By Bob Balgemann


No. 6 was a number to be remembered on 2021 Senior Night at Harlem’s baseball field. The Huskies played six seniors while winning their sixth consecutive game, 9-2, over NIC-10 opponent Rockford Auburn.

That left Harlem battling for third place in the conference with an 11-6 record, and an overall mark of 15-9.

Meanwhile, Harlem’s softball team closed in on the NIC-10 championship with another one-sided shutout win, this one 19-0 over Jefferson behind one more superb pitching performance by senior Cheyenne Nietz. Offensively, Massachusetts etc. recruit Ezmeralda Albright helped the offense by collecting two base hits, as did Alaina Schwanke and Makayla Howard. Both Helwig and Howard homered for the Lady Huskies.

The Lady Huskies remained undefeated in conference play and with just one loss, a 2-1 setback at the hands of 23-4 St. Charles East, overall. 

Seniors playing in their last regular season home baseball game were Eli Barefield, James Cooper Jr., Jacob Cunitz, Dylan Henderson, Nathan Nelson and Caden Yeoman.

Henderson had an outstanding night going 3-for-4 at the plate with a walk, three runs scored and two runs batted in. In the two-game series with the Knights, which the Huskies swept, he was 5-for-9 at bat, scoring four runs and driving in three.

Also making Senior Night memorable were Cunitz, 1-for-2, two walks and two runs scored; Cooper, 1-for-2 with a double and two walks; Nelson, 1-for-1, three walks and one RBI; Barefield, 1-for-4, scoring once; and Yeoman, one walk and one run scored.

Two of those who will be back next year also were productive in the second win over Auburn. Junior Javier Garcia went 3-for-3 at the plate with two doubles, his second home run of the season, four RBIs and two runs scored. It was his third perfect day of the season. And junior Cooper Gillette was 1-for-3 with a walk and one run driven in.

Overall, the Huskies collected seven extra-base hits.

Nelson was the winning pitcher, improving to 5-0 against NIC-10 opponents. Against Auburn he threw five innings, allowing one earned run on five hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. Cooper pitched one perfect inning of relief, with one strikeout, as did Yeoman, striking out two of the three batters he faced.

Big, early lead

Harlem rang up a big, early lead of 13-0 in the first game with Auburn, scoring six runs in the first inning and seven in the second. The final outcome was 15-4 for the Huskies, who collected 12 hits from the 12 who played that day.

Henderson was 2-for-5 in his customary leadoff position, with two doubles, two runs scored and one RBI. Also having a multi-hit game was junior Kaden Bergstrom (2-for-3), who rapped hit his second home run of the season, a three-run shot in the first inning, and scored twice. Cooper was a perfect 2-for-2, with a double and his season’s best four RBIs.

Garcia was also perfect at the plate, going 1-for-1, walking twice, scoring twice and driving in one run. Nelson was 1-for-1 as well, also with two runs scored, one walk and two RBIs. Junior Caden Washatka went 1-or-2 and scored one run; junior Garrett Hockison, 1-for-3, scoring once. Sophomore Owen Hunt was 1-for-3, scoring once, walking once and driving in one run.

You don’t necessary have to get a base hit to be part of the day’s production, as was shown by junior Lucas Burbach, 0-for-1 with two walks and one RBI; and junior Josh Galassi, 0-for-1 with one run scored.

Loss to Boylan

The win string came to a close, as did the month of May, when Harlem dropped a 13-3 home game to conference co-leader Boylan Catholic (19-3, 18-1).

Harlem was held to a pair of base hits, by Henderson and Nelson. Henderson and Barefield each had one RBI.

Junior Ethan Seipts took the loss and now is 1-3 in five starts against conference opponents.

With the loss the Huskies were 15-10 overall and 11-7 in the league, tied for fourth place with Belvidere North.


Action in the Illinois High School Association state tournament began this week. Harlem is the fourth seed in eight-team Sub-Sectional B, consisting of top-seeded Huntley, No. 2 Hononegah; No. 3 Guilford; No. 5 DeKalb; No. 6 Auburn; No. 7 Jefferson and No. 8 Rockford East.

The Huskies will open at 4:30 p.m. Friday at home against DeKalb (2-19). The winner will take on whoever emerges from the Huntley-Rockford East game, in Huntley, at 4:30 p.m. Monday.

Teams in the rival Sub-Section A are the No. 1 seed, Algonquin Jacobs; No 2 Mundelein; No. 3 Barrington; No. 4 Lake Zurich; No. 5 Fox Lake Grant; No. 6 McHenry; No. 7 Cary-Grove; No. 8 Carpentersville Dundee-Crown; and No. 9 Round Lake. 

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