Shields, Cougars Get Things Started with a Victory

Article excerpt

Byline: Christine Bolin Daily Herald Sports Writer

It was important for Trey Shields, as the No. 1 starting pitcher, to make his Kane County Cougars debut on Opening Day at Elfstrom Stadium a memorable one.

Shields did just that, as the right-hander gave up 5 hits, walked one and struck out three in the Cougars' 6-3 victory over the Swing of Quad Cities on Thursday in Geneva in front of 1,836.

The weather predicted thunderstorms and rain. Shields was glad none of that arrived.

"I was hoping the rain would stay away because being in a new place I'd like to stay on schedule and not get moved back," Shields said. "So it was good it didn't rain and (we) got the game (in) and the win."

"I thought he did an excellent job," Cougars manager Aaron Nieckula said about Shields. "He worked ahead of guys, competed, made the pitch when he needed to make a pitch. He gave us 6 strong innings out there. He battled a couple runs here and there, but I thought he did a nice job."

The home opener also was Nieckula's debut as Cougars manager. He was the team's hitting coach for two years prior to his promotion.

"I was out there maybe in the sixth or seventh inning and we had a 3-run lead and I was thinking, as the hitting coach I was calm, cool and collected, but now that I am in the hot seat as a manager, I was like, 'We need more runs,' " Nieckula said. …