Thornton coach Nick Tarala is confident his team can live up to the adage, “it’s not how you start, but how you finish.”

The Wildcats suffered some injuries to key personnel that have them sitting below their own expectations at 10-14.

Now that they’re regaining their health — catcher T.J. Frazier and pitcher D.J. Fuller recently returned — Tarala hopes his team can end the season with a flourish.

“We finished 15-18 last year and we were kind of hoping to reverse that this year,” Tarala said. “We’re starting to get into a little groove.”

The one constant this season has been the Wildcats’ aggressive baserunning. Through 24 games they’ve swiped 99 bases.

Seniors Jason and Jamal Towns not only are twin brothers, they have the identical number of stolen bases with 20. Junior Ronnie Cross has swiped 17 bases and senior Antaun McHerron has 10.

“The strength of this group is its ability to hit-and-run,” said Tarala, in his second stint as coach. “We also like to take the extra base on teams. Our athleticism in the field has prevented teams from taking the extra base on us.”

Jamal Towns leads the Wildcats in hitting with a .433 average, followed by McHerron (.410), Cross (.400) and Jason Towns (.379).

McHerron would like to play college ball, but has yet to latch on to a program. Tarala is certain McHerron will be an asset wherever he ends up playing.

“Whoever takes him on is going to get a very good player,” said Tarala, a 1996 Thornridge graduate. “He’s real smooth in the infield and he’s a lead-by-example type of player. He’ll make a college coach very happy.”

With seven games remaining in the regular season, including two SouthWest Suburban Red games vs. Lincoln-Way West, Tarala knows what he’d like to see from his club.

“We’re capable of winning four of those seven games,” he said. “That would give us some momentum going into the playoffs. This group of kids has played together since Little League. Some of them have hooked on with travel teams. They’ve been a fun group to coach.”