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Damn good pitching

Damn good pitching


Senior Brian Doherty (above) has thrown a pair of no-no's this year that have been a microcosm of Huntley's pitching his year as the mound has been the team's backbone this season (M.Krebs).

In early June of 2009, the Huntley Red Raiders baseball team lost to Cary-Grove in the sectional semifinal 6-0.  This team, partly comprised of seven seniors that would go on to play college ball, had lower expectations for the 2010 season than the year before.  Yet that team went further than any team in Huntley High School baseball history, achieving a fourth place Class 4A state finish.

The two freshmen on that team, Colin Lyman and Bryce Only, are now juniors who continue to excel in the Fox Valley Conference.  The duo is just a glimpse of what is so special about the 2012 team.

“Our players are buying into the system,” said head coach Andy Jakubowski, who is now in his seventh season. “We have a philosophy that stays the same and our players change to conform to that philosophy, which is really true this year.”

Relying on the strength of their defense and pitching, the Red Raiders are competing in the tough FVC Valley Division.

“Prairie Ridge is back, Crystal Lake South and Cary-Grove are good,” said Only. “Anybody can play, so you really have to be ready to play everyday.”

Seniors Justin Gundlach, Bryan Doherty, Jake Perkins, Craig Klein, and Danny Lowry have led the pitching staff.  Doherty, who has two no-hitters on the season, one in a 10-0 win against Palatine on March 29 and the other in a 5-0 win on April 27 against division opponent Dundee-Crown, is a prime example of how dominating the pitching has been.

After a slow start to the season with the bats, Huntley has relied on the rubber to stay afloat in the Fox Valley Conference (M.Krebs).

“Our pitchers are throwing strikes, keeping the ball down, and getting contact,” said Jakubowski.

Senior shortstop Jordan Chuipek has led the Red Raiders defensively to a record-breaking season.  The team fielding percentage is higher than any year before.

Alhough pitching and defense has been top notch, offense has been a struggle for the team.

“Offense has been our Achilles heel this season,” said Jakubowski.  “We need to get hits when it counts, especially going into the playoffs.”

Due to the game schedule, there is limited practice time, but these practices have three main focuses: defense, pitching, and situational hitting.

“Coach Jakubowski really emphasizes working hard in practice,” said sophomore Mark Skonieczny.  “He has really helped us improve and has taught us new strategies.”

Even with the effort in practice, the Red Raiders are failing to meet their expectations for the year, sitting at currently just over .500 with less than half of the season left to play.

“Even though our record doesn’t show our ability, nobody will talk about losses if you go far in the playoffs,” said Only. “Going far in the playoffs is more important than winning some conference games.”

As long as the team continues to stay positive, the playoffs will be a good opportunity to show the talent they have.

“This is a good group that all gets along well,” said Jakubowski.  “We are in a rut right now, but hopefully we can play our best ball at the end of the year and go far in the playoffs.”

The Red Raiders are hoping to make a repeat of 2010, but go all the way this time.

“We need to work even harder and believe in ourselves,” said Skonieczny. “Everybody needs to have faith in everybody. We just need to play as a team and we will go far.”

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