Monday, October 2, 2023

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Illiana Christian aims to repeat as baseball state champs – other local scores

DYER, Ind. (June 14, 2023) – Illiana Christian baseball coach Jeff VanderWoude grew up playing for the Vikings in the IHSA state series, where pitching depth was at a premium.

The format had teams playing every few days once the playoffs started, meaning their aces may not have thrown some of the biggest games.

It’s different in Indiana, where Illiana now competes in the IHSAA state series. After the sectional, teams that keep advancing play a one-game regional, take a week off, play a two-game semistate and take another week off before a one-game, winner-take-all state final.

That means a team’s ace can cover all but one game after the sectional, and having a good one puts a club in a very good spot.

So it is for defending Class 2A state champ, which will be going for a repeat on Friday after winning last Saturday’s Kokomo Semistate. Illiana (24-9) plays Covenant Christian (16-15) at 4:30 p.m. Central time at Victory Field in Indianapolis. The game may be streamed via for $20.

“I like how Indiana does the state final,” VanderWoude said. “We went through that whole year, now let’s see your (No.) 1 vs. (No.) 1.”

Illiana’s No. 1 is senior Kevin Corcoran Jr., who pitched a two-hitter with 10 strikeouts in last year’s state-win over Centerville.

Corcoran was his usual reliable self in a 9-2 semistate semifinal win over Westview that was much closer than the final score suggested.

Illiana (24-9) trailed 1-0 at one point and the game was tied at 1-1 heading into the bottom of the fifth. Corcoran delivered a two-run single to highlight a five-run Illiana rally. Josh Vis and Cody DeJong also drove in runs to help the Vikings take control.

“Westview was a good team,” VanderWoude said. “Well-coached, good defense, they hit the ball.

“It felt like an Atlanta Braves (vs.) New York Yankees pitching duel. Who can break (through) first?”

Vis, Isaac VanderWoude and DeJong each had two of Illiana’s nine hits.

“We’ve been in close games then we’ve broken them open,” Jeff VanderWoude said. “I think that says a lot about our ability, our hitting — we’re making adjustments during the game. This team just competes well. They don’t give up, they keep fighting.”

Corcoran got the win, fanning 10 and allowing seven hits and two runs over 6 1/3 innings. Vis got the last two outs.

In the semistate final, Illiana rolled past Delphi 12-1.

Tyler Balkema and DeJong had two hits each for the Vikings. Gavin Meyer, who had missed time earlier in the season with a wrist injury, pitched a five-inning four-hitter, striking out five and walking one.

“That was a long day,” Jeff VanderWoude said. “A lot of energy and a lot of excitement.”

Marian CatholicMarian Catholic


Spartans cornerback Aistin Alexander is heading to the Big 12. The incoming senior, who is a four-star prospect, announced Monday on Twitter that he is committed to continue his career at Kansas.

Alexander is the No. 9 player in the state in his class and the No. 39 cornerback nationally according to the composite rankings.

TF NorthTF North

Girls basketball

The Meteors will have new leadership next season, with coach Julie (Heintz) Hadler resigning and TF North alum Centrese McGee taking over.

Heintz posted the news on Twitter on Tuesday, writing: “As a proud Meteor student, athlete, coach and teacher, it is bittersweet to announce that I have stepped down from coaching basketball here at TFN. I have loved my time as head coach and I am proud to have continued the legacy of my father, Jack Heintz, and numerous other head coaches who have previously been student-athletes here at North. It has been a privilege to serve the North family for years.”

McGee played college basketball at Illinois and DePaul, earning a spot on the Big East All-Academic team as a senior in 2014-15.

Summer college baseball

Northern League

Kevin Denty, a recent Marian Catholic graduate who’s playing for the Northwest Indiana Oilmen, was named Northern League Player of the Week for June 6-12.

Denty, who will continue his career at Valparaiso, batted .556 (5-for-9) in three games with four runs scored, two walks and two doubles.

NWI Oilmen

Elvis Night returns to Oil City Stadium in Whiting on Friday when the Oilmen host the Southland Vikings at 7:10 p.m.

Michael St. Angel, billed as Chicagoland’s premier Elvis impersonator, will perform and fans are encouraged to dress up like Elvis.

For tickets and more information, go to


Mike Clark
Mike Clark
Mike Clark is a veteran journalist who has been covering sports in the Chicago area and beyond, from preps to pros, for more than four decades.