LANSING, Ill. (May 8, 2023) – There’s a certain comfort level for Daniel Lingua as he heads into another year with the Gary SouthShore RailCats.
It’s the third season in Gary for the 27-year-old Texas native, who has proven to be one of the RailCats’ most durable and productive players.
He did it under two managers: Greg Tagert in 2021 and Lamarr Rogers last season. Rogers has continued to reshape the RailCats roster, adding more players with experience in the top levels of the minor leagues as he seeks to improve on last season’s 42-58 finish.
But Lingua — who hadn’t played pro ball before coming to Gary — remains a fixture at shortstop. And he’s glad to be back for the RailCats, who open their season at home on Thursday against Winnipeg. First pitch is 6:45 p.m. at U.S. Steel Yard (One Stadium Plaza, Gary, Indiana)
“I think I learned a lot from … having two different managers,” he said during the club’s media day last week. “You’re able to take different things from both of them and I think this offseason I put some things together and some things clicked for me.”
Lingua’s batting average ticked down a bit last year to .271 from .281 in 2021. But he was up in almost every other category, including runs (57), doubles (23), homers (6), RBI (48), and stolen bases (29).
That helped earn him American Association Rookie Position Player of the Year honors.
Lingua believes in the adage that the best ability is availability. He played in 89 of the RailCats’ 100 games in 2021 and 96 of 100 last season.
“(I’m) just the guy that’s gonna show up every day and try to be the best player he can be,” he said. “Make as many plays as you can in the field, help the pitchers out and whatever Lamarr asks me to do as a hitter. Then I’ll do what needs to get done.”
It helps that his double-play partner, second baseman Michael Woodworth, also returns.
Woodworth, who spent a year in the Oakland A’s farm system before joining the RailCats, hit .294 with 75 runs, 43 RBI, and 23 steals in 99 games last season.
“That’s really huge,” Lingua said, “We have a great connection up the middle. … We know how much range each one of us has. I think it’s gonna help out a lot especially with the new guys coming in — we can help them with (knowledge of) different ballparks and what to expect.”
Rogers likes knowing he can pencil Lingua and Woodworth in the lineup every night, knowing they’ll bring solid defense, the ability to get on base, and speed to make things happen.
“They work well together,” Rogers said. “They know each other well. It’s nice to return that (pair) up the middle.
“Dan is definitely progressing in the right direction. … He has areas for improvement, but he’s definitely trending in the right direction.”
The Red Wolves’ season-best nine-game winning streak was snapped with an 11-9 loss to Oak Forest on Tuesday.
That gave South (17-12, 9-6 South Suburban Blue) a split of the conference series after an 8-4 win over Oak Forest on Monday.
The Red Wolves rallied from a 9-0 deficit before falling on Tuesday. Tyler Earmsmuth, Khanon Gresham and Jack Starcevich all had multiple hits.
Jayden Spann pitched a complete game on Monday, allowing four walks and striking out four. Moises Mata, Rakim Ali, and Calvin Stuckey each had multiple hits.
The Red Wolves started the week with a pair of 9-8 wins, over Stagg on Monday and Tinley Park on Tuesday.
Emily Dominiak went 3-for-4 with a grand slam and two runs for South (14-13, 6-7 South Suburban Blue) on Monday. Abby Kleidon also was 3-for-4 with a homer and Morgan Kleidon finished 2-for-4 with two runs.
Christina Aguilar slugged a grand slam against Tinley Park, while Dominiak was 3-for-3 with a homer and three runs. Yulissa Macudzinski went 2-for-3 with a triple.
TF United (TF South/TF North coop)
United fell 25-18, 25-11 to Lemont on Monday.
Mikayla Derks and Tess Hensley combined on a three-hitter with 13 strikeouts as the Vikings beat Bishop Noll 12-1 in six innings on Tuesday.
Maddie Ritzema was 1-for-2 with two walks and two RBI for Illiana (13-5, 10-1 Greater South Shore).
The Vikings also beat Noll 9-4 on Monday. Derks fanned 11 and allowed two hits and no earned runs over 6 1/3 innings. She also was 3-for-4 with a triple. Also contributing were Lexi Miedema (1-for-1, triple, 2 walks) and Lauren Sherwood (2-for-2).
Illiana (15-7, 10-1 Greater South Shore) swept a conference series with Bishop Noll, winning 12-1 on Monday and 10-0 on Tuesday.
Chesterton broke open a close game with a seven-run fifth inning and went on to beat Illiana 9-1 on Friday. Tyler Balkema was 2-for-3 for the Vikings.
Illiana beat Andrean 167-176 on Tuesday, Zach Davids and Isaac Sherwood each shot 41, Will Bloom had a 42, and Donny Woo and Van Corcoran both had a 43.
The Vikings finished fourth among 17 teams in Saturday’s Rensselaer Invitational, shooting 332. Munster took first at 317.
Scoring for Illiana were Woo (80), Corcoran (81), Sherwood (84), and Davids (87).
The Vikings improved to 23-8 on Monday by outlasting Eisenhower 22-25, 21-25, 25-15, 25-20, 15-11.
In a match shortened by rain, Illiana blanked Lake Central 3-0 on Monday.
Earning straight-set wins in singles were Gianna Vukas (No. 1), Sabri Lopez (No. 2), and Avery Olthof (No. 3). In doubles, the Illiana teams of Maddy Smith-Josie Plank and Ava Lindemulder-Sophie Plank each led 6-1, 4-2 before play was halted.
The Spartans lost 10-2 to St. Viator in East Suburban Catholic action on Monday. Kevin Denry was 2-for-3 with a walk, a run and an RBI for Marian (13-13, 4-7 ESCC). Parker Engel finished 2-for-2 with a walk and a run.
Marian fell 7-4 to Marist in East Suburban Catholic play on Monday. Ella DeNormandie homered and drove in three runs for the Spartans (18-9, 6-6 ESCC), while Nicole Paris was 1-for-2 with a walk, a hit-by-pitch, and an RBI.
The Spartans (21-6) fell 25-13, 25-14 to East Suburban Catholic rival Benet on Monday.
James Bullock Jr. had four blocks for Marian, Joe Staack contributed four kills and Seb Jaculbe had six digs.
- 2023 Endurance 24 scholarship winners announced at TFN – local scores (May 8, 2023)
- SSC’s Steve Ruzich notches 1,300 wins as baseball coach – and other local scores (May 3, 2023)
- Marian Catholic alum Rick Romeli returns to coach basketball – and other local scores (April 26, 2023)