The Lockport Legend 041218
36 | April 12, 2018 | The Lockport Legend SPORTS lockportlegend.com This Week In... Lockport Township High School Varsity Athletics Baseball ■April ■ 13 at Bolingbrook, 4:30 p.m. ■April ■ 14 host Minooka (Strike Out Cancer), 6 p.m. ■April ■ 17 host Andrew, 4:30 p.m. ■April ■ 18 at Brother Rice DISW Tournament, 4:30 p.m. Softball ■April ■ 13 host Lincoln-Way East, 4:30 p.m. ■April ■ 14 host Strike Out Cancer Triangular, TBA ■April ■ 17 host Marist, 4:30 p.m. Girls Soccer ■April ■ 12 at Pepsico Showdown, TBA ■April ■ 14 at Pepsico Showdown, TBA BASEBALL ■April ■ 17 host Andrew, 4:30 p.m. Girls Track and Field ■April ■ 14 at Argo, 10 a.m. ■April ■ 18 at Lincoln-Way East Triangular, 4:30 p.m. Boys Track and Field ■April ■ 14 at Minooka Invite, 10 a.m. Boys Volleyball ■April ■ 14 at Streamwood Sabre Invite, 9 a.m. ■April ■ 17 at Andrew Triangular, 4:30 p.m. Boys Tennis ■April ■ 12 host Lincoln-Way Central, 4:30 p.m. ■April ■ 14 at Lincoln-Way Central Tournament, 9 a.m. ■April ■ 17 host Homewood- Flossmoor, 4:30 p.m. Boys Water Polo ■April ■ 12 at Lincoln-Way East, Lockport Sectional 5 p.m. ■April ■ 13 at Sandburg Invite, 4:30 p.m. ■April ■ 14 at Sandburg Invite, 8 a.m. ■April ■ 17 host Lincoln-Way West, 5 p.m. Girls Water Polo ■April ■ 12 host Lincoln-Way East, 5 p.m. ■April ■ 17 at Lincoln-Way West, 5 p.m. ■April ■ 18 at Waubonsie Valley, 6 p.m. Badminton ■April ■ 12 host Sandburg, 4:30 p.m. ■April ■ 14 at New Trier Featherfest, 8:30 a.m. ■April ■ 17 host Lincoln-Way East (Senior Night), 4:30 p.m. Boys Lacrosse ■April ■ 17 at Marist, 6:30 p.m. ■April ■ 18 host Minooka, 5:30 p.m. loaded with area teams JEFF VORVA, Contributing Editor Providence Catholic’s unprecedented baseball title reign ended last year when Sandburg knocked the Celtics off at the Class 4A Homewood-Flossmoor Sectional. The Celtics had a postseason 23-game winning streak snapped. They had won three consecutive state titles, which had never been done before in the history of the Illinois High School Association. If the Celtics want to win another state title in 2018, they have a rough road, which includes many area teams standing in the way. The IHSA announced its assignments, and the Celtics, plus six other 22nd Century Media teams, will duke it out in the 21-team Lockport Sectional. Lockport, Lincoln-Way East, Lincoln- Way Central, Lincoln-Way West, Sandburg and Andrew are also in the mix. Providence is the only area team that will host a regional. Other teams in the sectional are Eisenhower, Marist, Bloom, Marian, Crete-Monee, Homewood- Flossmoor, Thornton, Joliet Central, Joliet West, Thornton Fractional South, Shepard, Stagg, Romeoville and Thornwood. In the April 2 edition of the Prep Baseball Report state rankings, six teams from the Lockport Sectional are in the top 25. Lincoln-Way East was ranked sixth, Andrew 13th, Lockport 14th, Sandburg 17th, Providence 22nd and Marist 25th. That means at least two of those teams will not win one of the four regional titles. In Class 3A, Tinley Park is in the 10-team sub-sectional of the Ottawa Sectional. The Titans are joined by Thornton Fractional North, Chicago Agricultural Science, Morgan Park, Hillcrest, Evergreen Park, Illiana Christian, Lemont, Bremen and Oak Forest. Seeds will be announced on May 8. The regionals begin May 21 and the state finals are June 8-9. Athlete of the Week 10 Questions with Lauren Pikulski Lauren Pikulski is a senior at Lockport Township. She has played a variety of positions for the Porters on the soccer team. The team is 3-3-1 [through April 3]. How would you say the season has started out? It’s been hard to adjust losing all our [six] seniors from last season. It’s been like one thing to another. We either have a good game or a bad game. So far, the team has either won with a shutout, lost with a shutout or tied 0-0. What do you have to do to turn that trend back in your favor? Our heads just go down after the first goal that we give up. We just have to focus and push hard through the whole game. We seem to shut down after giving up a goal, so scoring first is so important. What position are you currently playing? I started out as the center back on defense but moved to forward after a few games. I like moving around. It makes everything fun. Sometimes, it’s hard to adjust to the positions, but I will play wherever they need me to. How long have you been playing soccer? I started playing when I was 8. I first played at the rec level in Homer. Then, I played club with the Homer Hawks and with Chicago Inter. It was my cousin, Emily Sanchez, that first helped push me to play soccer. Have you played any other sports? No, I really haven’t played other sports. But I did run track and cross country at Homer Jr. High. In fact, I went to state in track in the 100-meter dash and the 100-meter hurdles. But when I got to high school, I decided to just keep going with soccer. What is it about soccer that makes it the sport for you? It’s so competitive. It just brings out the side in me that I usually don’t see. It gives me a chance to change my persona. Plus, it still has the aspect of running in it. Do you have any pregame rituals or something you do for motivation? Yes. I love to put on the headphones and listen to some country songs. Some of my teammates don’t like it, but I love to jam out to country. I like Rascal Flatts and Luke Bryan, especially his song, “Most People Are Good.” What have you learned from Lockport soccer coach Todd Elkei? He’s taught me a lot on Photo submitted and off the field. He’s taught me confidence, and he’s got me to come out of my shell. I’ve grown a lot in that confidence aspect because of him. Are you going to play soccer in college? Yes, I am. I already signed with Moraine Valley Community College. I plan to major in education. I will be playing there for two years and see what happens from there. Two of our players from last year [Brooke Janeczek and Sylvia Kordaczka] are playing there. The team did great last season [advancing to the NJCAA Division I Championship before losing], so I’m really excited. What is the best thing about being an athlete at Lockport? All the teams support each other. I’ve made so many friends throughout high school, and everyone on the teams all get along. Interview by Freelance Reporter Randy Whalen
lockportlegend.com SPORTS the Lockport Legend | April 12, 2018 | 37 Softball McElligott set to lead powerful Porters offense this season Max Lapthorne, Editor Batting average and home runs tend to be the most popular lines on a softball box score, but it’s the more team-oriented RBI and runs scored categories where Lockport’s senior first baseman focuses her attention. Tara McElligott, a fouryear varsity player for the Porters, was one of the catalysts for a juggernaut offense last season that carried Lockport to a 31-5 record. For her part, McElligott was responsible for 118 runs in just 36 games, including 73 RBI, which is tied for 15th most in a single season in Illinois history, according to the IHSA website. She also maintained a batting average above .500 and mashed 11 home runs, but the RBI and runs scored are more important to McElligott because they serve as a barometer for her team’s success. “Those can’t get done without those girls getting on and doing their job in front of me,” McElligott said of her lofty RBI total. “I can’t hit them in unless they’re there.” RBI opportunities should be plentiful for McElligott and others again this season, as the Porters return eight starters from last year’s team, including two other four-year varsity players in catcher Gracie Voulgaris and shortstop Courtney Schoolcraft. “They have the most experience, so from that perspective they are definitely leaders,” Lockport coach Marissa Chovanec said of McElligott, Voulgaris and Schoolcraft. In the early going, the Lockport offense has lived up to the hype, scoring 55 total runs in its first five games of the season. McElligott has Lockport senior first baseman Tara McElligott looks out at the field during last year’s loss to Lincoln-Way East in the sectional title game. 22nd Century Media File Photo done her fair share of damage in the early going, contributing 7 RBI and three long balls. It’s no coincidence she has gone deep three times already this season, as one of her goals for this season was to hit for more power early in the season. “I just want to start hitting [home runs] earlier in the season, because a lot of them came toward the middle or the end [of last season]... Just start that early and increase my power numbers,” McElligott said of her focus at the plate this year. Before she was a staple in the heart of the LTHS lineup, McElligott was just trying to follow in the footsteps of her older cousin, Lia Romeo, who was a team captain for the Porters softball team in 2010-2011. “I always looked up to her, so that’s how I started to get into softball,” McElligott said of Romeo. In addition to starring for the Porters just like her cousin, McElligott also plays for the Beverly Bandits travel team, as Romeo did before going off to play at Western Illinois University. But starting next year, McElligott will be donning a jersey her cousin never wore — the blue and red of the University of Illinois at Chicago Flames. Like many of her teammates on the Beverly Bandits, McElligott made her college decision during her sophomore year. Schools such as Eastern Kentucky, Valparaiso and Eastern Michigan offered to host her on visits, but she found everything she was looking for in a college right in Chicago. “Everything there was the perfect fit,” she said. The size of the school’s medical school, which is the field McElligott plans to pursue, was among the qualities that attracted her to the school, but one of the largest factors in her decision had nothing to do with herself. “For both my parents to commit themselves to me, putting everything they have into me to get me to where I am, and they can drive 45 minutes to come watch me play… That was probably the biggest thing,” she said. Naturally, her parents, Teresa and Gerry, were satisfied with the decision. “It means the world to both of us that she wanted to stay close for us to be there to watch her,” Teresa said. “... As a parent, I’m just ecstatic to watch her go out and play a game she loves to play. She’s got such passion for the game, and win or lose at the end of the day, she gives 110 percent.” While McElligott looks forward to continuing her softball career with the Flames, she is firmly focused on making this year at LTHS one to be remembered. To do that though, the Porters will likely have to find a way to beat last year’s state runnerup and conference rival Lincoln-Way East. None of the players on Lockport’s roster have ever beaten the Griffins on the varsity level, as East has topped Lockport the last nine times the teams have squared off, including in last year’s sectional title game. “For a lot of the seniors, that’s the biggest goal besides going to state,” McElligott said of beating East. “We haven’t beat them in our three previous years here. We’ve gotten close; we took them to extras and we lost by one hit. We get close every time, it’s just that final push through.” While many of the players on the Lockport team have had the Friday, April 13, matchup with East circled on their calendar, Chovanec wants her team to bring intensity to the field no matter who is in the other dugout. “Every opponent needs to be a Lincoln-Way East,” she said. “That mental approach to every game needs to be there. We need to consistently show up to play every day, and when we do that, I think the outcome will work in our favor.” A key to beating the Griffins and making a deep postseason run will be the ability of the Porters to manufacture runs when they encounter an elite starting pitcher, which is something they struggled with last year, according to McElligott. To combat that, Chovanec has her players focused on refining their mental approach at the plate, instilling in them a sense of duty to advance runners as opposed to thinking about getting a hit for themselves. “There’s a lot of different ways you can move runners, and that’s their job,” Chovanec said. “... Looking at ways that we can manufacture runs in that situation when we’re facing a pitcher of that caliber is definitely something we’re working on.” If McElligott and her teammates continue putting up the type of numbers they did last year and in the early going this season, and can find a way to get over the hump against their conference rival, this season could take them all the way to the state finals in East Peoria — and that’s exactly how McElligott sees it playing out. “I think this is the best shot we’re going to have to make it down to state, and I think it’s definitely in the cards,” she said.