Still Playing

OV baseballer to continue sport at Lake Land

Photo by Keith Stewart Recent Okaw Valley graduate Devon still signed his letter of intent to play baseball at Lake Land College during a May 19 ceremony. Pictured, left to right, back row are: Lake Land head baseball coach Bill Jackson and OV head baseball coach Andrew Hagerman. Front row: father Jeff Still, Devon Still, and mother Rachel Still.

Photo by Keith Stewart
Recent Okaw Valley graduate Devon still signed his letter of intent to play baseball at Lake Land College during a May 19 ceremony. Pictured, left to right, back row are: Lake Land head baseball coach Bill Jackson and OV head baseball coach Andrew Hagerman. Front row: father Jeff Still, Devon Still, and mother Rachel Still.

June 17, 2015

by Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com

It’s true that Devon Still has played golf and basketball throughout his high school career and excelled in both. But neither compares to his love for baseball. The sport is less a game to him than more a necessity.
And for the recent Okaw Valley graduate, not to mention member of the school’s fourth place state finishing team, that necessity has been extended two more years.
“I’ve always loved baseball. It was a couple years ago that I figured out if I worked hard enough I would be able to keep playing baseball, which is exactly what I wanted to do,” said Still. “I wanted to play in college, whether it was just playing or for a scholarship. I just wanted to play. So it was really nice getting an offer from Lake Land.”
That offer came relatively late into Still’s career, however. A fact that surprised his high school head coach Andrew Hagerman. Read More

Not the Best, but Close to It

Photo by RR Best Okaw Valley’s baseball team took home a fourth place state trophy from this past weekend’s tournament in Peoria. Pictured, left to right, are Peyton Hagerman, Joe Jeffers, and Devon Still.

Photo by RR Best
Okaw Valley’s baseball team took home a fourth place state trophy from this past weekend’s tournament in Peoria. Pictured, left to right, are Peyton Hagerman, Joe Jeffers, and Devon Still.

Timberwolves bring home fourth place hardware after historic run

June 10, 2015

By Matt Kracht
NP Sports Reporter

Out of 169 class 1A baseball teams just four made it to this past weekend’s ISHA state tourney in Peoria. The Timberwolves fell in two competitive contests, first against state runner up Okawville 5-3 Friday, and then against Fulton 11-7 Saturday. After all was said and done the Timberwolves took home a gigantic fourth place trophy along with some memories that will last a lifetime. The 26-9 record to end the season secured the deepest postseason run of any area squad in more than a decade.

Trying to Hold On

Peyton Hagerman took the ball in the Timberwolves first matchup on Friday afternoon. Dozer Park, the Cardinals single A minor league affiliate, had the radar gun working and both teams’ eyes were locked on the scoreboard early on. Hagerman showed no signs of fatigue despite a long season of work, popping the mitt at 86mph to start the game. His opposite from Okawville respectably registered 81 miles per hour, but had an impressive command of the strike zone. Both pitchers dominated through the first three innings, and with the game tied 0-0 heading to the top of the fourth inning it would be Okawville who would draw first blood. Read More

ALL Business

Photo by Keith Stewart Okaw Valley senior Devon Still hoists the team’s super-sectional plaque into the air for the home crowd to see Tuesday night in Champaign after he and the Timberwolves defeated Princeville 6-5.

Photo by Keith Stewart
Okaw Valley senior Devon Still hoists the team’s super-sectional plaque into the air for the home crowd to see Tuesday night in Champaign after he and the Timberwolves defeated Princeville 6-5.

Still going, OV baseball wins super-sectional Tuesday 6-5 to advance to state

June 3, 2015

By Matt Kracht
NP Sports Reporter

Lefty Devon Still had a game to remember Tuesday night in Champaign, pitching all seven innings to tally 14 punch-outs and earning his 11th victory on the season. Still also drove home the game winning run in walk-off fashion sending Okaw Valley to the team’s first final four state qualifier.
“Now having kids will be the second happiest day of my life,” said Still. “I can’t believe it. It’s something I dreamed of as a kid, but I never really pictured me in that position, but now we’re here.”
Leading by one run, 5-4, heading in to the top of the seventh inning Okaw Valley was three outs from advancing, but Princeville had other ideas.
The Princes got the lead-off runner on due to a throwing error and brought him around to score on a swinging bunt with two outs to tie the game and put the pressure back on Okaw Valley.
“It was more motivating actually,” said Peyton Hagerman. “There were a few people with their heads down. Fritz and I were ripping their heads back up. Garrett walked up to me and said, ‘You’re getting on, and I’m hitting you in.’ And I said, ‘Deal.’ Then I got on, Taylor got on, Garrett got on, and then Devon, he had himself a day.” Read More

Lady Red Repeat with McClain’s Incredible Feat

Photo by Keith Stewart Pictured, from left to right, are members of the SOV girls’ track and field team with their third place team trophy at the IHSA state track meet Saturday in Charleston: Head coach Kali Taylor, Ashlynd Risley, Amanda McClain, Emily Neuhauser, Carlin Nuzzo, Bailey Turnbaugh, and Abby Cravatta.

Photo by Keith Stewart
Pictured, from left to right, are members of the SOV girls’ track and field team with their third place team trophy at the IHSA state track meet Saturday in Charleston: Head coach Kali Taylor, Ashlynd Risley, Amanda McClain, Emily Neuhauser, Carlin Nuzzo, Bailey Turnbaugh, and Abby Cravatta.

Three individual crowns propel SOV to third place team trophy

May 27, 2015

by Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com

Sure. The 400m dash and the long jump are both events in which SOV senior Amanda McClain was at the top of her class. But the 200m dash too?
Saturday’s answer was “apparently so,” as she exploded down the big blue track at O’Brien Stadium in Charleston taking first in the 200m event and thus marking her third individual championship on the day. That coupled with Emily Neuhauser’s fourth place finish and an earlier sixth place in the 4x200 earned SOV a third place team trophy for the second straight year.
“To bring that trophy back to the communities of Sullivan, Findlay, and Bethany, it’s just a phenomenal feeling as the SOV coach to be a part of that,” said head coach Kali Taylor. “It’s something these girls are going to remember for the rest of their lives.” Read More

Sullivan Softball Staves Off Shelbyville to Advance to Championship

Photo by Keith Stewart Sullivan's Heidi Clements came up big for the Redskins Tuesday, not only with a game-ending double play, but also the tying RBI in the fourth inning.

Photo by Keith Stewart
Sullivan's Heidi Clements came up big for the Redskins Tuesday, not only with a game-ending double play, but also the tying RBI in the fourth inning.

Redskins to play Tuscola Saturday for regional title

May 20, 2015

by Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com

Tuesday evening’s regional semi-final between no. 2 seed and host Sullivan and no. 3 seed Shelbyville saw plenty of back-and-forth momentum that finally ended with a double play in the top of the seventh, earning the Lady Redskins their second straight regional championship appearance.
After taking an early 1-0 lead, Sullivan found themselves down 5-3 heading into the bottom of the fourth.
There, the Lady Red strung together six hits for four runs, including a double to deep left field by Heidi Clements to tie the game at 5-5 before Makenzie Ruppert tripled to deep left field to put Sullivan on top 6-5–a lead they would not give up. Seleste Smith then followed with a single RBI up the middle to put Sullivan ahead 7-5. Read More

Redskins Clinch Conference with Win Over Clinton

Photo by RR Best Pictured is the Sullivan varsity baseball team with their Central Illinois Conference title plaque, which they won following a 6-2 win over Clinton last Thursday. Pictured, front row, left to right: Brody Elder, Dylan Hart, Jacob Piper, Matthew Sparrow, Blake Stewart, and Nick Frerichs. Back row: head coach Troy Rogers, Zach Hrvol, Levi Nadler, Drew Harris, Dylan Liddiard, Dakota Clayton, and Alec Ballinger.

Photo by RR Best
Pictured is the Sullivan varsity baseball team with their Central Illinois Conference title plaque, which they won following a 6-2 win over Clinton last Thursday. Pictured, front row, left to right: Brody Elder, Dylan Hart, Jacob Piper, Matthew Sparrow, Blake Stewart, and Nick Frerichs. Back row: head coach Troy Rogers, Zach Hrvol, Levi Nadler, Drew Harris, Dylan Liddiard, Dakota Clayton, and Alec Ballinger.

Will begin regional play next week

May 13, 2015

By Matt Kracht
NP Sports Reporter

The Sullivan Redskins secured the CIC(Central Illinois Conference) inaugural championship Thursday at Leon Lane Memorial Field thanks to a strong pitching performance by Jacob Piper, who went five innings of shutout baseball, ultimately allowing just two runs on two hits over the complete game. Sullivan ran its way to a lead early and held off a sixth inning rally to claim the program’s first conference title in more than 15 years.
Celebrating with his team after the win, head coach Troy Rogers gave all the credit to his players. “These are a great group of kids who played a lot of baseball over the years, and I couldn’t be more proud of them. They deserve it.”
Rogers also complimented Piper who was starting just his second game on the season.
“He had just had some relief appearances, and he is 2-0 now after starting last weekend versus Okaw Valley. I know he is going to throw strikes, keep them off balance, and let his defense work. We have been playing solid defense behind him. We had one hiccup where we gave Clinton a couple extra outs, but Jacob did a good job getting out of it, keeping that four run cushion.” Read More

Neuhauser’s Next Net: Lake Land College

Photo by Keith Stewart Sullivan senior and basketball player Emily Neuhauser signs her letter of intent committing to play basketball at Lake Land College in an April 8 ceremony. Pictured, front row, left to right: Father John Neuhauser, Emily, mother Barb, and sister Paige. Back row: Sullivan girls’ head coach Sheri McCain, assistant coach Tiffinie Tucker, and Lake Land College girls’ head coach Dave Johnson.

Photo by Keith Stewart
Sullivan senior and basketball player Emily Neuhauser signs her letter of intent committing to play basketball at Lake Land College in an April 8 ceremony. Pictured, front row, left to right: Father John Neuhauser, Emily, mother Barb, and sister Paige. Back row: Sullivan girls’ head coach Sheri McCain, assistant coach Tiffinie Tucker, and Lake Land College girls’ head coach Dave Johnson.

Sullivan senior to become Lady Laker this fall

May 6, 2015

by Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com

There really is something to be said for love of the game. And gained.
Just ask Emily Neuhauser.
The Sullivan senior hoopster last month signed her letter of intent, committing to join Lake Land College’s women’s basketball team come this fall.
“It’s going to be a lot different because it’s the collegiate level,” acknowledged Neuhauser. “I’m excited to see where he (Dave Johnson) puts me on that court. I’ll do whatever he says. I’m ready to see what he has in store for me.”
Neuhauser’s journey actually began with SHS alum Asia Morrison three years ago. Morrison was scouted and ultimately recruited by Lake Land’s head coach Dave Johnson, who says even then, Neuhauser caught his eye. Read More

Timberwolves Baseball Sharp in 9-1 Victory over LSA

Photo by Keith Stewart Okaw Valley sophomore Taylor Coleman reaches for first on a throw-out attempt Monday.

Photo by Keith Stewart
Okaw Valley sophomore Taylor Coleman reaches for first on a throw-out attempt Monday.

Still, still undefeated from the mound

April 29, 2015

By Matt Kracht
NP Sports Reporter

Okaw Valley starter Devon Still (7-0) won his seventh game in as many starts while improving the Timberwolves overall record to 18-1, after defeating Decatur LSA. Still had an all-conference day fanning 10 of the opposition over seven innings of one-run ball, and helping his own cause at the plate going 4-4 with three RBIs.
Coach Andrew Hagerman expected nothing less from his senior lefty.
“Devon pitched well which is no surprise. He located all his pitches, and he played like a senior, and he has been doing it all year.”
Still pitched out of a first inning jam thanks to a web gem by his third baseman and then struck out the side in the second, twisting right handed batters into the ground with nasty movement down and in. Still flashed some leather of his own in the third inning coming off the mound to make an excellent play on a would be bunt single. Still whirled and delivered a missile across the diamond beating the runner to first. Capping off the performance Still struck out the side again in the fifth overmatching the LSA hitters with a mix of velocity and movement. Coach Hagerman thought the defensive effort was a big factor in the win. Read More

Lady Redskins Cruise Past St. Anthony 14-3

Photo by Keith Stewart Sullivan sophomore Bailee Pratt slides in safely to third Tuesday evening. Pratt’s walk-off RBI in the fifth sealed the Lady Redskins’ 14-3 victory over Effingham St. Anthony.

Photo by Keith Stewart
Sullivan sophomore Bailee Pratt slides in safely to third Tuesday evening. Pratt’s walk-off RBI in the fifth sealed the Lady Redskins’ 14-3 victory over Effingham St. Anthony.

Pratt’s walk-off in the fifth brings early ending

April 22, 2015

By Matt Kracht
NP Sports Reporter

With the wind howling out to left field, Sullivan softball muscled up to defeat St. Anthony by 10 runs in just five innings on Tuesday night.
Crooked numbers were key as the Lady Redskins scored four runs in the first, three in the second, and three more in the fourth all topped by a Bailee Pratt walk-off winner in the fifth. Heidi Clements got the start and the win for the now 10-6 squad, holding St. Anthony’s talented offense in check by trusting her defense.
Head coach Ben Richter thinks his team’s patient approach at the plate is paying dividends.
“I have been having them take pitches and try to work counts,” he said. “We have been swinging on the first pitch and that had been getting us in trouble. They did a great job seeing pitches and finding the pitches they want to hit. We jumped on a couple and they landed where we wanted them to land. So it was a good day offensively.” Read More

Park and Timberwolves Shutout Indians

Photo by Keith Stewart Second baseman Peyton Hagerman hurls the ball to first Tuesday evening. Hagerman had two clutch throwouts at first in their game against Neoga.

Photo by Keith Stewart
Second baseman Peyton Hagerman hurls the ball to first Tuesday evening. Hagerman had two clutch throw outs at first in their game against Neoga.

OV ends Neoga’s unbeaten streak

April 15, 2015

by Matt Kracht
NP Sports Reporter

Okaw Valley baseball notched their 12th victory on the season Tuesday over undefeated Neoga 3-0. Dylan Park blanked the Indians across seven innings with five strikeouts in a complete game shutout. Drew Fructhl drove home the game winner in the third inning, and Garrett Fritz sewed it up with a two RBI double in the fifth.
Both pitchers tossed a pair of scoreless frames to start the contest before the bottom of the third when a leadoff walk and steal by Joe Jeffers set up an RBI chance for Drew Fruchtl, who drove home the game’s first run on a sharp single and advance to third on the throw home. The lone run would turn out to be all Park needed. Playing the role of insurance man Fritz hit a two-out two-run double to the gap in right center which let Timberwolves fans breathe easier heading into the final two innings.
Head coach Andrew Hagerman credited Neoga’s pitcher for making it an uncomfortable day for Okaw Valley at the dish, but in clutch times the team came up big. Read More