ST. CHARLES – St. Charles North baseball coach Todd Genke turned to one of his former players to set in motion a new, summer opportunity for the North Stars.
Andrew Elke, a class of 2006 North graduate, is now co-owner of the Force Elite travel baseball program, which organized a tournament this weekend at St. Charles North.
Elke, still among the program's all-time leaders in several offensive categories, orchestrated the 11-team tournament Friday through Sunday at North in which the North Stars are the lone high school program in a field full of travel teams.
"He's like 'Yeah, I think we can put one together,' so he's really the one that got all the teams, kind of set the brackets up, set the schedules up, got the umpires," Genke said. "We basically just provided the facility so that's one less thing they have to pay for but I told him 'Alright, we want to be in it as well.'
"He was able to get us in it. It's just kind of neat. It's different than what we're used to in the spring or even the summer."
The North Stars split a pair of tournament games Saturday, their first day of competition in the event. In their second game of the day, North defeated the Quad Cities Cannons, 9-3, in a game that was stopped after six innings due to the tournament time limit for games.
About midway through North's summer schedule, Genke likes the way the North Stars are regrouping after an uncharacteristically lukewarm 2013 season.
"I'm seeing a lot of good things from the younger guys," Genke said. "Our baserunning has really been good this summer. We've hit the ball pretty well. Pitching, we lost Ankur (Shah) and Sawyer (Chambers) so we have to replace some arms, but we're kind of ahead of the curve in my opinion, from where we ended and where we thought we'd be.
"It's a good experience. We kept 30 guys [for the summer] which is a lot but I kept 30 because we had a lot of holes to fill and on top of that, I knew we'd have tournaments like this where we're missing like four kids that are not here right now, but we've got 26 other guys."
Considering there is a possibility for North to play three games in the tournament on Sunday, that depth will come in handy, especially on the pitcher's mound and behind home plate.
Genke said North has four catchers he's comfortable rotating in junior Carson Schmitt, senior Mitch Hurst, junior Kyle Khoury and junior Ben Theile. Schmitt and Hurst each caught one of Saturday's games.
"I actually kind of like playing a lot of games in a short amount of time," Schmitt said. "It keeps you sharp."
Schmitt, a varsity call-up part-way through his sophomore season, helped spell graduated catcher Ryan Thomas behind the plate in the spring.
"I've been working hard at it, and hopefully I get the starting job come the spring-time," said Schmitt, who went 2 for 3 offensively in the win against Quad Cities.
North junior third baseman Jordan Bergren reached base in all three of his at-bats in the win against the Cannons. His older brother, former North standout and current University of Minnesota outfielder Jake Bergren, was in attendance.
"Jordan, boy, he can hit," Genke said. "He hits the ball really well. We're still trying to figure out what position he's going to be but he's got those good bloodlines. He's a great kid."