Geneva coach Matt Hahn looks around the horn and realizes his team is short on senior experience. That hardly keeps him from surveying the Vikings with optimism.
Rebounding from two largely uncompetitive losses to open last week's Upstate Eight River series with St. Charles North steeled Hahn's confidence, as junior lefty Garrett Davis delivered a two-hitter in Thursday's finale.
"That's one of the things as coaches we constantly preach. 'All right, we're young. We're going to make mistakes, you know,' " Hahn said. "The first two games of the series, we left a lot of guys on base and made a lot of errors. We left guys on base again [Thursday], but we obviously cut down on the errors, and that was the difference in the game.
"So there's going to be games … where we lose by the slaughter rule and then there's games … where we look like we beat arguably one of the best teams in the conference. That happens when you've got young guys, but hopefully when these guys mature, we're playing real good baseball."
Hahn notes the team, which features four sophomores, is merely "young by age," and should keep jelling as newcomers get better acclimated to the speed of varsity gameplay.
"I think that we're pretty humble. We've still got to go out there and we've got to earn the respect in the conference, and I think that we're doing all right," junior catcher Nathan Montgomery said. "We're doing all right this year."
Stahl, Stahl ...
Anthony Holubecki earned his fourth victory and Nick Stahl his fourth save Monday. One reason they have formed a formidable one-two punch for Kaneland is because Stahl did not become the Knights' third starter.
Part of the rotation in his first three seasons in the program, Stahl shifted to the closer role behind a sharp offspeed repertoire that offers a much different look than Holubecki's velocity-based approach.
"Nick's just been thriving. He's just done awesome in this position," Knights coach Brian Aversa said. "He wasn't really anything but a starter until this season, and he's been getting the job done. Efficiently."
Stahl entered Monday's game against visiting Yorkville with two on and no outs, and the Knights' clinging to a 2-0 lead. He retired the final three batters as Kaneland improved to 4-0 in the Northern Illinois Big 12 East.
Genke the gamer
North coach Todd Genke missed the middle game of the Geneva series with what he believed to be food poisoning. Still a bit queasy, he returned to the team Thursday, although watching Davis deal didn't exactly provide a salve.
"I couldn't miss another game. That was the first game I've ever missed due to something like that," Genke said. "I was happy that they played well [the day before]."
IN THE GROOVE
Geneva, Jr., P
What he did: The lefty threw a two-hitter Thursday to help Geneva salvage a game in its three-game series with St. Charles North.
Kaneland, So., P
What he did: Picking up his fourth victory Monday, Holubecki limited Yorkville to two hits in six innings while striking out nine.
WHAT WE LEARNED LAST WEEK
Sometimes fences get the worse end of the deal. That appeared to be the case Thursday when St. Charles North left fielder Nick Drawant sprung back up with a fantastic running catch against the wall to end the sixth inning against Geneva, which had the bases loaded. Drawant hustled back to the dugout, but the fence panel on North's home field sported a dent.
WHAT WE'LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD
Which team wins the annual "Battle of St. Charles." East – which, like North is a contender in what should be a tight Upstate Eight River race – hosts two of the three games in the set. In 2013, East earned a share of the conference by defeating North in extra innings in a game resumed weeks later after initially being suspended by weather.
COACH SLY SEZ ...
Marmion and Aurora Central Catholic continue their conference rivalry farewell tour May 8 when the Cadets host the Chargers. ACC will leave the SCC next season, but both teams meet this time with good seasons going.
It's a good bet players will remember the outcome and particulars either way, but here's to a tight one. This series deserves to go out in style.