North Central College baseball players Matt Abraham (Naperville North), Michael Corrigan (St. Charles North) and Joe Turek (Lincoln-Way East) have been selected to the 2009 NCAA Division III All-Central Region Teams, as chosen by the American Baseball Coaches Association.
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Eye black smeared across his face, Alex Helms slammed his helmet to the ground. This time it was Naperville North flooding out of the dugout to celebrate a walk-off victory at home plate.
Again Naperville Central came back from a three-run deficit and pushed a key DuPage Valley Conference game beyond the seventh inning. But with the bases loaded in the eighth, North junior Paul Bloodgood delivered the clutch hit on Tuesday, bouncing a two-run single to left that secured a 5-4 win.
The day before North unraveled late, leading 3-0 heading into the seventh inning before ultimately losing 4-3 in the ninth.
"We have to keep a positive mindset. And that last inning when we came up, everyone's like, 'Ok, we need to get one run,'" Bloodgood said. "Coach was saying, 'Why get one? Get two, end it right here.'"
Once Helms beat the throw and slid in safely for the game-winning run, the Huskies (22-7, 15-5) could jump around, because they still might be able to play for a share of the DVC title.
With the loss, and Wheaton North's 11-1 victory over Wheaton Warrenville South, Central (20-12 14-6) was eliminated from the race with one conference game left to play.
Whether or not Thursday's series finale at North Central College has meaning depends on what happens Wednesday in Wheaton. WW South travels to Wheaton North (23-4, 16-4), which will be looking to clinch.
Derek Raridon had a big night Tuesday at the Oswego East Sectional, as the 6-foot-6-inch Neuqua Valley forward exploded for 25 points to key a 69-49 victory over Plainfield North. Raridon is a coach's son, but sometimes that's a euphemism for "not athletic." Make no mistake, Raridon can play - the senior was the Upstate Eight Conference player of the year.
For background on this basketball family, be sure to check out Matt Bailey's piece, which details the father-son/coach-player relationship between Todd and Mitch Raridon at North Central College.
"It gets emotional when you see your kid come in as a freshman, those four years go by so quick," Todd said. "I always told my (players) that, but until you experience it with your own son, you don't quite realize just how fast it is."
It will start all over again next season, when Derek goes to play for his father at North Central.
-Ben Johnson, a sophomore midfielder out of Naperville North, will transfer from Western Illinois to play soccer at Saint Xavier, the Chicago university announced Tuesday. The Woodridge native previously played at Missouri State.
-White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper will run pitching camps in Lisle, LaGrange, Barrington, Tinley Park and Schererville, Ind. The Lisle sessions will be Jan. 24-25 for high school athletes and players ages 7-13. For more on the Bulls Sox Academy events, click here.
-Naperville's Centerfield Sports Academy will be running a pitching camp through Feb. 6 for players ages 13-18. The 90-minute sessions will be held three times a week for four-consecutive weeks. For more information, click here.
-Unbeaten Wheaton College (13-0) remains No. 1 in the D3hoops.com national Top 25 poll. North Central College (10-3) received votes in the same poll.
-Notre Dame was selected No. 1 in this week's USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine men's college hockey poll.
Teddy Ruth, a Naperville local, and The Fighting Irish will be in the area Jan. 2-3 for a tournament at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates.
-North Central College track and field will host a clinic for coaches and athletes (age 12 and up) on Sunday, Dec. 14 at Merner Fieldhouse. For more information, call Mahesh Narayanan at 630-637-5525 or e-mail email@example.com.
-Strictly Shooting Co. will hold a basketball camp for boys and girls grades four through eight on Dec. 22-23 and Dec. 29-30 at Kennedy Junior High School in Naperville. For more information, call 630-355-0622 or visit strictlyshootinghoops.com.
-Prepvolleyball.com ranks Benet 16th, Naperville Central 43rd and Naperville North 70th in its Dec. 4 edition of the top 100 national rankings. All three teams finished its seasons last month. Phil Brozynski has an alumni update here.
Neuqua Valley forward Derek Raridon, a 6-foot-5-inch senior, has committed to play for his father Todd next season at North Central College. Raridon averaged 12 points and five rebounds last season for a Neuqua team that won its first sectional title in school history.
The Cardinals (1-1) finished 10-15 last season. A preseason poll of the league's head coaches picked them to finish sixth in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin in 2008-09.
When Trevor Stellman hit Cordario Collier for a 17-yard pass in the second quarter, it meant Thomas More College had successfully converted on third down for the fourth time in its first seven attempts.
The Saints were trailing, but only by three points. And they appeared ready to put up a good fight against North Central College, the nation's second-ranked team, in an NCAA D-III first-round playoff game Saturday at Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium.
But Stellman was intercepted on the next play by Derek Sulo and the Cardinals never looked back in their 44-23 win.
"We finally did get (their momentum) stopped eventually, but not before they got like four or five straight third down (conversions)," said NCC linebacker Matt Wenger, who made 12 tackles and had an interception. "It's really frustrating when you have a team third-and-10 and you give up 11 yards and you're still on the field. But we got it figured out."
When North Central College faces Thomas More College on Saturday afternoon, the teams may see some of themselves in each other.
Both teams point to strong running offenses and strong running defenses. Whichever team does both of those things better will likely come out the victors in their NCAA Division III first-round playoff game at Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium.
"Good football teams are able to run the football, and good teams are able to stop the run," Saints coach Jim Hilvert said. "Especially when it comes to the games in November and December, you've got to do both."