ST. CHARLES – For the second time in program history, the St. Charles North baseball team was able to screw in a supersectional plaque onto its home press box.
In 2016, the program placed third.
It wants to do even better this weekend.
"Our coaches talk about [the 2016 state team] all the time and what they did. That was the goal all year: Just be like them," said North Stars sophomore shortstop Nick DeMarco, a Notre Dame recruit. "Hopefully, we can go farther than what they did."
The first test is St. Rita, in the semifinal at 3 p.m. Friday. In 2014, the Mustangs took second, its best finish since 2009 and 2010 where they placed second in consecutive seasons.
"I think everyone [on the outside] is surprised how far we made it," DeMarco said. "Everyone besides our team and coaches...I don't think anyone on the team is too surprised. I think our team has a lot of confidence."
DeMarco and the North Stars will be tested by St. Rita, but will hope to keep it simple by getting runners in scoring position and capitalizing with its power up and down the lineup.
"I think the big thing is playing our game," DeMarco said. "If we play our game, I think we'll have a good chance at winning."
Kyler Brown knows St. Rita "has a lot of talent."
"The coaches talked about they have I think five Division I commits," Brown said.
The goal, however, has been to take each game one game at a time.
"Really, it was [approaching the season by] 1-0 from here on out," Brown said. "Our coaching staff has a lot of confidence [in the team]; I personally have a ton of confidence in everyone...It's just a great group of guys. I love being a part of it."
Brown has been a positive force at first base in the postseason, a position he transitioned over from third with regularity beginning against Lake Park in the sectional semifinal.
Kevin White, meanwhile, has handled the hot corner with ease.
"I've been playing infield all my life," Brown said. "There's not really a spot I'm going to be uncomfortable at. When [the coaches] put me at first, it really wasn't much different."
State Semifinal Game information
St. Charles North (28-10) vs. St. Rita (34-6)
Where: Route 66 Stadium in Joliet, IL
Game time: 3 p.m.
Follow @JakeBartelson on Twitter for game updates. Our story will be posted on @KaneCountyPreps.
Players to watch
St. Rita boasts a lot of talent, but none perhaps more eye-popping than shortstop Jalen Greer.
Greer, a senior, was recently drafted in the fifth round of the 2019 MLB Amateur Draft by the Oakland Athletics. The 164th overall selection is committed to the University of Missouri, but it remains to be seen of what Greer may decide to do for his career moving forward.
The North Stars middle infield combo of Egon Hein and Nick DeMarco could be one of the strongest offensively in the state. Hein has a team-high .429 batting average, while smacking 29 RBI and a .589 on base percentage. DeMarco, the Notre Dame commit, has five home runs and 36 RBI.
For the North Stars, it has to be left-handed relief pitcher, Johnny Lambert. Lambert has turned in an outstanding postseason, tossing 26 strikeouts in 16.2 innings pitched. Surrendering just five hits, Lambert has allowed one earned run and walked five.
Given the way coach Todd Genke has managed his pitching staff in the postseason, it's likely Zach Kampe will start, paving the way for Lambert for a solid stretch. John Hamer pitched the final outs of the supersectional against Plainfield Central, but DeMarco could be called upon for a multi-inning relief appearance as well.