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Lincoln wins regional championship

[MAY 28, 2002]  After its Saturday win over Champaign Centennial in Champaign, the Lincoln Railer baseball team brought home a regional trophy for the first time since 1991. The boys in red and green once again came ready to play, got on top early, and held on for their 18th win of the year (with 15 losses). The Railers got strong pitching from senior Matt Boyer, banged out 11 hits and made several extraordinary defensive plays in their 7-3 win.

Playing as the visitors, the Centennial Chargers drew first blood in the top of the first inning, scoring one run after a single to Kevin Ealy and a double to opposing pitcher Mike Nelson. But Lincoln nearly drained the blood from the Chargers in the bottom of the first, sending eight batters to the plate and scoring five times.

Leadoff and designated hitter Jeremy Ohmart started his three-hit day with a double to right-center field and scored on Mitch Sheley’s RBI single to center. Andy Knopp drove in Sheley with a liner to right-center, and Danny Schick had an RBI single down the right-field line that brought Knopp on in. Blake Schoonover continued the barrage with an infield single that prompted two Centennial errors that allowed Schick to score. Schoonover stole second and third and then crossed the plate on a wild pitch.


[Photos provided by Rich Knopp]
[Big offensive games were played by Blake Schoonover (single, 2B, run), Andy Knopp (two RBI singles, run) and Jeremy Ohmart (2B, two singles, two runs).]

Jeremy Ohmart scored a sixth Railer run in the second inning after being hit by a pitch and stealing second to get into scoring position. Mitch Sheley moved Ohmart to third with a grounder to second. And Andy Knopp ripped a two-out line-drive single between short and third, which scored Ohmart.

The Railers failed to score again until the sixth inning, although Blake Schoonover doubled in the third inning with one out and was left stranded there. The Railer sixth inning began with a single by Matt Boyer that prompted a pitching change by the Centennial coach. The new pitcher, Evan Rasso, could not stifle another Railer run. Pinch runner Michael Aper stole second and then scored on a single by Ryne Komnick down the third-base line.

Matt Boyer (now 8-2) pitched a strong six innings for Lincoln, giving up eight hits, walking two and striking out three. Behind 6-1 in the second inning, the Chargers made a charge. Kevin Ealy smacked a double to right, and with two outs, Centennial hitters lined three straight singles up the middle, scoring two runs and putting runners at first and second. A ground out to Andy Knopp at second finally ended the inning.


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Senior Ryan Williams provided another defensive highlight in the fifth inning. Kevin Ealy smacked a shot to left field, which appeared to be a leadoff single for Centennial. But Williams did a stretch-out dive and grabbed it for the inning’s first out. The play seemed to squelch the hopes of the Chargers, and they finished the inning with two ground outs to Blake Schoonover at short.

In the Charger sixth inning, another great Railer defensive play prevented at least one more Centennial run. The inning began with a single and walk. With one out, a hard-hit grounder between first and second looked like it was going to be an RBI single. But second baseman Andy Knopp dove to his left, nabbed the ball and was able to throw out the runner at first. While the runners advanced a base on the play, Boyer elicited a fly ball to Schick in center to end the inning without a score.

Blake Schoonover pitched the seventh inning for the Railers. Schoonover struck out his first batter, and after a walk, he prompted two Chargers in a row to fly out to Mike Martin in right field, wrapping up the Railer win.

It was an excellent team win for the Railers, with a few "play-of-the-week" defensive highlights.


[The Railers have not brought this home since 1991.]

The next game in the sectional will be at Illinois Wesleyan in Normal this Thursday at 6 p.m. It will be against defending AA state champions Bradley-Bourbonnais. Lincoln played a doubleheader against Bradley-Bourbonnais in the second outing this season. The Railers lost the first game 7-6 on a bottom-of-the-seventh three-run comeback, and they lost the second game 5-0. There’s no question that the Railers have a solid shot at knocking off the defending state champs this time around and moving even further in the state playoffs.

[Rich Knopp]

Area high school baseball results

[MAY 28, 2002]

At Paxton

First game

Olympia         000 010 0 —   1-  2-4

Paxton            120 304 x — 10-11-1

For Olympia: Frank (0-1) and White.

Second game

Olympia           100 10 —   2-  3-2

Paxton              365 1x — 14-17-0

For Olympia: Lacefield (0-1), Frank (4) and White.

At Normal

Illini Central      001 000 0 — 1-5-4

Olympia           200 100 x — 3-4-0

For Illini Central: Jason Thomas (3-3) and Travis Scott.

Outstanding hitter:  Josh McDaniel, 2 hits, RBI

For Olympia:  Cam Cheek (5-0) and Rush Olson.

Outstanding pitcher:  Cheek, 1 earned run, 5 strikeouts, 0 walks.

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Area high school softball results

[MAY 28, 2002]

At Bloomington

Olympia             432 40 — 13-15-0

Prairie Central    000 00 —   0-  3-4

For Olympia: Amanda Wilson (13-1), Jessie Shay (5) and Amber Lessen.

Outstanding hitters:  Tricia Gaither, 4 hits, RBI; Tiffany Prager, 3 hits, 2 RBIs.

Two Illini recruits on Global Games
international basketball squad

[MAY 24, 2002]  DALLAS, Texas — The United States entry in this summer’s Global Games, played July 4-7 and 9 in Dallas, Texas, was announced recently. Leading the 14-man roster are consensus All-Americans Chris Bosh of the Dallas Lincoln High School team, which was the Texas Class 4A state champion and USA Today national champion, and Bracey Wright of The Colony (Texas) High School. Bosh is headed to Georgia Tech in the fall, while Wright has signed with 2002 NCAA runner-up Indiana University.

In addition to Bosh and Wright, Team USA will feature four other student-athletes who have been selected as McDonald’s or Parade All-Americans this past season. They are Kevin Bookout from Stroud (Okla.) High School, Oklahoma University; Brad Buckman of Austin Westlake (Texas) High School, University of Texas; Daniel Horton from Cedar Hill (Texas) High School, University of Michigan; and Antoine Wright of Groton (Mass.) Lawrence Academy, Texas A & M University.

The other members of the team are DeAngelo Alexander from Midwest City (Okla.) High School, Oklahoma University; Ike Diogu of Garland (Texas) High School, Arizona State University; Jarrett Jack of Worchester (Mass.) Academy, Georgia Tech; Bryan Hopkins of Dallas Lincoln High School, SMU; Kenton Paulino from Maine Central Institute, University of Texas; Arim Solares of Richardson Berkner (Texas) High School, Central Connecticut State University; Deron Williams of The Colony (Texas) High School, University of Illinois; and Kyle Wilson from Jesuit (Texas) College Prep, University of Illinois.


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"On paper, this is the finest team the United States has ever fielded in this event" stated Michael Sorrell, Global Games executive director. "We have assembled 10 of the top 50 high school players in the country, and this team will feature many of the student-athletes who have made this year’s class of seniors the finest class in the history of Texas high school basketball."

Donnie Nelson, assistant coach of the Dallas Mavericks, is this year’s honorary chairman of the Global Games.

About the Global Games

Entering its third year of existence, the Global Games is an international basketball tournament that annually brings the world’s top amateur basketball players to Dallas, Texas. This year's event will feature men’s junior national teams (ages 22 and under) from Mexico, Yugoslavia, Croatia, Puerto Rico, Germany, Ukraine and a team from Africa. The tournament will be played July 4-7 at Southern Methodist University’s Moody Coliseum and July 9 at Reunion Arena.

[Kent Brown, University of Illinois assistant athletics director / sports information director]

State high school track meet

[MAY 24, 2002]  IHSA boys state track meet is this weekend.  The state meet for girls was last weekend. 

Follow these links for results:

Boys Class A & AA

Girls Class A & AA

Lincoln has some lapses and loses

[MAY 23, 2002]  Normally, after you start playing in the AA high school state baseball tournament, you’re one loss away from ending your season. Fortunately, that principle did not apply Wednesday to the Lincoln Railer varsity. After playing an extraordinarily good game on Monday for its opening regional win again Champaign Central, Lincoln just seemed unprepared for a hastily arranged makeup game against East Peoria on Wednesday, losing 3-7 to the visitors.

Other than trying to catch up from six games that have been rained out, the rationale for the game was to give the guys a chance to fine-tune their game and keep it sharp for this Saturday’s regional championship game in Champaign. Now the question is whether the Railers can mentally rebound after the disappointing performance. East Peoria brought a good team with 20-plus wins and took advantage of a Lincoln team that mustered only four hits and committed six errors.

Three of Lincoln’s hurlers were able to log some mound time. They allowed East Peoria only five hits and surrendered just two earned runs. Junior Ryne Komnick started the game and went three innings, striking out one, walking one and giving up one hit.

Senior Ryan Williams pitched two innings while granting four hits (including a home run), striking out one and walking one. While five runs scored against Williams, four of those were unearned due to two Lincoln errors.

Senior Blake Schoonover pitched the last two innings for Lincoln and struck out three, walked none, gave up no hits and one (unearned) run. The only run tallied against Schoonover was scored by a runner who reached base on a dropped third strike.


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In spite of the six Railer errors, there were several defensive bright spots for Lincoln. Junior catcher, John Peters, threw out a runner trying to steal second. In the third inning, shortstop Blake Schoonover made a great play to stop an infield single deep in the hole and quickly threw home to cut down another possible score. And Schoonover, second baseman Andy Knopp and Matt Boyer turned a double play to end that same inning.

Only four Railers had hits in the game: Andy Knopp, Ryan Williams, Mike Martin and Ryne Komnick (who doubled off the left-field fence). Komnick and Martin scored Lincoln’s only runs, in the second inning.

The 17-15 Railers still have a very good ballclub that has much better potential than their record indicates. The senior-predominant team (with seven senior starters) has what it takes to make some waves in the state tournament. If they come ready to play this Saturday as they did in the first regional game, they’ll still be playing into next week.

[Rich Knopp]

Area high school baseball results

[MAY 23, 2002]

Illini Central      110 504 0 — 11-11-0

Dee-Mack       300 100 1 —   5- 5-0

For Illini Central: J. McDaniel and T. Scott

Outstanding hitters: T. Scott (2 HRs), A. Williams (HR), Scott (2 hits, 4 RBIs), McDaniel (2 hits, 2 RBIs), C. Norton (2 hits)

Area high school softball results

[MAY 23, 2002]

Woodland     000 000 0 — 0-4-3

Olympia        100 130 x — 5-7-0

For Olympia: J. Shay and A. Lessen

Outstanding hitters: T. Gaither (2 hits), T. Prager (2 hits)

New baseball stadium a hit with the fans

By Jeff Mayfield

[MAY 28, 2002]  I was surprised when my wife informed me that her family was not staying for the whole holiday weekend and that we were going to a baseball game with some friends. I knew that the Cardinals were out of town, and I wasn’t sure whether the Sox or the Cubbies were home or not. She then informed me that we weren’t going to any of those places — that we were going to the new stadium in good ol’ Peoria, Illinois. None other than the new O’Brien Field right downtown across the street from the Caterpillar building. As you drive past the Civic Center you can begin to whiff those unmistakable smells of hot dogs and peanuts luring you right inside.

There are probably some cheaper tickets out there and coupons to redeem, but lawn seating is only $5 for adults and they let the toddlers in for free! The kids did extremely well, but we left after 8, with the Peoria Chiefs clinging to a 14-4 lead built on some long home runs, including the first-ever grand slam homer in the new park!

The park is not only fan friendly, but it is also extremely family friendly. As we entered the park we set out our blankets on the lawn at a slight incline in left-center field. We had a couple of picnic tables at our disposal as well.

To our left, right behind the massive wall in center field, was a great playground for the kids. We attended the game with Lincoln residents Scott and Michelle Fulk and their kids, Jordan and Sophie. Sophie didn’t really care, but Jordan and our son, Payne, could have stayed in the playground all night long!

They also had a moon walk and a moon-walk slide setup that the older kids were really enjoying.


After some exhausting time of play, the parents needed some refreshment. Besides the usual ballpark peanuts, dogs and nachos, we were thrilled to discover that Famous Dave’s barbecue was also selling some of their entrees in the stadium. We chowed on some brisket and pulled pork sandwiches. Later the ladies had to go back for pretzels and cotton candy, because no trip to the yard is complete without them.



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The stadium itself reminds one of the new park designs that you might see in Louisville or in Indianapolis. They didn’t leave out any details. The sound system rocks, and there is a great replay and highlight screen on the giant scoreboard in center field. They do have club and box seats close to the action and some reserved seats a little farther away.

There are lots of concession stands loaded with time-tested favorites. The bathrooms are big and clean. And of course they have a mascot, Rally, whom all the kids especially really got excited about.

On top of all that, the Chiefs are playing some pretty good ball.

In addition, if you’re there on the right night, you might just catch a member of the St. Louis Cardinals making a rehab start!

If you think that taking the family out for a night like this is too expensive and you don’t want to pay those high concessionary prices, don’t park in the lot, park for free and walk a few extra blocks. Pack your cooler full of sandwiches and buy some peanuts at Wal-Mart or Sam’s, and don’t forget to bring some Kool-Aid! There is also a great Fanzone merchandise store, and my son especially enjoyed the fireworks that went up after every Chiefs home run. He was a little upset that there weren’t more fireworks!

If you’re looking for a fun-filled family outing that won’t cost you the farm, I strongly suggest that you take in the Peoria Chiefs in beautiful, new O’Brien Field!

[Jeff Mayfield]


Summer coed track-and-field program

[MAY 2, 2002]  Starting this summer, the Lincoln Area YMCA will offer a coed track-and-field program for youth 5 to 12 years old and teens 13 to 18 years old. Participants will learn the fundamentals of track and field, as well as stretching, warm-up and cool-down.

LCHS track-and-field coach Michelle Aeilts, along with other volunteers, will teach participants the benefits of building a strong body, mind and spirit through running.

This new program will be offered in two six-week sessions. Session A, June 3-July 8, is for teens, and Session B, July 15-Aug. 19, is for youth. The program will meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the LCHS track.

For more information, call 735-3915 or (800) 252-3520.

Central Illinois Select soccer tryouts

[APRIL 17, 2002]  Central Illinois Select Soccer Club will have open tryouts for all interested players May 13-17, May 20-24, and June 17 and 19. Tryout dates and times for specific age groups are shown at   

All tryouts will be at Nord Field, located on Six Points Road, two miles west of Morris Avenue in Bloomington. More detailed directions are available at

For more information about tryouts and CIS traveling soccer, visit the club’s website,; e-mail Steve Berry, director of coaching and player development, at; or call (309) 378-4699.

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