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Naperville Central senior outfielder Matt Cmiel has made a verbal commitment to the University of Illinois at Springfield, which will officially begin play during the 2010-11 academic year as a Division II program and member of the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

An all-DuPage Valley Conference selection as a junior, Cmiel helped lead the Redhawks to a sectional title. He hit .434 with a .529 on-base percentage, stealing 29 bases and scoring 42 runs.

"Coach Brian Grunzke has made it clear he is building a winning team from the ground up and I want to be part of it," Cmiel wrote in an e-mail. "UIS received D2 status and approval to build a baseball team in August. I'm excited about the opportunity to play baseball for four years and to academically major in education. It will be great to be part of a new college program."

UPDATE: Conlon, a kicker at St. Rita, is not out for football, according to Central coach Mike Stine.

Naperville Central, which will return the majority of its everyday lineup from a team that won a sectional title last season, is welcoming another Division I baseball athlete into its program.

Redhawks coach Bill Seiple confirmed that left-handed pitcher/first baseman Shane Conlon - who has verbally committed to Kansas State - is transferring from St. Rita to Central.

"Shane enrolled (here) last week," Seiple wrote in an e-mail. "I'm hoping he chooses to play baseball. I anticipate that he will be eligible to play."

Conlon helped lead St. Rita to a state finals appearance last season and a championship in the summer state series. The lefty went 9-1 as a junior, and Central's expectations just jumped that much higher. For more background information on Conlon, check out Prep Baseball Report news from Sean Duncan and Drake Skleba. PBR first broke the story.

After weighing all his options, Naperville Central senior Nick Linne has committed to play baseball at Northwestern.

The three-sport athlete will focus on baseball instead of actively searching for more football opportunities. The Redhawks quarterback threw for 1,711 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior, later drawing an offer from Illinois State.

Linne, a versatile infielder/outfielder, said that Central baseball coach Bill Seiple and his Illinois Sparks travel team coaches did too much selling to Northwestern on his behalf to reconsider the decision.

"It's just a verbal right now, but I'm not gonna change my mind. It's not gonna happen," Linne said Thursday after football practice. "I'm really excited to get up there next year."

According to Prep Baseball Report, Naperville North pitcher Kyle Klosak has committed to Oakton Community College. PBR ranks the right-hander as the state's 26th-best prospect in the class of 2010. Klosak appeared in 15 games, primarily as a reliever, for the Huskies last season, going 3-3 with a 5.71 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 30-plus innings.

Naperville North senior outfielder Charlie White has committed to Maryland. White hit .479 with five home runs, 39 RBI, 36 runs scored and 14 stolen bases as a junior. On the mound, the lefty finished 5-2 with a 2.72 ERA, two complete games and two saves, becoming perhaps the most reliable arm on a staff that already had two pitchers committed to Division I programs. White projects as an outfielder for the Terrapins, who went 27-27 last season.

The list comes to you courtesy of Prep Baseball Report's Drake Skleba:

1B Pat Korienek, Downers Grove South
2B Dan Walsh, Downers Grove South
SS Vince Kmiec, Sandburg
3B Stefano Belmonte, St. Rita
C Eric Josupait, Waubonsie Valley
DH Harry Vickers, Waubonsie Valley
OF Kris Singh, Waubonsie Valley

OF Brett Huff, Sandburg
OF Anthony Andres, St.Rita
P Matt Wivinis, Downers Grove South
P Shane Conlon, St. Rita

2009 Jack Kaiser Most Valuable Player Award
Mark Payton, St. Rita

That's the new name for the summer state tournament organized by the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association. Phil Lawler is the long-time Naperville Central assistant who helped found the tournament. Before the championship game on July 30 at Benedictine, Lawler will be honored and one team will receive the Phil Lawler Summer State Championship Trophy.

Waubonsie Valley and Neuqua Valley have earned top seeds in the upcoming Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association summer state tournament. For the full brackets, click here and follow the "IHSBCA SUMMER 09" link.

In a move that he described as coming out of the blue, Scott Hairston was traded from San Diego to Oakland on Sunday for two minor league pitchers and a player to be named later.

The outfielder had finally developed into an everyday player with the Padres, and that's when they decided to deal him and replenish their farm system with right-handers Ryan Webb and Craig Italiano. Hairston entered Monday hitting .299 with 10 home runs in 56 games, and the move leaves slugger Adrian Gonzalez without his wingman, as Bill Center explains in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Michael Bowden is working on a slider that he hopes will make him a permanent big-league pitcher. The No. 2 prospect in the Red Sox organization has an ERA of 6.42 since May 23, according to this Providence Journal feature by Daniel Barbarisi, but that's part of a learning curve.

The 6-foot-3-inch right-hander out of Waubonsie Valley is trying to develop an extra pitch that will make hitters swing and miss. Bowden's numbers are still good - opponents are hitting only .226 against him at Triple-A, and he has a 3.39 ERA overall - but he could use a slider to throw in a two-strike count.

"I think it's going to define him. I really do," Pawtucket pitching coach Rich Sauveur told the newspaper. "I honestly think that pitch is going to define him, to help him get back to where he wants to be."

We're late posting this, but here's an interesting look at the Hairston family from reporter Mark Sheldon. Jerry Hairston Jr. reflects on hanging out at the old Comiskey Park while his father played for the White Sox:

"Back then, it was great, but now as I'm older, I realize I got a chance to be around Carlton Fisk, Harold Baines, Greg Luzinski and all those great players," Hairston Jr. said. "There was camaraderie they had on that team -- the older players with kids, too. Casey Fisk, Ryan Luzinski, my brothers and Doug Rader's kids, we always went out and played.

"My father didn't want us running around wild in the clubhouse. He stressed that the clubhouse was a sacred area. Just make sure you respect everybody. He said, 'I'm your father but you have 24 other guys here that have to get ready to play.' I understood at a young age that those guys were there to do a job."

UPDATE: Cincinnati Enquirer reporter John Erardi has more on the Civil Rights Game and its connection to generations of Hairstons.



Brad Engel

Brad Engel is the longest-tenured member of The Sun sports staff and has won several national and state awards in his coverage of preps as well as the Chicago Bears, Chicago Fire and general sports.

Patrick Mooney

Patrick Mooney covered politics, prep sports and professional baseball for several print and online media outlets before joining The Sun in August 2007. He concentrates on prep sports, writing features, profiles and breaking recruiting news.

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