Latest news from The Southtown Star Online en-us Wed, 28 Jul 2010 14:10:16 PDT Southtown Star logo 84 34 30 Copyright 2014 <![CDATA[ Disabato: Chicago Christian baseball proves it belongs with the big boys ]]> Lead story image

In spite of winning at least 23 games the past six seasons and topping 30 wins twice, Chicago Christian isn’t considered by most an elite baseball program. Why? Because in many instances, our minds are programed to think bigger is always better. Chicago Christian has approximately 360 students, 180 of whom are boys. Comparatively, Sandburg has nearly 10 times that amount. Other coed private schools, such as Providence and Marist, exceed that number by four or five times. Even all-boys private schools Brother Rice, Mount Carmel, St. Laurence and St. Rita dwarf Chicago Christian in regard to enrollment. The larger … ]]> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 02:14:19 -0500 <![CDATA[ Disabato: It’s full-throttle Mustangs ]]> Lead story image

St. Rita football coach Todd Kuska is extremely optimistic about the upcoming season. In fact, when asked for an honest assessment of his team, he didn’t mince words. “I’m really, really excited,” Kuska said. “I think we’re going to be pretty good.” “Pretty good” is coachspeak for “watch out.” Let’s be clear: The Mustangs, under Kuska’s guidance, generally have been very good. With the exception of 2012, St. Rita has qualified for the postseason in 13 of the past 14 seasons. Of course, the high-water mark came in 2006, when the Mustangs won the Class 7A state championship. The common … ]]> Sun, 13 Jul 2014 02:15:56 -0500 <![CDATA[ Disabato: Important season ahead for St. Laurence football ]]> Lead story image

St. Laurence came within one victory of qualifying for the playoffs in 2013. A win in Week 9 against Fenwick would have qualified the Vikings for their first postseason since 2009. It didn’t happen. The Vikings lost 28-14 to the Friars and finished with a 4-5 record. Entering his third season at St. Laurence, coach Harold Blackmon is confident the Vikings will return to the postseason in ’14. There’s a reason, beyond blind hope, for his optimism. He likes what he sees from his players, whom he said have exhibited tremendous effort and dedication during offseason workouts. “I’m really pleased … ]]> Thu, 10 Jul 2014 02:15:23 -0500 <![CDATA[ Disabato: Ron Czarnecki grateful for second chance to run Oak Forest’s baseball program ]]> Lead story image

When Oak Forest suspended varsity baseball coach Ron Czarnecki for one season in 2009, he saw the writing on the wall. He never reapplied for the position once he served his penance for violating a District 228 rule by allegedly using smokeless tobacco on school grounds. Of course Czarnecki had hoped, even prayed, to one day get another chance to lead the storied Bengals varsity program. That day came Tuesday. Czarnecki was named Bengals coach, succeeding Thad Gatton, who resigned upon completion of the 2014 season. Who says dreams can’t come true? That prayers aren’t answered? “No I didn’t think … ]]> Sun, 06 Jul 2014 02:17:16 -0500 <![CDATA[ Disabato: John Ely finding that familiar pitching form in Boston Red Sox organization ]]> Lead story image

In 2012, John Ely was coming off the best season of his professional baseball career. He was named the Los Angeles Dodgers Minor League Player of the Year and the Triple-A Pacific Coast League’s Pitcher of Year, going 14-7 with a 3.20 ERA and 165 strikeouts in 1682/3 innings. He appeared primed for a breakout season in the big leagues in 2013, whether it was on the Dodgers’ major league roster or another team. As it turned out, it was going to be with another team. The Houston Astros, in the midst of a serious rebuilding effort, acquired Ely via … ]]> Thu, 03 Jul 2014 02:15:37 -0500 <![CDATA[ Disabato: Homewood-Flossmoor unveils state-of-the-art multipurpose athletic facility ]]> Lead story image

There have been various high school expansion plans through the years that looked good, but failed to deliver on their promises, specifically to enhance the experience of student-athletes. Topping the list is when District 230, home to Stagg, Sandburg and Andrew high schools, embarked on an ambitious $118 million expansion project approximately 14 years ago. If you’ll recall, the initial proposal included the addition of much-needed fieldhouses to accommodate all three growing athletic programs. While the expansion occurred, the fieldhouses never saw the light of day. Instead, more vital and practical necessities such as tear-shaped desks and talking garbage cans … ]]> Wed, 02 Jul 2014 02:15:13 -0500 <![CDATA[ Disabato: Jevon Mamon prepared for task as Richards boys basketball coach ]]> Lead story image

Ken Styler watched Jevon Mamon coach Perspectives Calumet boys basketball team the past few years at the District 218 Tip-off Classic. Styler, the longtime Richards athletic director, came away impressed. His reverence, however, had little do with wins and losses. “It was his sideline demeanor and how his kids played the game that impressed me most,” Styler said. “Obviously, he knows the game and he’s been successful. But his kids played hard and they were disciplined.” When Richards coach John Chappetto abruptly resigned after the 2013-14 season, Styler was hoping Mamon would apply for the gig. He did — along … ]]> Sun, 29 Jun 2014 02:14:37 -0500 <![CDATA[ Disabato: Big finish completes memorable Southland 2014 baseball season ]]> Lead story image

With the 2014 All-Area Baseball Team, along with player and coach of the year, published in Wednesday’s SouthtownStar, it’s time to make a few observations and officially put a fork into one of the most exciting seasons in recent memory. I’ve witnessed some exceptional playoff performances during my 24 years covering high school baseball, but Dylan Rosa’s seven-game stretch during Providence’s Class 4A state championship ranks at the top. The young man came through with clutch hits that put his team ahead on the scoreboard in six of those seven games. Rosa’s three-run walk-off triple in the bottom of the … ]]> Sun, 27 Jul 2014 08:21:22 -0500 <![CDATA[ Disabato: Southland the capital of Illinois baseball ]]> Lead story image

Wow. There’s no better word to describe the Southland’s achievements during the high school baseball season. Three state champions in the state’s four classes: Illinois Lutheran in 1A, Lemont in 3A and Providence in 4A. A remarkable achievement for certain, one that further cements the Southland’s reputation as a baseball hotbed. All three teams had to navigate their way around stiff competition and fully deserve the distinction of state champion. “It’s a great thing for the area,” Providence coach Mark Smith said. “The Catholic Blue had two teams (St. Rita’s the other) in the 4A championship. We’re practically neighbors with … ]]> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 15:36:36 -0500 <![CDATA[ Disabato: Everything comes up (Dylan) Rosa for Providence ]]> Lead story image

One ferocious swing of the bat by Rosa broke the 1-1 tie and brought the Providence faithful to its feet, causing the stands to shake with rock-concert excitement. ]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 06:49:23 -0500 <![CDATA[ Disabato: Lemont accomplishes dream with never-say-die attitude ]]> Lead story image

Teams with title aspirations don’t own a white flag or surrender before the final out is recorded. That’s why Lemont is the Class 3A baseball state champions. ]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 06:47:26 -0500 <![CDATA[ Disabato: Confident Providence having a ball in postseason ]]> Lead story image

When Providence was sitting 16-12 and languishing near the bottom of the rugged Catholic League Blue standings, a postseason run appeared about as likely as seeing St. Rita coach Mike Zunica guide his team most of the season without a front tooth. Guess what? The Celtics have advanced to the Class 4A Final Four and Zunica, bless him, remains toothless until the effects of an old hockey injury are corrected. Ah, the sacrifices a man will make to remain handsome. So how is it that a Providence team that finishes fifth in the Catholic Blue is one of four teams, … ]]> Sun, 13 Jul 2014 17:12:05 -0500 <![CDATA[ Disabato: Memorable times for Illinois Lutheran baseball coach Mark Kjenstad ]]> Lead story image

It took Illinois Lutheran coach Mark Kjenstad a long time to recover from last season’s regional playoff loss. The 2013 Chargers set a school-record for wins in a season — 21 — which raised hopes of an extended playoff journey. However, they failed to advance beyond the regional semifinals, falling 1-0 to Grant Park. “I’ve had some agonizing losses in my career,” Kjenstad said. “Last year’s loss took a long time to get over.” Illinois Lutheran avoided early playoff drama this season, claiming regional and sectional championships. In fact, the Chargers find themselves two wins away from the Class 1A … ]]> Sun, 06 Jul 2014 09:57:26 -0500 <![CDATA[ Disabato: Southland baseball teams have what it takes for title in Classes 4A and 3A ]]> Lead story image

With the high school baseball playoffs in full swing, the most common question I’m asked is, “Which team do you think will win a state championship?” In most years, I could produce a clear-cut favorite to advance to the state finals in Joliet. That’s not the case this postseason. In Class 4A, there are at least a half-dozen teams capable of advancing to Silver Cross Field on June 13 — and it’s not because of a watered-down talent pool. In fact, it’s the opposite. There’s an abundance of talented teams in the Southland, which makes the prediction business a very … ]]> Mon, 30 Jun 2014 12:44:15 -0500 <![CDATA[ Disabato: Lincoln-Way North baseball not derailed amid roster turnover, new coach ]]> Lead story image

When a star-studded team loses seven starters to graduation, including the ace of its pitching staff, one would expect some growing pains the following season. Maybe not a total collapse by the team, but a few bumps in the road on the way back to respectability. That’s not the case for Lincoln-Way North’s baseball team. I’ve heard of reloading, but what the Phoenix has accomplished this season is borderline lunacy. If you recall, North was the SouthtownStar’s preseason No. 1 team in 2013. It was a fine season, one that included the Phoenix rolling to 22-0, plus conference and regional … ]]> Tue, 24 Jun 2014 07:11:16 -0500 <![CDATA[ Disabato: A successful spin at Evergreen Park ]]> Lead story image

What would the odds have been if someone had suggested three years ago that the last two football coaches at Evergreen Park would be hired at Hinsdale South and Hinsdale Central? Longer than a grasshopper making its way across the Dan Ryan during rush hour. First Mike Barry, who accepted the gig at Hinsdale South three years ago. Now his successor, Dan Hartman, who formally was hired Monday as Hinsdale Central’s new coach. “I guess we have some excellent coaches,” Evergreen Park athletic director Jim Soldan said with a laugh. Barry had begun the process of turning around Evergreen Park, … ]]> Tue, 17 Jun 2014 12:48:14 -0500 <![CDATA[ Disabato: Dave Connell preparing to take Andrew football to new heights ]]> Lead story image

Bless you, Dave Connell. Andrew’s new football coach actually had the guts to utter the two dirty words that generally are forbidden whenever District 230 hires a new football coach: state championship. Instead of uttering the tired company line of “we hope to be competitive” or “we strive to compete for conference championships,” the new coach laid it on the line. “I’m coming to Andrew to put some banners up in the building,” he said. “I’ve talked to some alumni. They agree that we have some unfinished business to take care of. We want to be a powerhouse.” When I … ]]> Mon, 02 Jun 2014 12:33:12 -0500 <![CDATA[ Disabato: At Andrew, it’s a life lesson via baseball ]]> Lead story image

Tom Bushnell couldn’t believe his eyes. A week ago, Lincoln-Way North was applying a whipping to Bushnell and his Andrew teammates that was so severe, one of the umpires suggested replacing the real score with a less-embarrassing margin when the scoreboard read 23-0 after four innings. “It was embarrassing,” Bushnell, a junior, said. “I was thinking this can’t be real. This isn’t how we play. This is Andrew baseball.” My sentiments exactly. This is a program Frank Ganser had built, literally, from the ground up into one of the most feared and respected baseball programs in the state. Coach Dave … ]]> Mon, 09 Jun 2014 20:04:27 -0500