Baseball: SouthWest Suburban Conference primed to get wild
By Dennis Nelson For Sun-Times Media April 10, 2012 6:18PM
Lockport's Ron Sessler (sliding) and Joliet Catholic's Chris Tschida have been keys to their teams' surging offenses this season. | Larry Kane~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 12, 2012 8:12AM
SouthWest Suburban Conference begins play Wednesday, and if the nonconference portion of the schedule for the area teams proves any indication, it should be a wild season in the Blue and Red divisions.
Lockport (8-4) has won or shared the Blue championship each of the past two seasons and is 20-6 in league games over that span. The Porters are on a four-game win streak heading into Wednesday’s opener at Lincoln-Way East.
Derek Bangert is 7-for-14 with four RBI over his past four games. He’s been held hitless in just two games this season. Dan Sullivan, who is hitting .524, has five hits in his last nine at-bats during the streak. Over the past four games Ron Sessler also is 7-for-14, with six RBI.
Joliet West (2-5) hosts Sandburg (8-2-1), which has three division titles to its credit and has finished third or better since the league was formed in 2006.
Other opening games pit Lincoln-Way Central (10-3) at Homewood-Flossmoor (8-2), Bolingbrook (7-4) at Joliet Central (4-10) and Lincoln-Way West visiting Thornridge.
In SWSC crossovers earlier in the week, the Blue Division dominated, going 8-0.
On a roll, again
Joliet Catholic won its first three games of the season, lost three straight and now is riding a five-game win streak heading into a doubleheader Thursday vs. Divine Child of Dearborn, Mich. Divine Child is 0-2, but was ranked No. 4 in Division 2 in its state’s preseason rankings. The Falcons have five state titles to their credit, including the 2011 Division 2 championship a year ago.
During its five-game streak, Joliet Catholic is averaging better than 10 runs per game.
The main catalysts offensively have been Chris Tschida (.458) and Zach Melone (.444). Tschida is 5-for-7 with 10 runs over the previous five games. All but two of his hits have been to center and right field. Melone has at least one hit in all 11 games this year and has seven hits in his last 15 at-bats. All of his hits have been to left and center field. Both are right-handed hitters.
Part-time starter Ira Hughes is hitting .438 and has yet to strike out in 20 at-bats.
The Hilltoppers begin East Suburban Catholic Conference action Saturday at Notre Dame in Niles.
Resurgent Gardner-South Wilmington was 10-1, but last week found the going tough in the River Valley Conference.
After going 3-0 in league play, the Panthers lost two straight, to Grant Park and Illinois Lutheran. Gardner-South Wilmington had eight hits and six errors in an 11-4 loss to Illinois Lutheran (7-2, 4-0).
In its past two games, the Panthers have eight hits, are hitting .296 and have struck out nine times with just two walks.