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updated: 4/8/2014 10:42 PM

Kaneland, St. Charles North experience mixed results on spring trips

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  • St. Charles North's Joe Kuczek, pictured diving back into first base during a summer game against St. Charles East, was one of three North Stars to make the all-tournament team on their trip last week to Tennessee.

       St. Charles North's Joe Kuczek, pictured diving back into first base during a summer game against St. Charles East, was one of three North Stars to make the all-tournament team on their trip last week to Tennessee.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

 

Spring break is not what it used to be.

Kaneland baseball coach Brian Aversa and his team departed Maple Park last Wednesday and headed for Cincinnati in an attempt to better its chance and get some games played.

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"We were hoping for better weather," said Aversa.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans.

"We only got one game in because the Cincinnati area received about four inches of rain last week," said Aversa.

The one game the Knights did play nearly didn't materialize, either.

"Luckily, we were playing Cincinnati Moeller High School and they had some contacts so we could play on the turf field at the University of Cincinnati," said the coach.

"We wound up starting the game at 8:30 p.m."

Led by Joe Panico, Curtis Thorson, Joe Laudont and Anthony Holubecki, Kaneland grabbed an early 4-1 after 3 innings.

That may not sound like a big deal to some but consider this -- Moeller's baseball team is currently ranked fifth nationally and has a long tradition as a national power.

The home team staged a 5-run rally in the fourth inning during Moeller's 8-4 victory over Kaneland last Friday.

Upon their arrival in southwestern Ohio, the Knights attended last Wednesday's Major League game between National League Central Division rivals St. Louis and Cincinnati.

Guess what happened?

Yep, more rain.

"Due to a long rain delay, the game didn't start until 9:50 p.m.," said Aversa. "I don't think we got back to our hotel until about 1:50 a.m. It was a long game."

After hearing the weather forecast, Aversa did all he could to find additional games for his team to no avail.

"I probably contacted 35 schools during the first two days of the trip," said Aversa.

At one point, it appeared that Aversa had been successful in his rescheduling attempt.

"We had scheduled two games against schools farther south until their athletic directors stepped in and said, 'no,'" added the Knights' coach.

Despite the fact that most of the game action was washed out, Aversa still felt the trip had its bright spots.

"It was a great trip for team bonding," said Aversa, who was making his seventh spring trip as Kaneland head coach. "We rented an indoor facility one day so we could practice. We schedule this trip so it gives the players a little break in their routine. We don't want to face teams we'll see later on in the season. This time, we were supposed to play Elder (Ohio) and Dixie Heights (Kentucky). I made great connections with coaches from Kentucky and Ohio."

Kaneland has made previous spring trips to St. Louis, Owensboro (Ky.), Cincinnati, Marion (Ill.), and Peoria and summer stops in Toledo and Louisville.

"We're looking for the best possible competition," said Aversa, whose players raise money to cover the costs. "Each player is expected to sell 25 cards in order to have the whole trip ($285) paid off. It is prorated so that if a player sells 20 cards, three-quarters of their trip is paid. If they sell 15 cards, it covers half the trip.

"We expect the kids to work hard on fundraising for the trip."

St. Charles North's baseball team experienced better luck from Mother Nature during last week's trip to Tennessee.

The North Stars won 5 of 6 games while placing second at the Aaron Schuch Memorial Tournament held in Dyersburg, Tenn., located 77 miles northeast of Memphis -- an 8-hour drive from St. Charles.

"We had 70-80 degree temperatures for three of the five days and it was in the low 60s the other two days," said North Stars coach Todd Genke.

One of the tourney highlights was provided by junior Cory Wright, whose 2-run double capped a 3-run, 7th-inning rally as the North Stars edged Tipton-Rosemark (Tenn.) 4-3.

The North Stars also scored a 10-0, 5-inning rout of Mayfield (Ky.) behind a 3-RBI performance from Nick Drawant and added a 9-0 whitewash of Senath (Mo.) as Joe Kuczek and Drawant had 2 hits apiece and Sam Hubbe tossed 2-hit ball with 7 strikeouts in 4 innings.

Hubbe, Kuczek and Wright were named to the all-tournament team.

The trip to Tennessee was a change of pace for St. Charles North, which has ventured to downstate Marion in recent seasons.

"The main reason for the change in location was due to how late our spring break was this year," said Genke. "Most of the Illinois schools we normally play down in Marion were on break the previous week. As a result, I did some research and found the tournament in Dyersburg."

The tournament's rich history also caught Genke's attention.

"What really enticed me was the fact that it's a 24-year-old tournament and featured some of the best teams from Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri," said the coach. "I thought it would be neat to play against teams from different states. Dyersburg also had lights which would be a cool experience for our players that normally don't get that opportunity."

According to Genke, funding for the trip (includes bus transportation, hotel and 1 team meal per day) is handled through the St. Charles North Ways and Means committee, SCN Central Boosters and the SCN Athletic Department.

"The kids only pay for one meal per day and for any incidentals they may acquire," said Genke, who expects the traditional spring break trip to continue in 2015 ... and beyond.

"This was our seventh annual spring break baseball trip since I've been head coach," he said. "It has become a tradition that our kids, coaches and parents look forward to.

"The trip takes a lot of organization and needs support from the administration but its benefits far outweigh any negatives."

You can reach Craig Brueske at csb4k@hotmail.com

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