminder to all the winning program out there (not just baseball) to appreciate the good times and not take success for granted.
The North Stars are by no means at rock-bottom but it looks like they could land on the wrong side of .500, which for a program that has been so consistently good is still quite a drop-off.
Even some of the best coaching staffs and programs with great tradition aren't immune to the cyclical nature of high school sports.
Now, all that said, the North Stars could still make some noise in regionals next week. With a couple pretty doggone good lefties in Shah and Wright, if the Stars have a good day(s) with their gloves and bats, maybe they can sneak out a low-scoring upset or two.