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Baranek: Former Richards standout Brianna LeBeau making big impact for Northwestern softball

When you’re talking the caliber of players and people who the three sisters are, to say Brianna LeBeau is the best of the bunch is really a relative statement. She, Amanda and Brittany LeBeau all left indelible, positive marks on Richards High School as both …

Baranek: Bad weather for softball? Teams take it indoors

Nostradamus hasn’t got anything on Julie Folliard. Almost a month ago, the Richards coach had a feeling that between the almost nonstop bone-chilling winter temperatures and the constant barrage of snow, the softball season was going to have a difficult time getting started. “We actually …

Baranek: Closing the book on the 2013-14 girls basketball season

Two weeks ago we saluted the state-worthy efforts of Marian Catholic and Joliet Catholic. Here are a few more final thoughts about a sometimes crazy, but competitive 2013-14 girls basketball season: The surprise team  that shouldn’t have been Really, what was I thinking for not …

Baranek: Super feeling for these three

Marian Catholic will be trying to repeat the magic. Joliet Catholic, to make history. De La Salle, to pull off a miracle. There are no guarantees. That’s pretty much what your humble girls hoops observer sees when he looks at the prospects for our three …

Baranek: A Ray of sunshine after four knee surgeries

Kaitlyn Ray is celebrating an anniversary Tuesday. On Feb. 25, 2013, the New Lenox native underwent knee surgery for the fourth time since she was a junior at Lincoln-Way West. Imagine having four anniversaries for something like that when you’re only 21 years of age. …

Baranek: The hole story: Makalia Brown is Mother McAuley’s finest golfer

The distance was 30 feet. The slope was steep. Her dad was holding the pin at the top of the hill. Makalia Brown wasn’t sure she could even get the ball close so that her dad could tap it in. “When I hit it,” she …

Baranek: With Shimko, seniors get their moments at Peace

Queen of Peace was an 0-22 basketball team when I first talked with new head coach George Shimko. Believe it or not, he was upbeat. We spent quite a bit of time talking about how excited he was about some of the younger talented players …

Baranek: Katie Eberling accepts alternate role on U.S. women’s bobsled team for Sochi Games

Palos Hills native Katie Eberling became an All-American in 2010 as a member of the National Strength and Conditioning Team. But the true measure of her being ALL American is being displayed internationally this week in Sochi, Russia, where she’s serving as an alternate on …

Baranek: Mount Assisi closing ‘heart-wrenching’ for former sports stars

Early in December, Cheryl Przychodni talked with groups of students at Mount Assisi Academy as part of a program called Roadmaps. A 2002 graduate of the Lemont school, Przychodni, a senior account manager at an advertising agency, spoke about communication, verbal and non-verbal, and interviewing …

Baranek: With King, Bloom eyes crowning glory

Early in the season, Bloom girls basketball coach Ron Newquist presented a challenge to junior Danielle King to step up and take over a team that because of injuries, youth and the lack of a leader was spinning out of control. She accepted the role. …

Baranek: Hillcrest’s Tanzania Sherrill rebounding into form

The spring is back in her step. The pain-free smile is back on her face. It’s Christmas again for Hillcrest junior Tanzania Sherrill, although truth be told, the real thing probably didn’t feel like Christmas. The holiday season was nothing short of a struggle for …

Baranek: Surprise story: At the half, it’s Rich Central

With holiday tournaments in the rear view mirror and conference races about to heat up, some things that come to mind at the halfway mark of the girls basketball season ... Among the surprises team-wise, hands down the biggest has to be Rich Central, which …

Baranek: Employing the fun-’n-gun

Sami Wisniewski was huffing and puffing. The Lincoln-Way Central senior was a picture of exhaustion as she stood off to the side during a timeout at the Lincoln-Way East Medieval Classic. For the previous minute-plus, the 5-foot-8 guard had raced up and down the court …

Baranek: Memory bank full of deposits from 2013

A few snippets from what yours truly saw, learned and wrote about on the high school sports scene in 2013. The courageous One of the first stories I wrote in 2013 was an amazing one involving Lincoln-Way East’s Claire McMahon. She not only beat the …

Baranek: Rich East junior Ashley Dennis coming into her own on the basketball court

Whatever the present is that Rich East junior Ashley Dennis gives to her grandfather on Christmas morning, it will be hard to top the gift that she has been giving him for the past several weeks. Ronnie Dennis has been able to see his granddaughter …

Baranek: A long-overdue homecoming for Connor

It was a special night Friday at Oak Forest High School, where boys and girls basketball stars from the past four decades were honored as “Legends.” The 1986-87 boys basketball team that competed on state finals weekend was also recognized. It was also an emotional …

Baranek: Tracy bringing a new attitude to Bremen girls basketball

“Coach, look. I’ve got a new one.” It’s a phrase that new Bremen girls basketball coach Julie Tracy says she hears practically every day at practice. The bumps and bruises bring a smile to her face every time. “They are proud to show me their …