Benet, North Stars make state tourney debuts
Updated: June 8, 2011 8:16PM
With the Class 3A and 4A semifinals starting Friday morning, four teams that stood atop the Sun-Times rankings during the season — Sandburg, Elk Grove, Conant and Richards — have been ousted from the tournament.
In Class 4A, Benet and St. Charles North are making their state tournament debuts.
“It’s an interesting mix because you have two schools, Moline and New Trier, with a lot of great tradition and history, Moline (26-8-1) has won five state titles, and then you have us and St. Charles North, that don’t have that, but we have a lot of talent,” Benet coach Jerry Schilf said.
This season, despite finishing third in the East Suburban Catholic, the Redwings got hot at the right time behind star pitcher Allyson Staats (28-9), who has a 1.37 ERA.
Sophomore Maeve McGuire, a first team Sun-Times all-area outfielder, has smashed 26 doubles and been electric in the state tournament, going 8-for-10 in her last three games.
In addition to Staats and McGuire, Schilf is especially high on freshman third baseman Julianne Rurka and junior catcher Kendall Duffy.
St. Charles North (31-3) is the supposed upstart, but the North Stars feature the Sun-Times Player of the Year in Loyola-bound pitcher Amanda Ciran (23-1). Coach Tom Poulin’s stacked lineup has seven players who are set to play in college.
“We’re just looking at Friday,” Poulin said. “We have a ton of respect for New Trier. They’re hot right now and they have beaten some really quality teams. We’re just hoping the sectional (Schaumburg) we went through, having played two great teams in Leyden and Elk Grove, will prepare us for the state.”
The Trevians have recovered from a 2-6 start. Coach John Caldwell’s teams finished fourth in 2006 and 2008, respectively. Junior pitcher Brigit Ieuter has been tremendous in the state tournament.
In the 3A field, both local contenders, Glenbard South and Marengo, have past experience to draw on. Glenbard South coach Julie Fonda’s teams won consecutive state trophies in 2008 (third) and 2009 (fourth). The Raiders (28-5) are led by pitcher Jess Wilkes (20-3) and a talented offensive lineup keyed by junior first baseman Danielle Chitkowski and junior second baseman Brianna Meath.
The Raiders face a blazing-hot LaSalle-Peru team that defeated 3A favorite Oak Forest 1-0 on Monday. In the second semifinal, Marengo (31-9) and senior ace Chloe Montgomery (25-6) face Bethalto (30-5).