Shane Conlon lost just one game in two years, pitching for two different high schools. He won both Illinois Class 4A final four games he started. He hit .396 one year and .425 the next.
Oh, and don’t forget his Division I baseball scholarship at Kansas State University.
Conlon polished off his high school career Saturday by helping Central (Naperville, Ill.) defeat his 2009 school, St. Rita (Chicago, Ill.), 10-4 in the 4A championship game played at Silver Cross Field in Joliet. With the win, Naperville Central (38-4) surfaced as the nation’s No. 30 team in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 rankings.
"I'm friends with those guys. … They are a great team. It took a total team effort to beat them. Not one person did it. That’s what champions do. It's the whole team," Conlon told the Chicago Tribune.
Conlon, unbeaten in 12 decisions this year, was perfect through the first three innings. He wound up striking out 10 and giving up five hits, including a home run to former St. Rita teammate Mark Payton.
As dominant as Conlon was this spring for the Redhawks, it was a 12-hit attack that overwhelmed St. Rita, which lost in the 4A title game for the second year in a row (last year, it was New Trier). Matt Cmiel, Bobby Czarnowski, Mason Hallett and Ryan Walsh each had two hits for Central, which won its second state title in five years.
The win finished off a terrific, yet sad, year for Conlon, who chose to switch high schools a year ago so that he could spend his senior year with friends in Naperville that he has known for several years. Central’s longtime pitching coach, Phil Lawler, died in April and Conlon’s grandfather also died earlier this spring. A sign displaying Lawler’s photograph and uniform No. 29 was included as a part of the team photograph after the title game.
More baseball: Chatham Glenwood wins 3A title
Glenwood's (Chatham, Ill.) bats spoke loudly in its Class 3A championship run.
The Titans scored 28 runs in their last two games, including an 11-1 romp over DeKalb (DeKalb, Ill.) in the title game. All of Glenwood’s runs came in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Senior catcher Jacob Reese had three hits in the title game and two hits in the 17-5 semifinal-round win over Joliet Catholic Academy (Joliet, Ill.), a rematch of the 2009 3A title game won 3-2 by Joliet.
Third baseman Jake Ingold also had five hits in the two games, including two home runs against Joliet Catholic. Glenwood (32-4) won its last 14 games.
Softball: Sandburg wins first-ever title
The Sandburg (Orland Park, Ill.) softball team, which lost just two games all season behind the pitching of Loyola University recruit Brittany Gardner and the hitting of junior catcher Lexi Bryant, won the Class 4A softball championship for the first time in school history with a 2-1 win over Fremd (Palatine, Ill.). Gardner won 20-of-22 decisions, including the title-game win. Bryant batted .504 with 46 RBI, including a run-scoring double in the championship game.
"It feels awesome. It really does," Bryant told the Southtown Star, which named Bryant its Softball Player of the Year.
Sandburg (40-2) had gotten to the state’s final four six times in the last 10 years, but until Saturday hadn’t won the big game. The Eagles finished runner-up to Normal Community in 2001 and third in 2006. They won a school-record 40 games this year, including their last 14 straight.
In Class 3A, Metamora (Metamora, Ill.) also won its first state title in softball. The Redbirds finished a 42-1 season by defeating Trinity (Carbondale, Ill.) 4-2 in the championship game. Jodi Rebholz pitched a 7-hitter in winning her 29th game of the season. The Redbirds won their last 33 games, setting a school record.
Storylines around Chicagoland:
* Morgan Tuck and Ariel Massengale, girls basketball stars for Bolingbrook’s Class 4A championship team, both made the USA Basketball U17 national team in a tryout camp last week at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. The team will play in the FIBA U17 World Championship in France, beginning July 16 against France in an opening-round game. Massengale, a 5-foot-7 guard and rising senior at Bolingbrook, was on the U16 national team last year and Tuck was headed for a spot on the same team except she tore an ACL during the U16 camp. Tuck, a 6-2 rising junior, averaged 18.1 points as a sophomore for Bolingbrook.
* Lukas Verzibicas of Sandburg, the Gatorade National Cross Country Runner of the Year, won the adidas Grand Prix Jim Ryun High School Dream Mile in New York by nearly two minutes over runner-up Jakob Hursyz. Verzibicas, a rising junior at Sandburg High School, finished the mile in 4 minutes, 4.38 seconds.
* Just days after visiting with University of Illinois football coaches at a camp held at Maine South High School, defensive lineman Chris O’Connor of Andrew (Tinley Park, Ill.) verbally committed to the Illini. "They liked how I did in all the drills. With the one-on-ones, I beat pretty much everyone I went up against, and they were really impressed," O’Connor told illinihq.com. O’Connor, a rising senior, also visited Northwestern, Michigan State and Wisconsin.
Paul Bowker, a sports journalist for 25 years who has worked at newspapers nationwide, covers the Chicago area for MaxPreps. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org