QND baseball team rolls behind thunder and lightning attack
QUINCY (WGEM) - Booming bats and intelligence on the basepaths offer a nice 1-2 offensive punch for the Quincy Notre Dame baseball team.
That combination has led the Raiders (32-1) into Wednesday’s 5 p.m. game against Shelbyville (24-6) in the semifinal round of the Illinois Class 2A Pleasant Plains Sectional. The game will be played at Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield.
The Raiders have posted some gaudy numbers, entering the game on a 29-game winning streak after losing their only game of the season nearly two months ago to Arlington Heights Hersey.
“I don’t think anybody would think that at this point in the season, we would have lost only one game,” admitted first-year coach Rich Polak.
“But we’ve played some good baseball and especially in the last 10 days we’ve had some challenges to prepare us.”
QND is hitting .386 as a team with 43 home runs, hit by nine different players. Moreover, the Raiders have outscored the opposition 378-90 and have scored in double figures 24 times in 33 games.
But it is on the basepaths where QND has excelled. The Raiders have stolen 136 bases in 139 attempts, getting thrown out just three times. Yes, you read that correctly --- 136 out of 139.
“Yeah, that’s right,” said Polak, whose team went 8-0 in winning the West Central Conference South Division title. “We have got some guys that know what they are doing on the bases.
“They are not speedy guys per se but there’s more to base running than just speed. Plus, we focus a lot on taking that extra base.”
The top two in the QND lineup have combined for 55 stolen bases. Senior left fielder/pitcher Jake Schisler leads the way with 33 stolen bases and senior shortstop Tucker Tollerton has swiped 22 bags.
Last year as juniors, QND beat Shelbyville 2-1 in the sectional semifinals before falling to Maroa-Forsyth 5-2 in the sectional final.
That QND team, which featured just two seniors, finished 32-3. So the Raiders seniors have won 64 of 68 games the past two seasons.
“We got some guys who are really committed to success,” said Polak, whose son Joey was named the 2016 Quincy Herald-Whig Player of the Year after his senior season at QND. “They put in the time and energy during the fall, winter and summer.
“They are never satisfied. They always want to get better. They are a coach’s treat.”
Of the 10 seniors on the QND roster, eight will go on to play college baseball, one will play soccer and one is still undecided on future plans.
A spin through the Raiders lineup shows just how potent the offense can be:
- Name Pos BA HR RBI
- Jake Schisler LF .455 4 31
- Tucker Tollerton CF .406 5 46
- Dalton Miller 1B .530 8 58
- Brady Kindhart 3B .392 6 40
- Jack Linenfelser SS .407 2 39
- Michael Stupavsky C .338 4 20
- Nolan Robb 2B .375 6 38
- Evan Kenning DH .229 0 6
- Colin Kurk RF .329 3 17
That’s one .500-plus hitter, three .400-plus hitters and four .300-plus hitters all in one lineup.
Not to mention the loss of senior shortstop Alex Connoyer, who underwent arm surgery a couple of weeks ago. Connoyer was hitting .356 with five home runs and 22 RBI when he was finally shut down.
The benefactor of all the offense is the QND pitching staff led by the 1-2 punch of senior Tyler Dance and Schisler.
Both are 6-0 with 1.02 and 1.27 earned run averages respectively.
Schisler delivered a solid performance last week in the Raiders’ 2-1 victory over Pittsfield in the QND Regional final.
Freshman pitcher Jackson Connoyer and Kenning are both 3-0 on the mound.
Despite this being Polak’s first year as QND coach, he already knew most of his players through his baseball and softball academy that he has run for about a decade.
“I’ve known most of these young men for about 10 or 11 years,” Polak said. “They came to my training facility so I’m really familiar with them.
“That familiarity made the transition to coaching them really easy.”
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