Softball: Palatine's Huff follows winning tradition with commitment to Northwestern

Updated 10/30/2017 4:51 PM
  • Grace Huff

    Grace Huff

By making a verbal commitment to Northwestern's softball team, Palatine's Grace Huff is following in her coach's footsteps.

It was 12 years ago when Pirates softball Nicole Pauly chose to play for Wildcats coaches Kate and Caryl Drohan's program in Evanston.

"As a NU softball alum, I can confidently say that coaches Kate and Caryl Drohan developed my softball skills so that I could be the best player that I could be," said Pauly, who like Huff, also starred at Palatine before playing for Northwestern and the Akron Racers in the Women's Professional Softball League. "But more importantly, they instilled in me personal qualities that taught me how to be the best overall person for my future."

Huff, one of the top hitters in the Mid-Suburban League, is already looking forward to playing for the twin sisters.

"Coach Kate and coach Caryl aren't just great coaches, but great people," said Huff, who batted .500 with a team-high 36 runs and 13 stolen bases last spring. "I love the atmosphere of their Northwestern softball program."

Playing at the Division I level was always a dream for Huff, who plans to study biomedical engineering because she wants create prosthetics for athletes so that they can play the sports they love.

"I knew I wanted to play in college since I was a little girl," she said. "And I can't believe in a few years it'll be my reality."

Huff credits her father with always being a huge supporter of her career.

"He's the reason I got into it, and I haven't stopped since," she said. "I had a great travel ball coach for many years, Jennifer Dick, who constantly helped me and pushed me past my limits. And my high school coach (Pauly) has inspired me so much to work my hardest at the game."

Pauly calls Huff a dream player and the best teammate one could have.

"Grace's hard work and dedication to the game of softball has given her the opportunity to be a student-athlete at one of the best colleges in the country," Pauly said. "As a player, opponents and fans know who Grace Huff is -- she plays with passion and is one of the best overall softball athletes in the area.

"She is definitely our spark plug, and also a leader on our team. She is constantly working hard to get better in every aspect of her game. I am excited to see what she accomplishes at Northwestern."

"I am so thankful for the opportunity to play at Northwestern," Huff added. "I'm looking forward to Kate and Caryl teaching me even more about the game, and that I'll get to experience it with new teammates and a new family."

And, of course, she is excited for this spring, her final prep season with Pauly.

"I'm super excited for the next high school season," she said. "We did really well last year and we can only go up from there."

Women's soccer

DePaul senior midfielder Alexa Ben (Schaumburg) was named offensive player of the week in The Big East for the second time this season.

Ben recorded her first hat trick of the season against Villanova, scoring 3 goals in DePaul's 6-3 win. On a free kick from 40 yards out, senior Elizabeth Endy connected with Ben, who headed DePaul's second goal of the match into the upper right-hand corner for the 2-0 lead. Ben's strike was her fifth of the season and 25th of her career.

In the 70th minute, a Villanova yellow card awarded in the box set up a penalty kick for Ben who tapped in her second goal of the match, collecting her sixth of the season.

Ben completed the hat trick in the 80th minute.

She has made 43 shots on the season, collecting 7 goals and an assist for 15 points.

To date, Ben has 27 career goals in a Blue Demon uniform, placing her fourth all-time in DePaul women's soccer history.

Women's swimming

University of Findlay freshman Sarah Miles placed first in the 200-yard backstroke for the second week in a row. Miles turned in a time of 2:08.04 in Findlay's home meet against Saginaw Valley State University.

That topped her time of 2:08.62, which she swam the previous week during a meet at the University of Indianapolis.

Miles, who attended Hoffman Estates High School and swam for the Palatine Park District, contributed to a 163-137 victory for the Findlay women over Saginaw Valley State. She finished third in the 100-yard backstroke in 1:00.44. She also swam on the 400 freestyle relay, going 56.04 seconds for her 100-yard leg.

Hapanionek to Hall

Joseph Hapanionek, who resides in Hoffman Estates, was honored as a former University of Dubuque student-athlete enshrined in the school's Athletic Hall of Fame on Oct. 7. in Heritage Center.

He was recognized with four other hall of famers and one team during halftime of the football game against Buena Vista University.

Hapanionek studied sociology and criminal justice at Dubuque and played baseball during the 2004 and 2005 seasons. He was the 2005 NCAA Division III National Champion in home runs (43) and slugging percentage (.888).

Hapanionek earned third team ABCA and NCBWA all-American honors in 2005.

He was twice named an Honorable Mention National Player of the Week during the 2005 season. Hapanionek is the school record holder in career home runs (23), career slugging percentage (. 771), career saves (8), single season home runs (16; 2005), single season runs batted in (53; 2005), single season total bases (111; 2005), single season slugging percentage (. 888; 2005), and single season saves (5; 2005).

Hapanionek went on to sign a professional contract to play baseball with the Sioux Falls Canaries.

He was the only Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference student-athlete to sign a contract in 2005. Hapanionek married his wife Rosella, in 2009, and the they have four sons, Joey, Jacob, Jayce, and Jonathan.

When he isn't playing baseball, Hapanionek works as director of health care for multiple hospitals and coaches baseball.

Women's volleyball

Concordia-Chicago's Julia Spitelli (Schaumburg) put down 11 kills as the Cougars (18-10) posted a dramatic 25-19, 25-17, 30-32, 22-25, 16-14 victory over Wisconsin Lutheran.

Men's cross country

North Central College sophomore Zach Michael's (Palatine) season-best race placed him seventh in the Benedictine University Eagle Invitational with a time of 26:29.7 and helped the Cardinals place first at the meet.

• North Central College freshman Alex Makrounis (Hoffman Estates) recorded his season-best race when he placed fourth in the Benedictine University Eagle Invitational with a time of 26:22.4 and helped the Cardinals place first at the meet.

• North Central College junior Michael Anderson (Prospect) posted a season-best sixth-place finish in the Benedictine University Eagle Invitational.


The Arlington Stallions high school varsity side ended a successful fall season with a 45-7 win over the Chicago-based Wapiti Rugby Club.

Multiple tries were scored by Prospect seniors Ryan Vedner and Brandon Onori.

The Stallions finished their season with a 5-1 record which included an impressive 40-15 win over 2017 Illinois Tier One Championship Runner-Up Notre Dame DeLasallette.

"This was a great lead-in to the competitive season this spring," said coach Paul Bergman. "Our plan for the fall is always to focus on establishing a strong fitness and fundamental skills platform on which to build into the spring. Our boys certainly have seen the fruits of that labor the last few weeks."

Hersey feeder

The Hersey Girls Feeder basketball tryouts will be this Sunday and Nov. 5 at Hersey High School. All girls from fifth through eighth grade who live in the Hersey attendance area are invited to try out.

The times: 4 p.m. for eighth graders, 5 p.m. for seventh, 6 p.m. for sixth and 7 p.m. for fifth. Arrive 15 minutes early to register and bring your own basketball. Questions:

• Email Sports Notes items to

Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.