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Druley: High school programs brace for playing ball into summer

Published: Thursday, June 19, 2014 10:05 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, June 19, 2014 10:13 p.m. CDT

Faster than you could say “Phil Lawler,” the summer baseball season began with a handful of games last week.

While most teams remained in the suburbs, Kaneland traveled to – and won – a tournament in Toledo, Ohio.

“Guys are learning quick and young guys are making a little bit of a competition out of it and it’s nice to see these young guys stepping up,” Knights coach Brian Aversa said.

Yup, getting an early glimpse of 2015, or least the idea of one, remains the objective in summer ball, which is capped by the Phil Lawler Summer Classic tournament next month.

For Batavia, however, waiting a minute to get recharged took precedence before coach Matt Holm again divvied players into red and gold sides.

The Bulldogs were set to face St. Charles East in their summer opener June 9, just two days after the season-ending loss to South Elgin in the Class 4A Schaumburg Sectional final.

Sensing Batavia might need a reprieve, Saints coach Len Asquini called Holm and proposed rescheduling the date for later in the summer.

“It’s such a quick turnaround. I didn’t realize how emotional it was until a day settled in there, and then another day and you’re like, ‘Good God, you know,’ ” Holm said. “And you want to get right back out and go, but you’re exhausted, and I wasn’t organized for the summer, and the kids were emotionally drained, so we took that one day off and then got right back at it.”

Ultimately, responding quickly is one of baseball’s inherent challenges, whether teams play a 40-game high school season or 162 games in the major leagues.

“It’s crazy talking about this season ending and then I’m already starting summer ball with the new guys,” Marmion coach Dave Rakow said.

Rarin’ for Laren: One of Indiana’s more notable baseball alumni arrived at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark Thursday as Kyle Schwarber, the Cubs’ first-round draft pick earlier this month, started in left field for the Cougars in his Midwest League debut.

About a month ago, Hoosier-to-be Laren Eustace patrolled the park’s spacious center field amid slightly less hoopla when Batavia faced Kaneland in a senior night cancer fundraiser.

Eustace, a recent Batavia graduate, helped the Bulldogs to a program-record 32 victories and a 23-game winning streak as a senior, batting .419 with five home runs and 20 RBIs as the team’s speedy leadoff man.

“He’s going to be a true leadoff guy, a true guy that can go get ’em in center field,” Hoosiers coach Tracy Smith said. “We’re getting a very very quality player that enjoys and values the college experience.”

Spartan effort: A handful of Chronicle-area athletes earned postseason accolades after the recent Elgin Community College baseball season.

Freshman infielder Brian Sobieski (St. Charles East) led the way as an NJCAA second team All-American, first team all-conference and first team all-region honoree, batting .456 with eight home runs, 44 RBIs and a .558 on-base percentage.

Freshmen Sawyer Chambers (St. Charles North), Troy Dykhuis (East) and Blake Alexander (Burlington Central) were second-team all-conference, as well, with Chambers also garnering a second team all-region nod. He was 6-2 with a 2.25 ERA on the mound.

Kevin Druley is a sportswriter for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or kdruley@shawmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @kevindruley.

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