May 8, 2013
Cyclones end challenging season on high note
Between the weather, a small roster and some injuries, the Cyclones had a rough go of things in 2013. Ending at .500 in the conference and battling through some difficult matchups, the team came together to fight through a shorter than normal schedule and played some of their best games in the NJCAA Region IV semi-finals to end the season.
Including doubleheaders, the Cyclones couldn’t play 21 games due to poor weather. Paired with a roster of 11, including one player with an injured shoulder, Moraine Valley couldn’t afford to have any additional serious injuries to jeopardize the season. Despite all that, the Cyclones were 14-19 overall and 6-6 in the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference. In their last 13 games the team had a 7-6 record. They kept many games close, including a couple meetings with powerhouse Kankakee Community College.
“In the last five games [including one against Kankakee] the team played well and ended on a high note. This was a rough season. You were always worried that someone would get hurt, and we already had one hurt to start,” said head coach Mike Veen. “But it worked out well. It wasn’t a great season, but it wasn’t terrible. I think the weather got us more than anything.”
There were several huge contributors this year. Freshman Amie Raynor (Sandburg) took on a pitching role when asked, but primarily led the team at the plate batting .400 with a .429 on-base percentage. She had 39 RBIs, 15 doubles and six homeruns, ranking 38th in NJCAA Division II in slugging percentage with a .770. Freshman Ari Bulthius (Mother McAuley) wasn’t far behind with a .375 average and 23 RBIs while Jenny Vanek (Mother McAuley) finished with a .330, hitting 24 RBIs, five homeruns, five triples and seven doubles. Both Raynor and Vanek were named to the All-Conference first team. Sophomore Sam Staisiunas (Andrew) had another big year, batting .366 with 28 RBIs and earning her second consecutive nod to the All-Conference team while Danielle Stark (Stagg) batted .360. Sophomore Emily Kurek (Mount Assisi) came through on the mound for a number of games this season, even earning her first no-hitter against Morton College.
“This was a good group of girls. I’ll miss the sophomores, but I look forward to the freshman returning next year in addition to the recruits I have,” Veen said.
Stark is hoping to continue her education and softball career at a local four-year university while Courtney Wheaton (Illiana Christian) has signed to play at Trinity Christian College.
May 6, 2013
Cyclones fight to the end in playoffs
It took three games in the NJCAA Region IV quarterfinals for the fighting Cyclones to grab two wins and advance to the semi-finals May 3 where competition was even fiercer. Through a scrappy fight, the Cyclones persevered, but lost both games to end the season.
For the third time this season the Cyclones had to face Kankakee Community College, which is never an easy task. Moraine Valley stunned the Cavaliers from the first inning when Danielle Stark and Jenny Vanek singled before Amie Raynor cleared the bags with a homerun. A powerful Kankakee team countered with some big hits, handing the Cyclones a 9-7 loss.
With the end of the season hanging over them, the Cyclones lost momentum in their second matchup with College of Lake County, losing 9-4. Raynor went 2-for-4 with a double, triple and two runs scored, Sam Staisiunas had a double and run scored, Vanek was 2-for-4 with a run scored, and both Ari Bulthius and Janay McGovern went 1-for-3 with a double.
May 2, 2013
Cyclones take Pioneers in three; advance to semi-finals
Last season in the NJCAA Region IV playoffs Prairie State College halted the Cyclones’ run, but this time around Moraine Valley would have none of it. At the start of the Region IV quarterfinals May 1, the Cyclones took two of three from their conference rival to advance to the semi-finals this weekend.
Ace Emily Kurek threw the heat to kept the Pioneers in check. She won the first and third games, 2-0 and 12-4. In the shutout game, Kurek threw a four-hitter. “She hit all her spots and kept jamming them at the plate. These were the two best games she’s pitched all season. We shut the door on them,” said head coach Mike Veen.
Kurek struck out two and popped up nine batters. She had help at the plate from Courtney Wheaton and Amie Raynor, who both got on base, and Ari Bulthius who drove in both runs on a double.
The Cyclones were up 5-2 in the second game before Raynor’s arm gave out and the Pioneers’ bats came alive in the fifth inning. It was a struggle for the Cyclones to come back, and they ended up dropping the game 7-5. At the plate, Raynor went 3-for-4 scoring twice. Bulthius and Kurek each scored with Kurek hitting an RBI.
Once Moraine Valley grabbed the lead in the tie-breaking third game, they kept on pounding out the hits. Several times this season the Cyclones would take the lead, go on cruise control and lose the game or come close to losing, but not this time, Veen said. In a rare softball moment, the Cyclones even ended the game with a double play. Some key hits came from Bulthius (3-for-4, double, scored three times), Kurek (3-for-4 with a run scored), Melanie Gerhardt (1-for-3, scoring once), and Jenny Vanek (1-for-3, homerun, scored twice).
April 28, 2013
Cyclones fall in final conference outing of season
In their last conference game of the season, the Cyclones fell to College of Lake County on April 27.
After some recent heavy-hitting outings, the offense was stunted in the first game with the Cyclones shut out 10-0. Courtney Wheaton, Sam Staisiunas and Amie Raynor each went 1-for-2.
In the second game, Staisiunas and Raynor hit the RBIs, scoring Vanek and Stark in the 9-3 loss.
The Cyclones start playoff action May 1 against Prairie State College.
April 27, 2013
Splitsville for Cyclones
It was another battle of the bats on April 26 as the Cyclones split two with Triton College.
Moraine Valley took the first game 13-12 thanks to some heavy hitters including Amie Raynor (3-for-5, two runs, six RBIs, double, homerun), Jenny Vanek (three runs, two hits, two RBIs, double, homerun), Ari Bulthius (one run, two RBIs, double), and Danielle Stark (3-for-6, three runs scored).
Raynor was on fire again in the second game, a 14-6 win, belting two more homeruns, five RBIs and scoring twice. Bulthius (2-for-4, three RBIs, double), Vanek (3-for-4, four runs scored, four RBIs, double) and Stark (3-for-4, two RBIs, double, four runs scored) each hit a homerun as well.
April 22, 2013
Cyclones take one of two
On April 21 the Cyclones split with South Suburban College, losing the first matchup 11-4 before winning 16-13.
Ari Bulthius hit three RBIs while Amie Raynor hit the fourth one in the loss. Emily Kurek went 2-for-2 scoring twice while Janay McGovern scored one as well as Sam Staisiunas who hit two doubles.
The offense for both teams was on fire in the second game, especially for Staisiunas (six RBIs, two homeruns, three runs scored), Raynor (five RBIs, three doubles, one run scored) and Kurek (two RBIs, four runs scored) who also threw for the win.
April 21, 2013
Cyclones handle Kougars
It was a clean sweep for the Cyclones as they took two from Kishwaukee College on April 20, winning 6-4 and 13-10.
Emily Kurek and Amie Raynor were the winning pitchers. Danielle Stark had a big night hitting five RBIs, two doubles and a triple over both games. Ari Bulthius went 3-for-4 with an RBI and double in the first game. In addition to pitching, Raynor went 4-for-5 at the plate with five RBIs and two homeruns while Courtney Wheaton was 2-for-4 with four RBIs.
April 17, 2013
Cyclones split, Kurek throws no-hitter
Playing Morton College brings out the best in Moraine Valley’s pitchers. Although the Cyclones split the series with the Panthers on April 16, Emily Kurek threw a no-hitter, something her teammate Sam Staisiunas did last year.
Both teams battled in the first game, with each taking a lead at some point before the Cyclones fell 9-7. The big hitters were Jenny Vanek with an RBI, triple and two runs; Danielle Stark with a double and a two RBIs; and Amie Raynor with and RBI and double.
In her time on the mound, Kurek walked one batter, preventing her from the elusive perfect game in the Cyclones’ 8-0 victory. She helped her cause with an RBI and run scored. Helping at the plate were Stark (two hits, two runs), Vanek (two RBIs) and Staisiunas (three hits, two RBIs, one run).
April 15, 2013
’Clones take home one in tourney
From blustery, cold conditions to sun and warmer temps, the Cyclones had an eventful weekend, April 13-14, at the East/West Tournament. Despite wild weather, Moraine Valley played well, earning at least one win in the mix.
In their first game, the Cyclones faced a tough Muscatine Community College team, losing 9-2. Moraine Valley held on to a 2-1 lead until the fifth inning. Amie Raynor took the loss, striking out seven. Danielle Stark and Jenny Vanek each had an RBI with Vanek hitting a triple.
Facing Carl Sandburg College is always a battle, but Moraine Valley fought the whole way. Up until the seventh inning the teams were locked 0-0. Emily Kurek gave up just one earned run and the Cyclones fell 2-0. Vanek doubled and Ari Bulthius went 2-for-3.
The Cyclones had better weather on April 14 when they split two with Highland Community College. Raynor won the first game, 4-1, striking out four and giving up no earned runs. Vanek went 2-for-4 with an RBI and triple. Sam Staisiunas had a double and two RBIs. Staisiunas, Vanek, Melanie Gerhardt, and Kristin Renken each scored. In the nightcap, Kurek took the 7-3 loss but was on fire at the plate hitting three doubles and scoring one. Raynor had two doubles and an RBI.
April 10, 2013
Cyclones handed losses at home
After getting beaten up by Waubonsee Community College in a weekend tournament, the Cyclones played a better doubleheader against their conference rival, but came up short at home April 9.
Both games could have gone either way, according to coach Mike Veen. However, the Cyclones came up with the short end of the stick, losing 8-5 and 7-2. The bats were alive in the first game with Danielle Stark, Sam Staisiunas and Emily Kurek each scoring a run in the effort. Amie Raynor had a double and triple, driving in three and scoring once.
Stark made some noise in the second game scoring again and hitting a triple. Jenny Vanek scored once and was 2-for-3 at the plate while Melanie Gerhardt had an RBI and Ari Bulthius went 3-for-3.
April 8, 2013
Rough weekend for ’Clones
After sweeping Elgin, the Cyclones felt the other side of the coin, April 6-7, at the Kankakee Tournament. In four games, Moraine Valley struggled offensively against some tough teams.
The Cyclones faced Kankakee Community College again, but were pounded 13-1. Emily Kurek took the loss and Courtney Wheaton scored the lone run.
There was a little more action at the plate against Waubonsee Community College in a 13-3 Cyclones loss. Sam Staisiunas and Ari Bulthius each had an RBI while Staisiunas and Melanie Gerhardt scored a run each.
Moraine Valley faced a tough competitor in East Central College on April 7. Jenny Vanek hit a homerun in the 16-1 loss and Jessica Rivera went 1-for-1.
There was more fight from the Cyclones in their last game of the tournament. Although Moraine Valley lost 11-7, they played well against Oakland Community College. Amie Raynor took the loss. Staisiunas had another good game with a double, RBI and run scored while Danielle Stark went 2-for-3 and Wheaton was 3-for-4, scoring two.
April 5, 2013
Cyclones sweep Spartans
In their second conference sweep this season, the Cyclones took down Elgin Community College 5-4 and 11-9 on April 4.
Pitchers Amie Raynor and Emily Kurek each took home wins thanks to defensive help on the field and hot bats. For the night Sam Staisiunas went 4-for-6, including a double and triple, with six runs scored, and two RBIs. Ari Bulthius was 4-for-6 with four RBIs, scoring twice. Jenny Vanek and Kurek each scored a run and had an RBI. Janay McGovern went 3-for-4.
April 4, 2013
Cyclones battle with Cavaliers
Playing Kankakee Community College is always a challenge, but the Cyclones fought the good fight in at least one of two losses on April 3.
It was a pitchers’ duel in the first game until the last inning when the Cavaliers pulled ahead 2-1. Amie Raynor, who has only been pitching for a couple months, struck out two and had batters hitting into easy outs. Ari Bulthius went 1-for-3 with a double and run scored while Kristin Renken had an RBI.
Sam Staisiunas took the next loss after the Cyclones fell 10-2. Raynor had two RBIs and a double. Jenny Vanek was 1-for-2.
April 3, 2013
Odd split for Cyclones
The Cyclones took a hit April 2 with a loss and rare tie to Prairie State College. The offense struggled in the first game which Moraine Valley lost 10-4. Danielle Stark went 2-for-4 with a double and run scored while Kristin Renken was 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Sam Staisiunas and Ari Bulthius each had an RBI. Emily Kurek took the loss.
In the night cap, the Cyclones fought to an 18-18 tie in the seventh inning before the game was suspended due to darkness. Moraine Valley was down 18-12 in the top of the seventh before the bats came alive to tie things up. Contributing to the scoring barrage were Staisiunas (3-for-5, double, two runs scored, RBI), Amie Raynor (2-for-5, two doubles, three runs scored, RBI) who also pitched, Jenny Vanek (3-for-5, double, triple, three runs scored), Kristin Renken (3-for-4, double three runs scored, two RBIs), and Melanie Gerhardt (2-for-4, double one run scored, RBI).
April 1, 2013
Cyclones tear into Scots
The Cyclones didn’t start their season with a bang. It was more like an explosion. In their first matchup March 28, Moraine Valley crushed McHenry County College, tallying 30 runs in a doubleheader.
Sophomore Emily Kurek pitched a complete game in the Cyclones 13-0 win. Jenny Vanek went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Danielle Stark was 3-for-4 with a double, two runs scored and an RBI. Amie Raynor was 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored while Kurek went 1-for-2, scoring twice.
In a hitting barrage, the Cyclones had everyone on the base paths in a 17-9 win over five innings. Sam Staisiunas started on the mound with Raynor earning the win and Kurek getting the save. Vanek had an even more impressive game going 4-for-5 with a triple, two homeruns, four RBIs, and two runs scored. Staisiunas went 3-for-5 at the plate with a homerun and four RBIs. Stark drove in three runs, going 3-for-5 with a triple.
March 4, 2013
Hard-working ’Clones ready for action
It’s been a long winter for the Cyclones, one where the team pounded out workouts and indoor practices to prepare the 2013 squad for game time.
After a 20-win season in 2012, the Cyclones lost All-Region player Theresa Urchell (Evergreen Park) and big hitter Stephanie Ruvalcaba (Argo), both sophomores, but are happy with the return of All-NJCAA Region IV and All-Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference player, Samantha Staisiunas (Andrew), as well as All-Conference players Emily Kurek (Mount Assisi) and Danielle Stark (Stagg). Kristin Renken (Richards) and Courtney Wheaton (Illiana Christian) also return to the Cyclones, hoping to set the team on a successful course this year. “I’m happy with the returning players and expect good things from them. They worked hard last year, and I’m proud of them,” said head coach Mike Veen, in his third season at the helm.
In the offseason Veen picked up some solid recruits to join the five veterans, including first basewoman Arianna “Ari” Bulthius (Mother McAuley), with her power at the plate; catcher and outfielder Melanie Gerhardt (Bremen), who played Cyclone volleyball in the fall; catcher/third basewoman Janay McGovern (Argo), a hard worker on the field; Amie Raynor (Sandburg), a versatile player who has travel softball experience; outfielder Jessica Rivera (Sandburg); and shortstop Jenny Vanek (Mother McAuley).
With such a small roster, the Cyclones have to stay healthy and many have to play multiple positions, not unlike what they did last season. “Injuries have hurt us in the past, so strength training should help negate that. We can’t afford injuries this season,” Veen said. “A lot of teams have players who play one position. My team can play multiple. It’s a good thing to have. Amie [Raynor] can play anywhere on the field. Sam [Staisiunas] was thrown into pitching last season, and she’ll be much improved this year, but Emily [Kurek] will be our main pitcher.”
The Cyclones have a sound roster and are ready and anxious to start the season. “This team worked hard over the winter despite our small numbers, and we’ve improved since the fall. They want to win,” Veen said. “Teamwork is going to play a major part in the success of our season. We have a roster full of talented women, and if they can come together and play as one, there's nothing that can stop them."
Joining Veen again in the dugout is assistant coach and former Cyclone Natalie Wigginton.
The Cyclones open their season at home March 21 at 3 p.m. against the Aurora University JV squad.