Softball: Pappas providing leadership for young St. Charles North squad
St. Charles North has a special player in senior Anastasia Pappas -- and not only for her work in the circle.
With a young team this spring, the North Stars are leaning more on Pappas than ever. Not only did she handle the majority of the pitching in the team's first three games, her coach Tom Poulin said Pappas has been just as important teaching the newcomers the ropes of varsity softball.
"We're really happy with Anastasia," Poulin said. "She's an assistant coach for us. With two seniors, a couple juniors, and the rest sophomores and freshmen, Anastasia has been a third coach for us. And in the circle she's been really tough. We've used her a lot. We've leaned on Pappas a lot."
St. Charles North won its first two games of the season before losing to 2019 state champion Huntley 7-5 last week.
One of the youngsters Pappas is helping is sophomore leadoff hitter Leigh VandeHei, who had three hits against Huntley.
"She's going to be good," Poulin said. "I believe she'll join that group of the (Sabrina) Rabins and (Jordan) Wolfes and those people who get on the bases and cause headaches for opponents and put the ball in play and beat it out. She's just scratching the surface."
Unfortunately for Poulin, Pappas, VandeHei and the rest of the North Stars, they will have to wait for a bit before getting back on the diamond. The North Stars are sidelined because of COVID protocols, and they aren't alone.
Dundee-Crown also is out this week for the same reason. Rosary, with a 5-3 win over Aurora Central Catholic as part of its 3-3 start, is back after missing a week to COVID.
West Aurora update:
A young Blackhawks team is struggling a bit, according to coach Randy Hayslett, 3-7 in their first 10 games with wins over Metea Valley, Rosary and Plainfield East.
"Our pitching hasn't found its rhythm yet and a lot of inexperience now that we hope will pay off in the future," Hayslett said. "We have six freshmen, two sophomores, three juniors and three seniors this year."
Missing Riley Mont, a junior All-Area basketball player out with an ACL injury, is a big loss.
Some of the bright spots for the Blackhawks include junior Sara Archer, who plays shortstop, third base and pitches. She is hitting .471 with 3 HRs, 7 RBI and 11 runs. She went 5-for-5 against Plainfield East on Saturday with 2 HRs, 2 doubles and a single.
Junior center fielder Callie Meinel is hitting .438 with 2 homers, 8 RBI and 13 runs scored as the team's leadoff hitter. She has yet to strike out.
Sophomore Alyssa Perkins, who pitches, plays first base and bats cleanup, is hitting .382 with 4 HRs and 11 RBI.
Saturday's doubleheader loss to Lake Park served as a microcosm of the Hawks' season so far.
Abby Tomillo, Alexa Burzawa, Addie Kuth and Amanda Frieden all homered for Bartlett but it wasn't enough to prevent a sweep that dropped the Hawks to 4-7 on the season.
"A team like Lake Park with the pressure they put on you on bases, this is a possibility (with a young team)," Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith said. "We put all three phases together, we know we are as good as anybody in the area. Right now we get two of the three."
St. Charles East update:
Saints coach Jarod Gutesha might be the envy of many coaches. He's got as good of a pitcher around in senior Katie Arrambide, who led the Saints to the Class 4A state championship game in 2019 with her lights-out pitching.
She's back as a senior this year, but Gutesha is also working in two other talented hurlers, junior Izzy Howe and senior Madelyn Rouse.
"We play such a jam-packed schedule, we're not going to ride one pitcher," Gutesha said after opening DuKane Conference play last week with a loss to Lake Park. "We've been pitching by committee so far, been pitching a rotation. Our offense looks good. We'll be fine."
The Saints have won four straight since losing to the Lancers, now 11-3 overall.