Some midseason lineup shuffling seems to be serving St. Charles North well.
The North Stars' batting order looks substantially different than it did early in the season, and not only because slugging catcher Emily Brodner is no longer with the team.
North coach Tom Poulin did some tinkering – including moving Mickey Goetz from the No. 3 slot to No. 2 and Kaitlyn Waslawski from No. 2 to No. 6 – in hopes of sparking the North Stars' offense.
He's mostly been satisfied with the results.
"We had to do something," Poulin said. "I wouldn't be doing my job if I just left it the same and we continued on the path that we were on because we were on a path to be .500. And it might not have anything to do with the lineup, but since that day we've been more productive as far as scoring runs."
Among the few lineup elements that have remained steady – Northwestern recruit Sabrina Rabin is still batting leadoff and Northern Illinois recruit Abby Howlett is holding down the cleanup spot.
Howlett's bid for a grand slam was down-sized to a single in Friday's win against visiting Batavia when her drive to left field smacked off the wall. Her hit turned into a long single, scoring two.
"This place, [the wind] is never blowing out," Poulin said. "If the wind wasn't knocking it down, she'd have herself a grand slam. I was hoping. I was trying to help it."
Poulin would like to see his hitters rewarded by mother nature the way many other teams in the area are.
"It seems like very time you go to the other side of town [at St. Charles East], it's blowing to dead center," Poulin said. "It's always blowing out for [baseball at North], but very rarely for us."
Fundraiser on tap
St. Charles North's home game against Geneva on Wednesday will include a fundraising component to fight breast cancer. The event is named "Knock Cancer Out of the Park."
All levels of both programs will participate, with the freshman and JV games to take place at Geneva. T-shirts are being sold for $10 as part of the fundraiser.
The North Stars and Vikings are due to play each other twice this week as North travels to Geneva on Friday. The games were originally scheduled to be played at opposite sites but were switched to accommodate the fundraiser.
Spartans keeping busy
St. Francis is slated to play five straight days this week – Monday through Friday – including a marquee Suburban Christian Conference matchup on Thursday against Montini.
"The games are backing up a little bit here now because of the [weather postponements earlier in the season]," St. Francis coach Ralph Remus said. "We'll find out ... how consistent we are and if we can keep playing at a high level."
– Jay Schwab, email@example.com
IN THE GROOVE
Sabrina Rabin, St. Charles North, Sr., P/OF
What she did: Rabin saved two of her top pitching outings for Tri-Cities opponents last week, limiting St. Charles East to three hits in a 5-1 win and shutting out Batavia, 6-0, on a two-hitter.
Natalie Offutt, Batavia, Jr., IF
What she did: Offutt enjoyed a memorable afternoon last Tuesday against Larkin, driving in six runs while going 3 for 4 with a home run in Batavia's 13-1 victory over the Royals.
WHAT WE LEARNED FROM LAST WEEK
Rosary is showing signs of late-season improvement.
After a poor start to the season, the Royals appear to be gaining steam, underscored by an 8-2 win against rival Aurora Central Catholic on Wednesday.
WHAT WE'LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD
How viable Geneva's Upstate Eight Conference River hopes are.
The Vikings have been a surprise team in the area this season and are in the mix in the UEC River race but have yet to play St. Charles East or St. Charles North. All four of those matchups are scheduled to take place between today and May 13.
COACH SLY SAYS
Sly loves softball, slow pitch or fast pitch, but here's one beef with the fast-pitch, high school game: how easy it is for runners to take second base when it's a first-and-third scenario.
Runners often stroll to second base in no particular hurry, daring the catcher to throw down so that the runner on third can break for home.
There are multiple options for how teams can contest a steal attempt in that situation, and many factors (the runner's speed, the catcher's arm, the score in the game) to take into account. But it seems like waving the white flag in conceding second base is the norm. Sly'd like to see some teams say "Not so fast" and challenge their defenses to cut down runners' sense of entitlement.