Softball: Lincoln-Way Central plays through emotional painPlainfield South's #15 Lina Medo 2nd baseman fields the ground ball from her knees for the out at 1st base vs Bolingbrook held at home and South lost 1-0 on Friday, March 23, 2012. | Larry Kane~For Sun-Times Media
In the midst of grieving, Lincoln-Way Central came together.
The sudden death of Central senior Tom Schuman on March 31 stunned the Knights community. Schuman was more than just a star baseball player and golfer for the Knights, he was a popular, well-respected student.
When the Knights softball team got the news of Schuman’s death, it was on its way to play at the Jacobs quadrangular in Algonquin.
“The seniors and I met and decided to stay and play and ended up winning the whole thing,” Central softball coach Steve Paulsen said.
Central defeated Hoffman Estates 13-0 and Jacobs 11-1, both in five innings.
The most emotional game was to come, on April 2, when the Knights hosted Marist.
“Monday was tough, though, because now they were all at school with all the emotions,” said Paulsen, who was Central’s baseball coach from 1999 to 2004. “They asked me if we could have a moment of silence prior to the game and if they could all wear blue ribbons in his honor, so we did.”
The emotions didn’t stop there.
“Following the national anthem, they all met around the pitcher’s mound for a private moment,” Paulsen said. “Once that was done, they seemed more focused than when the night started. They were supportive of each other and really upbeat. Occasionally, one would point to the sky after a big hit or play.”
With the game tied and one out in the bottom of the seventh, Central’s Taylor Schroeder (4-for-4, HR) was on third. Kayla Pope hit a deep sacrifice fly to left, scoring Schroeder for a 6-5 victory as the Knights improved to 5-2.
“They never got down at any time, and when all was done, a few of them hugged each other and then some tears started to fall again,” Paulsen said. “It was an emotional day, and the girls showed heart and perseverance.
“As I told them, next to my own daughter, they are the most important girls in my life. I was so very proud of each and every one of them.”
The No. 1 jinx
Is there a Herald-News No. 1 ranking softball jinx?
Preseason No. 1 Lockport lost its opening game to Plainfield South. Lincoln-Way East then took over as No. 1 and promptly lost to Minooka.
Last week, Plainfield Central was undefeated and No. 1 when the rankings were turned in, but lost to Waubonsie Valley later that day. This week, Plainfield South moves into the top spot.
A Dyer homecoming
When Stagg played Thursday at Lockport, there was a familiar face in the Stagg dugout. That was Erin Dyer, who was an All-State catcher that helped Lockport to the 2004 Class AA state championship.
Dyer, who went on to have a stellar college career at Northwestern, is in her first season as Chargers assistant.
“I did a little coaching at Oak Prairie Junior High, but this is my first time coaching high school and it’s been fun to get the experience,” Dyer said. “It’s been phenomenal to work with (Stagg) coach (Missy) Mason and (assistant) coach (Sarah) Bryers. I’ve learned a lot from them.”
Over the summer Dyer will move to Wisconsin and will be getting married next year.