Byline: Joe Bush
It's that time in the DuPage Valley Conference season when coaches bring out the bottom-line statements.
Through Tuesday, two-thirds of the DVC battle had been fought, and Wheaton Warrenville South (11-3 in DVC play) had charged to a one-game lead over the Napervilles (10-4).
"If we win (our remaining league games), we win the conference," said Naperville North coach Carl Hunckler. "If we stumble, we still have an outside chance."
"If we worry about tomorrow, we'll get beat today," said Tigers coach Bob Quinn. "We'd love to get some help, but I don't think it'll happen."
Yes, any DVC club can knock off another, as Glenbard South proved last Friday when it beat Hunckler's squad. Glenbard North is lurking at 10-5, and can play a major role in the race.
Here are the top three teams' upcoming opponents, as of Wednesday: WW South had West Chicago scheduled Thursday, have a doubleheader with Naperville Central Saturday and play two games apiece with Glenbard South and Glenbard North in the upcoming week.
Naperville North was 4-2 versus the Tigers and Redhawks, and have the relatively-easiest route to the finish. The Huskies had Glenbard North scheduled Thursday, play host to a double-header with Wheaton North Saturday, then face West Chicago and Glenbard East twice each.
Naperville Central had Wheaton North scheduled Thursday, and after playing the Tigers, have two games with Glenbard South.
The Huskies are in the best position, and they know it.
"We feel very comfortable with where we're at, and what we've got left," Hunckler says. "The pressure is really on Wheaton South."
The Tigers welcome that stress; many of them know action under fire all-too well. Tim Brylka, Kevin Beck, Tim Rimbos, Tom Schweighardt, Brad Camden, Kevin Whitkanack, Kelly Crosby and Mike Brumfield - each played major roles in the football team's underdog run to the Class 6A title and each are major players on the baseball team.
Brylka and Whitkanack played reserve roles on a Tigers basketball team which was 14-0 in the DVC last winter.
"My job's easy in the spring," Quinn said. "I get athletes who know what it's like to win. These guys know what it's like to prepare for a big game."
Through Wednesday, the Tigers had scored 166 runs, or 6.3 per game, and were hitting .340. Crosby and Kevin Schroer were each hitting over .400, while Brylka (.522) and Whitkanack (.367) have come on late. Speed is everywhere; Brumfield owned 23 steals, Schroer 19 and Schweighardt 18.
"I've never had a lineup as potentially explosive," said Quinn, who last coached a DVC champ in 1993. "We've been able to put the ball in play and take the extra base."
Possibly most important has been Quinn's young pitching staff. Seven pitchers have at least 1 win, while those same seven have pitched 13 innings or more. …