Grayslake North grad excels at Belmont

Here’s news of a slugging shortstop in Music City …

Belmont University sophomore shortstop Nicole Hughes (Grayslake North High School) earned first-team all-conference honors in the Missouri Valley Conference. She led or tied for the Bruins lead in nine offensive categories, batting .346 with 10 doubles and 6 RBI, 31 runs scored, a .535 slugging percentage and a .971 OPS. In two seasons Hughes has started all 103 of Belmont’s games.

A usual subject here this softball season, University of Northern Iowa outfielder-catcher Alexis Pupillo (Crystal Lake South) earned her second MVC first-team honor. She hit .324 and led the league with 19 home runs and 54 RBI, tied for second and fourth-most in Panthers history, respectively. After two seasons Pupillo owns the program’s top slugging percentage, .811, and on-base percentage, .486.

In MVC baseball, University of Illinois-Chicago redshirt junior pitcher Reece Lawler (Warren) made first-team all-conference as a relief pitcher. Through games of May 21 the 6-foot-2 right-hander led the MVC and ranked third in NCAA Division I with 12 saves. In 26 appearances, all in relief, Lawler went 2-1 with 36 strikeouts in 32⅓ innings pitched.

Illinois State sophomore outfielder Daniel Pacella (Mundelein) was first-team MVC as well. We had the slugger in here before, in April after he hit the Redbirds’ first walk-off home run since 2010. A 2023 MVC honorable-mention pick, Pacella hit .330 with 11 home runs and 58 RBI and had two games with at least 5 RBI.

On a 2-run home run and his eighth of the season in a 7-3 loss to Spalding University in Lexington, Ky., Beloit College fifth-year infielder Matt O’Leary (Westmont) set the program record for hits with 224. O’Leary has never hit less than .338 at Beloit, and topped out at .420 in 2021. He’s the Midwest Conference all-time leader in runs scored with 187, and holds Buccaneers records for triples, walks and batting average, .375. This season O’Leary was second in batting average to sophomore outfielder Jack Alport (Buffalo Grove), who hit .347.

Indiana Tech graduate student Nate Langille (Lakes), an attack for the Warriors’ men’s lacrosse team, No. 6 in the final NAIA rankings, made first team in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference. It was Langille’s fourth straight season earning WHAC honors. This spring he scored 29 goals with 33 assists for 62 points while also picking up 33 ground balls and causing 5 turnovers.

Also in lacrosse, Lewis University junior forward Domenic Tarello (Libertyville) was a first-team pick in the Great Lakes Valley Conference, and was named its “specialist of the year” for his expertise on draws. He led the Flyers with 85 ground balls and won nearly 61% of his faceoffs, ranking 16th in NCAA Division II.

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