Preps Talk

Volstad can't get streak out of mind yet


Volstad can't get streak out of mind yet

LOS ANGELES Its there in the back of Chris Volstads mind. How could it not be?

Volstad still hasnt won a game in his last 21 starts in the big leagues, and this is a bottom-line business. But that wasnt the takeaway from Saturday nights tough-luck 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Volstad almost matched Clayton Kershaw, the National Leagues reigning Cy Young Award winner, pitch for pitch. And if Matt Kemps shot to right-center field hadnt bounced off the top of Joe Mathers glove and over the wall for a two-run homer, this could have been a different ballgame at Dodger Stadium.

As it stands, Volstad (0-8, 7.22 ERA) last notched a victory on July 10, 2011 with the Florida Marlins. But manager Dale Sveum saw someone throwing the ball with conviction, challenging hitters inside and not shaking off the catcher too much.

Once the game starts, its just baseball, Volstad said. But off the field, maybe before games, stuff like that, you might think about it some. Its hard not to. Its pretty apparent its a long streak. But Ive taken a different approach, simplifying it.

After selling off pieces at the trade deadline, the Cubs (43-62) are sticking Volstad in the rotation for the rest of the season, which amounts to around 10 starts to prove he belongs.

The hope is that The Streak doesnt become A Thing.

Its not not in his head, Sveum said. Unfortunately, you start thinking, Man, I cant blow this because I got the lead right now and I want this win and so on and so forth. So instead of just pitching, youre worrying about another entity that shouldnt be in your head.

Volstad limited the Dodgers (58-50) to two runs across seven innings and walked only one batter. Hes trying not to worry about the big picture.

(I) try not to think too much, Volstad said. Thats what gets me in trouble. I tend to think a lot and my mind gets in my own way. Just try to simplify it basically down to each single pitch and focus on that and see what happens.

Playoff drama highlights a busy week on High School Lites

Playoff drama highlights a busy week on High School Lites

High School Lites had a busy show as it was the final week of the regular season for IHSA boys basketball Class 3A and 4A. The Class 1A and 2A playoffs also tipped in boys basketball as the show has some thrilling regional titles that were decided in the final minute. And finally, the girls basketball Class 1A and 2A state semifinals were played on Friday as the state's top teams played in Bloomington.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @NBCSPreps for the latest news and scores for IHSA basketball.

Wintrust Athlete of the Week: Richards wrestler Mia Palumbo

Saint Xavier Team of the Week: Simeon boys basketball


Marshall shocks Leo in Class 2A regional final

Aurora Christian runs past Harvert Christian for 1A regional title

Buzzer-beater lifts Monticello over Gibson City for regional title

Jacobs goes unbeaten in Fox Valley with win over Dundee-Crown

West Aurora gets by rival East Aurora

Yorkville completes season sweep of DeKalb

Lemont escapes past T.F. North

Marshall needs OT to get past Teutopolis in girls 2A semifinals

Harlan takes down Eureka in 2A semifinals

Stockton runs by Okaw Valley in 1A

Schlarman races by Lebanon

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. One big reunion.

The Blackhawks will square off with the Blue Jackets for the first time since Oct. 7, which was the second game of the season. In that game, they won 5-1 led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad, each of whom scored a goal and added an assist.

Of course, that was the first game since the offseason trade that sent Artemi Panarin to Columbus and Saad back to Chicago, along with Anton Forsberg. Artem Anisimov, of course, was part of the original deal that sent Saad to Columbus in 2015, so there are a lot of emotional ties between the two teams.

Forsberg didn't get a chance to face the Blue Jackets in the first meeting, but there's a chance he will this time with it being the second of a back-to-back and Jean-Francois Berube getting the start in Friday's 3-1 win over San Jose.

2. Panarin and Kane bromance.

The emotions of a difficult break-up have probably died down by now, but Panarin and Kane gave us this moment at center ice during pregame warmups in their first game against each other and it hit Chicago right in the feels:

Panarin has spent enough time apart from Kane for people to realize how big of a star he is in his own right, leading the Blue Jackets in all three scoring categories: goals (17), assists (32) and points (49).

He hasn't gone more than three games this season without recording a point, and is looking to extend his point streak to four games, which would tie a season high.

3. Struggling Blue Jackets special teams.

The Blue Jackets got off to a great start but are barely clinging onto a wild card spot going into Saturday's game, and a big reason for that slide is their lack of success on special teams. Usually one can pick up the slack for the other, but they've been brutal in both departments.

The Blue Jackets are 0-for-9 on the power play in their past five games and are ranked 31st overall, converting on only 14.1 percent of their opportunities. They also have own the 27th-ranked penalty kill with a 76.3 percent success rate.

So if there's an area the Blackhawks can exploit, it's that. But, you know, still be mindful of that Russian winger's one-timer from the faceoff circle.