Baseball: Burlington Central counting on Wallace's bat, leadership
Burlington Central senior Colton Wallace has taken an expanded leadership role in his third varsity season.
A returning all-area performer who helped the Rockets make Class 3A sectional final appearances the last two years, Wallace batted .449 as a junior (53-for-118) with 15 doubles and 33 RBI.
The 5-foot-9, 180-pound catcher is committed to Concordia-Chicago, the top-ranked baseball team in NCAA Division III.
His current focus is helping a team with eight seniors on the 26-man roster develop into a playoff threat come late May.
"We (graduated) a lot of guys from last year, but I think this team can be pretty tough," Wallace said after a loss at St. Charles North earlier this month.
Wallace is batting .295 for Central (8-7). His 13 hits include a double, 2 triples and 2 home runs. He hit one home run last year.
The right-handed batter is slugging .545 and is tied for the team lead with 13 RBI, but his intangible contributions are arguably as valuable.
"He's definitely our leader this year and he has taken on that role without us telling him to do that," Central coach Kyle Nelson said. "He sees that we're a young team only starting a couple of seniors right now, so he's really done a nice job with our younger guys, helping them out and making sure they learn the way of our program."
Opposing pitchers are wary of Central's slugger. They have walked him 10 times in 58 plate appearances. Thus, he reaches base 45 percent of the time.
"Offensively, he's never overmatched. He never gives up an at-bat," Nelson said. "He just takes quality at-bat after quality at-bat. Even if he gets fooled by something or he's late on a fastball, he moves on to the next pitch quickly.
"Defensively, he has a really strong arm, he blocks the ball and he's a leader on the field. He's been doing that since he's been coming to our camps since he was 10."
Cary-Grove ace stays hot: Quinn Priester pitched 3 innings in Cary-Grove's 11-2 victory over Dundee-Crown Thursday.
The 6-foot-3, 203-pound right-hander did not allow a baserunner and struck out four.
The outing continued a strong spring for Priester fresh off last week's 1-hitter at Crystal Lake South. He is 5-0 in 6 starts with a 0.98 ERA and .593 WHIP in 28⅔ innings. The fireballer has struck out 46 and walked six.
Priester is slated to pitch next Thursday in Cary against Crystal Lake Central.
Ripe Harvest: The Harvest Christian Academy baseball team won its ninth straight game Thursday with a 13-0 rout of Aquin.
The Lions have been scoring runs in bunches. The 10-run rule has been invoked in six wins of those wins and they've outscored the opposition 109-21 over the course of the streak.
The Class 1A playoffs begin May 13.
"Hopefully, we can stay healthy and get hot at the right time," coach Matt Ellett said Thursday.