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Jayden Spann jumpstarts Red Wolves’ season at the top of the batting order – other local scores

TF South

LANSING, Ill. (March 15, 2024) – When Khanon Gresham transferred away from TF South baseball during the offseason, the Red Wolves needed someone different at the top of the batting order.

One player in particular jumped to the head of the line: junior shortstop/pitcher Jayden Spann

“It was like, ‘Who’s gonna be our leadoff guy?'” South coach Matt Tiffy said. “He’s like, ‘Me, me, me.’ So he’s the guy that wants to play, he’s got a lot of confidence, he’s got a lot of power. … We just feed off that energy.”

That was the case on Wednesday, when the Red Wolves opened their season with a 13-0 win over visiting Washington in a game that ended after 4 1/2 innings because of the mercy rule.

Spann tripled, doubled, and doubled in his first three at-bats to jump-start the Red Wolves’ offense, scoring three runs and driving in another. He was one of several South hitters to start the season with a bang.

Senior first baseman Jack Starcevich was 3-for-3 with two runs and three RBI, senior third baseman Moises Mata went 2-for-3 with two runs and three RBI, and senior center fielder Tyler Earmsmuth finished 1-for-1 with a walk, sacrifice fly, two runs, and two RBI.

It all begins with Spann, who has embraced his new role.

“I love it — get the game started, start off with some confidence, get my team going,” he said.

Spann, Earmsmuth, and right-hander Rodrigo Arceo — who pitched two-hit ball over three shutout innings with four strikeouts Wednesday — are among the leaders of a deep TF South pitching staff.

“Twelve of our 14 guys are pitchers,” Tiffy said. “So it’s nice to have that. At any given time we can go out and use our arsenal.”

Hopes are high for the Red Wolves, who have a senior-heavy group coming off a 21-14 finish last season.

“We always want to compete in conference,” Tiffy said. “We’re not going to put a number on the season but 20 wins is always the goal. Play competitive baseball and see how it shakes out.”

“I really just want to have fun, win some games and just stay together,” Spann said.

“Strength is in the numbers. If you break apart, that’s when things start going wrong. If you stay together, success will show.”

Boys indoor track

Two Red Wolves won titles at last weekend’s Rantoul Invitational as Karrel Harvest took first in the shot put at 51-5.75 and David Nkwogu was first in the triple jump at 42-8.5.

Also for South, John Carson (20.733) and Terrell Hall (20.897) took seventh and ninth in the 800 meters; Carson, Hall, Jayden Ruiz, and Antoine Morgan teamed for third in the 3,200 relay (8:55.94), Adewale Adeoye finished 10th in the 60 hurdles (9.52) and the 1,600 relay team of Adeoye, Nkwogu, Carson, and Joaquin Terrazas finished 10th in the 1,600 relay (3:50.21).

Girls indoor track

Janiya Lucas had top-10 finishes in three events to highlight the Red Wolves’ showing at last weekend’s Rantoul Invitational.

She finished third in the 200 (26.56) and seventh in the 60 (8.13) in addition to teaming with Taylor Poole, Aniston Coates, and Sheilliyah Lipscomb to take sixth in the 800 relay (1:54.78).

Other top individuals for South included: Jamiya White (fourth, 400, 1:03.45), Nyrobi Moore (sixth, 400, 1:04.65), Olivia Jarrett (seventh, high jump, 4-10), Morgan Waites (ninth, triple jump, 30-6.25), and Coates (10th, triple jump, 30-1.75).

The Red Wolves also took fifth in the 1,600 relay at 4:23.59 (Moore, White, Earech’ Hill, Lipscomb) and 10th in the 3,200 relay at 11:58.49 (White, Rheanna Cortez, Brianna Sullivan, ShyBria Starkey).

TF North

TF North

Softball

The Meteors dropped their season opener 15-0 to Fenton on Wednesday.

Alaina Cain-Brown was 1-for-2 for North, while Jimena Jimenez and Christiana Spears turned a double play.

Marian Catholic

Marian Catholic

Baseball

Joey Baranski went 2-for-4, scored twice and drove in a run as the Spartans opened their season with a 5-4 win over De La Salle on Monday.

Also contributing for Marian was Jonathan Trotter (2-for-3, RBI). Matt Gonzalez saved the win for Tommy Mick.

Boys indoor track

The Spartans competed in a pair of weekend meets, the Bradley-Bourbonnais Invitational and the Rich Raptor Invitational.

Marian’s Paul Frazier won the high jump at Bradley with a 5-7 clear and was runner-up in the long jump at 20-11.25.

The Spartans’ 800 relay team of Kaleb Isom, Kelby Key, Maurice Davis Jr., and Zach Coleman took second in 1:35.34.

Peyton Stoffregen was sixth in the 800 in 2:09.93.

At Rich, Marian had top-six finishes from a pair of sophomores: Joseph Ingram Jr. (fifth, 400, 56.57) and Langston Wilson-Ahlstrom (sixth, 200, 25.01).

Girls indoor track

Sophomore Brooklyn Holmes broke her own week-old program record in the 60 at last weekend’s Bradley-Bourbonnais Invitational, running 7.81.

Holmes also was part of the winning 800 relay team with Autumn Price, McKenzie Mixson, and Tyisha Jackson. They ran 1:46.94.

Price was runner-up in both the 60 (7.96) and long jump (16-7), while freshman Arredia Primar took second in the 60 hurdles (9.93) and third in the triple jump (33-2).

Other top placers for Marian included: Syvonna Perry (second, 200, 27.06), Mixson (fourth, 200, 28.11; fifth, 60, 8.22), Ava Holman (fifth, 60 hurdles, 10.25), Kayla Robinson (fifth, 200, 28.11), Nkechi Okanu (sixth, shot put, 31-2), and the sixth-place 1,600 relay team of Mikayla Johnson, Akilah Baker, Antonette Baker, and Brianna Pettis (4:50.13).

Softball

The Spartans opened their season with an 8-0 loss to Bradley-Bourbonnais on Tuesday. Nicole Paris went 1-for-3 for Marian.

Girls soccer

Marian dropped its opener 12-0 to Benet on Monday.

Illiana Christian

Boys volleyball

The Vikings won their season opener on Wednesday, sweeping South Central 28-26, 25-23, 25-20.

South Suburban College

South Suburban College

Men’s basketball

The Bulldogs are the No. 2 seed for the NJCAA Division II National Championship, which begins March 18 in Danville. They open on March 19 against the winner of a game between Howard (Md.) and Florida State-Jacksonville.

South Suburban (31-2) qualified for nationals by knocking off Waubonsee 94-82 in the Region IV Midwest District A final on March 9.

Sophomore guard Jemel Jones, who was named the tourney MVP, led the Bulldogs with 29 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists. Fellow all-tourney pick Quentin Heady had 14 points and eight rebounds, Chris Harrison scored 16, Reggie Abram also had 14 points, and Julius Byrd finished with 11.

SSC’s John Pigatti was named Midwest District A Coach of the Year for the 13th time in his 18 seasons with the Bulldogs.

Baseball

The Bulldogs fell 11-10 to San Jacinto (Texas) on Wednesday.

Christian Holmes homered and drove in three runs for South Suburban (10-10), Evan Pearce had two hits and four RBI, and Kenneth Jones also added two hits.

John Lemm had four hits, but SSC lost 8-6 to Wharton (Texas) on Tuesday. Pearce and Holmes both had two hits.

South Suburban dropped a pair on Monday, 8-4 to Galveston (Texas) and 4-0 to Coastal Bend (Texas).

The Bulldogs swept the Texas Postgrad Reds 16-11 and 10-0 on March 9. Top hitters on the day included Illiana Christian grad Adam Walters (4 hits, 2 RBI), Jason Ballard (4 hits, 2 RBI), Mason Dunlop (3 hits, 3 RBI), Pearce (3 hits, homer), Lazaro Liriano (2 hits, 4 RBI), and Nathaniel MacNamara (2 hits, 2 RBI).

TF South grad Caden Podgorski allowed no earned runs over 1 1/3 innings in the opener.

SSC fell 7-3 to Alvin (Texas) on March 8 despite two hits each from Tyler Stewart and Anthony Martinez.

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Mike Clark
Mike Clarkhttps://muckrack.com/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.