Preps Talk

Can Rich South get over the hump?

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Can Rich South get over the hump?

The south suburbs used to be a dominant factor in the state tournament.
Remember Thornridge, Thornton, Bloom, Lockport and Providence? No longer.
Since 1979, the south suburbs have produced only two state champions--Richards in 2008 and Seton in 2009.

Rich South is anxious to toss its hat into the ring this season. The Stars have qualified for the supersectional round only once. Fred Jacobeit's 25-5 team reached the Sweet Sixteen in 1997. Two years ago, Scot Ritter's 25-5 team lost to eventual state champion Hillcrest in the sectional final.

Those pleasant memories are few and far between. This year, Rich South is 13-4 with losses to unbeaten Metea Valley, Marist, Hope Academy and Bloom. But recent victories over Seton and Bloom have sparked enthusiasm and bolstered confidence in what lies ahead. The Stars meet district rival Rich East on Friday.

"We still are inconsistent on offense. We make bad decisions at bad times. Our guard play has been inconsistent," Ritter said. "But we have the ability to rebound well. Our strengths are rebounding, our ability to share the ball and balance. We have no one player to key on."

That has been Rich South's fatal flaw. "We never had a lot of individual talent all at once. We have had good kids here and there. But we usually have a lot of balance. Our identity is to be patient on offense, get good shots, play defense and win the rebounding battle," Ritter said.

"The question in the south suburbs is always that we have had to go through some elite teams...Thornton or Hillcrest or Bloom or Homewood-Flossmoor. Two years ago, it was my most talented team but we lost to Hillcrest in the sectional final and they went on to win state."

But this year the playing surface appears to be level. A dominant team hasn't emerged in the south suburbs. Maybe it won't. Ritter believes Rich South can go to the head of the class--if his guards become more consistent, limit their mistakes and mesh with what appears to be one of the best front lines in the area.

"Two years ago, we had a lot of good guards. Guard play dominates the game. Guards are the key to winning state championships," Ritter said. "But this year our strength is forwards. I don't know how far we can go with our inconsistency at guard."

Ritter, 40, in his 10th season as Rich South's head coach, relies on four guards in the backcourt. He starts 5-6 senior point guard Marvin Williams (six points per game, five assists) and 6-foot-2 senior Ralph Abraham (10 points per game), his best perimeter shooter. But Williams commits four or five turnovers per game.

Williams and Abraham rotate with 6-foot junior Jalen Zachary and 6-foot-2 senior Jalen McKaskel.

"Who will take charge? I'm looking for two of them to be more consistent. It is a good rotation but they need to limit their mistakes for us to be effective on offense," the coach said.

"We need to stay focused and not be satisfied with a couple of victories (over Seton and Bloom). We beat two highly rated teams and are ranked in the top 25 in the Chicago area. Newspapers are calling us. But we can't be satisfied because we can get a lot better, especially on offense."

Up front, the Stars are solid with 6-5, 208-pound senior John Ruffin (13 points, 13 rebounds per game), one of the leading rebounders in the south suburbs, 6-foot-2 senior Cedric Russell (seven points, eight rebounds per game) and 6-foot-3 senior Marquel Small (13 points, nine rebounds per game).

They get help off the bench from 6-foot-1 junior Demetri Strickland, 6-foot-1 senior Antoine Lira and 6-foot-4 senior Vernon Young, a starter a year ago who became eligible for the second semester.

Ruffin is the designated leader. As a sophomore, he came off the bench for the 25-5 sectional finalist. He recalls how that team practiced hard and wanted to be great, how it set goals, how it wanted to win more than 20 games, win the holiday tournament and win the sectional.

"This year we are doing the same thing," Ruffin said. "We are getting better and playing harder in practice. We don't have one player. Each night another player steps up. Opponents can't key on one player. They have to look out for all five. If we play hard on defense and control rebounding, we can still be in the game."

Ruffin's forte is rebounding. As a sophomore, after he transferred from Thornton Fractional South in Lansing, he learned that he could command more playing time if he demonstrated he could be productive on the boards.

"Some guys are taller than me but I'm stronger and quicker than most. And I use my heart, too. I have will and heart and just do it," he said. "Sometimes I muscle people and when they try to box me out I use a swimming technique with my arms and legs to get around the defender and get in front of him."

His personal best is 21 rebounds in a single game. The school record is 24. That is another of his goals. But the most fun he has in basketball is winning.

"We're trying to make history this year," Ruffin said. "It is my last year. It is my team. I have to be the leader. "Size hasn't been an issue with us," Ritter summed up. "What we need is consistent guard play. We need to make passes to guys to make plays. We need to make good decisions, to get us into our offense, to be patient. We stay in games because we rebound the ball and get extra possessions. We need to be smart and not turn the ball over. We don't want to get satisfied. We're decent, not great. But we can get better. We can be a tough out in the state tournament."

89 Days to Kickoff: St. Charles East

89 Days to Kickoff: St. Charles East

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: St. Charles East

Head coach: Bryce Farquhar

How they fared in 2017: 8-3 (4-2 Upstate 8 River Conference), St. Charles East made the 2017 IHSA state Class 8A playoff field. The Saints defeated Oswego East then lost to eventual 8A state champion Lincoln-Way East in second round action.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Rock Island

Aug. 31 @ Carmel

Sept. 7 vs Glenbard North

Sept. 14 @ Wheaton South

Sept. 21 vs Geneva

Sept. 28 @ St. Charles North

Oct. 5 vs Batavia

Oct. 12 @ Wheaton North

Oct. 19 vs Lake Park

[MORE: 90 Days to Kickoff - Warren]

Biggest storyline: The Saints have had impressive campaigns the last two seasons. Can they continue to prosper in the newly-formed DuKane Conference?

Names to watch this season: RB/LB Justin Jett and OL Dylan Barrett

Biggest holes to fill: The Saints will look to reload at a few key spots including at quarterback, as Clayton Isbell has moved on to Illinois State. Replacing RB/LB Nick Garlisch (South Dakota St.) will be key as well.

EDGY's Early Take: Coach Bryce Farquhar's Saints have produced playoff seasons in back-to-back years. Now, their regular season ramps up a bit with the newly-formed DuKane Conference. The new league features some former Upstate Eight conference foes in St. Charles North, Batavia and Geneva, plus former DuPage Valley members Wheaton Warrenville South, Wheaton North, Glenbard North and Lake Park. Look for the Saints to rely on some experience up front. Three starters are back on the offensive line, including junior OG Dylan Barrett. He has already added several FBS level scholarship offers. 

Happy Birthday, Big Hurt! 50 Frank Thomas dates and fun facts for his 50th birthday

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AP

Happy Birthday, Big Hurt! 50 Frank Thomas dates and fun facts for his 50th birthday

May 27, 1968 – Frank Thomas born in Columbus, Georgia

June 5, 1989 – Frank Thomas drafted 7th overall (out of Auburn) in first round of 1989 MLB Draft

August 2, 1990 – MLB Debut – 0 for 4 with RBI at Milwaukee (Game 1 of doubleheader).  First PA was flyout vs Teddy Higuera. Knocked in GW run with a fielder’s choice off Randy Veres in top of 9th.

August 3, 1990 – First Major League hit – a 2-run triple off Mark Knudson in 7th inning at Milwaukee

August 28, 1990 – First career HR.  Solo HR at Metrodome off Gary Wayne in 9th inning

September 27, 1990 – First career Major League home run in Chicago (at Comiskey Park)

September 28, 1990 – Thomas hits the last White Sox home run at old Comiskey Park (off Randy Johnson)

June 24, 1991 – First career Grand Slam – off Michael Jackson of Mariners at New Comiskey Park

July 15, 1991 – First career multi-HR game – both off Mike Gardiner of the Red Sox at New Comiskey Park

September 28, 1991 – 128th walk of season, breaking Lu Blue’s club record set 60 years prior.  Thomas finished with 138.

September 16, 1992 – Lone career 5-hit game (in this game, Don Mattingly took a handful of some kid’s popcorn on a pop foul by Tim Raines)

August 31, 1993 – 100th career HR – off Sterling Hitchcock at Yankee Stadium

September 1, 1993 – 38th HR of season (at Yankee Stadium off Scott Kamieniecki), setting a new White Sox record (breaking record previously held by Dick Allen & Carlton Fisk)

September 5, 1993 – 40th HR of season – first player in White Sox history to reach 40.  Thomas finished with 41.

October 5, 1993 – First career postseason game.  He reached base 5 times. (1 for 1 with 4 walks) in Game 1 of 1993 ALCS vs Blue Jays at New Comiskey Park

October 9, 1993 – First career postseason home run.  Game 4 of 1993 ALCS vs Blue Jays at Skydome off Todd Stottlemyre

November 10, 1993 – Thomas named American League MVP by the BBWAA

April 19, 1994 – Home Run for the 5th straight game.  It’s the first of two 5-game HR streaks in 1994

May 29, 1994 – Home Run for the 5th straight game.  It’s his second 5-game HR streak of the season.

October 26, 1994 – Thomas named American League MVP by the BBWAA for the second straight season

July 10, 1995 – Won 1995 Home Run Derby at The Ballpark in Arlington, Texas

July 11, 1995 – First All-Star Home Run in White Sox history (at The Ballpark in Arlington, Texas)

March 31, 1996 – Frank Thomas hits the first regular season home run in March in MLB history (off Randy Johnson)

May 15, 1996 – Career-high 6 RBI (first of two times he did it) in 20-8 win vs Brewers in Milwaukee

June 9, 1996 – 200th career HR – off Jimmy Haynes at Oriole Park at Camden Yards

September 15, 1996 – first career 3-HR game (all three off Tim Wakefield); the first of which is career HR #215, passing Carlton Fisk for most HR in White Sox history  

May 20, 1997 – Thomas reaches base for the 15th straight plate appearance (HR, 1B, BB, 2B, 2B, BB, 1B, BB, 1B, 1B, 1B, 1B, 2B, BB, BB)

July 14, 1998 – First career walkoff HR (off Rick Aguilera of the Twins)

June 15, 1999 – Extended his hitting streak to 21 games – a career-best.  He reached base 44 times during the 21-game stretch (33 hits, 10 walks, 1 HBP)

August 7, 1999 – 300th career HR – off Kevin Appier at the Oakland Coliseum

July 15, 2000 – Career-high 6 RBI (second of two times he did it) in 15-7 win vs Cardinals at New Comiskey Park

July 23, 2002 – 495’ home run off Johan Santana in Chicago.  His longest home run at New Comiskey Park/Guaranteed Rate Field

July 2, 2003 – Second career Walkoff HR – off Eddie Guardado of the Twins

July 25, 2003 – 400th career HR – off Jorge Sosa of the Rays at US Cellular Field

August 4, 2003  - 2,000th career hit – a home run off Nate Field of the Royals at US Cellular Field

August 18, 2003 – Third career Walkoff HR – off Jarrod Washburn of the Angels

July 18, 2005 – 448th and final home run in a White Sox uniform (448 remains a franchise record)

July 20, 2005 – Last game in a White Sox uniform.  He went 1 for 4 (single off Nate Robertson) in 8-6 loss vs Tigers at US Cellular Field

May 22, 2006 – First game AGAINST the White sox.  He homers twice at US Cellular Field (2 solo HR off Jon Garland) but the White Sox win 5-4

July 6, 2006 – Fourth and final career walkoff HR (only one not in a White Sox uniform).  With Oakland A’s off Scot Shields of the Angels

September 11, 2006 – Home Run for the sixth straight game (with the Oakland A’s); his career-long streak

October 3, 2006 – His lone career postseason multi-HR game.  In his first postseason game not in a White Sox uniform (with A’s – vs Twins at Metrodome)

June 28, 2007 – 500th career HR (with Blue Jays – off Carlos Silva at the Metrodome)

September 17, 2007 – Second of 2 career 3-HR games.  This game was with Toronto Blue Jays.  Tim Wakefield allowed the first 2 (Wakefield allowed all 3 of his HR 9/15/1996)

August 9, 2008 – 521st and final career HR (with Oakland A’s) – off Armando Galarraga at Comerica Park

August 29, 2008 – Final MLB game – he went 2 for 4 vs Twins at the Oakland Coliseum.  His final hit was off Kevin Slowey; final plate appearance was strikeout vs Craig Breslow

February 12, 2010 – Held press conference at US Cellular Field to formally announce his retirement

August 29, 2010 – White Sox retire #35 on Frank Thomas Day at US Cellular Field

January 8, 2014 – Thomas elected to the Hall of Fame

July 27, 2014 – Inducted into the Hall of Fame, along with Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa & Joe Torre

 

 

 

50 Frank Thomas fun facts

 

  1. 521 career Home Runs.

Tied for 20th in MLB history with Willie McCovey & Ted Williams

One of 27 players in MLB history with 500+ Home Runs

 

  1. Thomas had 11 career grand slams

 

  1. 7 extra-inning home runs is a White Sox franchise record.

 

  1. Thomas holds the White Sox season record for both

Home runs at home (30 in 2000)

Home Runs on the road (25 in 1995)

 

  1. Thomas homered against every MLB team except the Pirates

 

  1. Thomas homered more against the Twins (52 HR) than any other team

 

  1. Thomas had 2 career pinch hit home runs.  Both times he pinch hit for pitchers.  Jim Parque & Luis Vizcaino

 

  1. Thomas hit 3 triples before he hit his first Major League home run.

He’s one of two 500-HR club members with 3 or more triples before hitting his first HR.  The other one is Reggie Jackson (4 triples before first HR)

 

  1. Thomas had 3 triples in his first 17 MLB games.

Thomas had 9 triples in his remaining 2,305 MLB games.

 

  1. Thomas was born the same day as Jeff Bagwell.   They both won 1994 MVP awards.

 

  1. Thomas (1993-94) was the first to win American League MVP in consecutive seasons since Roger Maris in 1960-61.  Only Miguel Cabrera (2012-13) has done it since.

 

  1. Thomas’s .419 career On-Base percentage is the best by any right-handed hitter alive (with at least 100 career Major League plate apperances).

 

  1. His last 162 games in a White Sox uniform:  .254/.387/.566, 104 Runs, 47 Home Runs, 121 RBI

 

  1. Thomas (the White Sox 1989 first round pick) and Alex Fernandez (the White Sox 1990 first round pick)

made their Major League debuts in the same game (August 2, 1990 – game 1 of doubleheader at Milwaukee)

 

  1. Frank Thomas had 9 seasons with 100 Runs, 100 RBI and 100 Walks.  Only three players had more.

Babe Ruth (11), Lou Gehrig (11) and Barry Bonds (10)

 

  1. 521 career HR x 4 bases per HR x 90 feet per base = 187,560 feet.  Or roughly 35.52 Miles.  Thomas’s #35 is retired by the White Sox.

 

  1. Thomas collected his 500th career home run the same day Craig Biggio collected his 3,000th career hit.  June 28, 2007

 

  1. Thomas collected his 300th career home run the same day Wade Boggs collected his 3,000th career hit.  August 7, 1999

 

  1. Thomas hit the last White Sox home run at Old Comiskey Park (9/28/1990) and the first White Sox home run at New Comiskey Park (4/22/1991)

 

  1. Thomas also had the first White Sox home run at five other parks.

Oriole Park at Camden Yards (5/8/1992), Progressive Field (7/21/1994), Rangers Ballpark (5/13/1994), Tropicana Field (4/4/1998) & Minute Maid Park (6/2/2000)

 

  1. In 14 career games on his birthday, Thomas hit .468/.583/.766 with 2 HR, 10 RBI, 22 Hits & 13 Walks

 

  1. From 1951-present, 1,109 players have appeared in at least one game with the White Sox**  One has won a batting title for the White Sox.  Frank Thomas (.347 in 1997)

(prior to Thomas, Luke Appling won two batting titles – 1936 & 1943.  His last game with the Sox was 1950)

                **through May 24, 2018

 

  1. In 1997, Frank Thomas hit .417/.524/.748 in 185 PA with RISP.

He had 39 walks.  Only 14 strikeouts.

 

  1. Frank Thomas had 3 receptions for 45 yards as a Tight End for Auburn’s football team in 1986

 

  1. Thomas’s #35 is retired by the White Sox, but his first career Major League hit came while wearing #15.

 

  1. Had a hit off Charlie Hough (born 1/5/1948) & Felix Hernández (born 4/8/1986)

 

  1. In Thomas’s first 8 MLB seasons (1,076 games), he hit .330/.452/.600 with 879 walks and only 582 strikeouts.  And a 177 wRC+  Mike Trout is in his 8th MLB season.  His career wRC+ is 170

 

  1. Thomas is one of six players in MLB history with 500+ Home Runs and .300 BA, .400 OBP & .500 SLG. The others: Babe Ruth, Manny Ramírez, Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams & Mel Ott

 

  1. Prior to joining the White Sox, Frank Thomas had 112 walks in 109 games with Birmingham in 1990

 

  1. Joe DiMaggio had 361 career home runs.  Frank Thomas had 361 career home runs… against right-handed pitchers alone.

 

  1. Frank Thomas had more career stolen bases (32) than Joe DiMaggio (30)

 

  1. Thomas homered in 28 different MLB ballparks, off 336 different pitchers.

 

  1. The most home runs Thomas hit off a pitcher was 9 off Mike Mussina.

30 hits is the most by Thomas off any pitcher during his career

 

  1. 9 of Thomas’s home runs were off pitchers currently in the Hall of Fame.

5 off Randy Johnson, 2 off Jack Morris, 1 off Pedro Martínez, 1 off Goose Gossage.

 

  1. Thomas homered off 17 different pitchers who won a Cy Young award

(Clemens, Colón, Cone, Hentgen, Hershiser, R. Johnson, P. Martínez, McDowell, Sabathia, Saberhagen, Santana, Sutcliffe, Valenzuela, Viola, Webb, Welch & Zito)

 

  1. Thomas homered off 6 pitchers who threw a perfect game

(Mark Buehrle, David Cone, Dennis Martínez, Kenny Rogers, David Wells & Randy Johnson)

 

  1. Thomas had 1,704 career RBI. 

He drove himself in 521 times.

He drove in exactly 100 different teammates

Most often driven in?  Ray Durham (184 times)

 

  1. 1,047 players had at least 100 career plate appearances at old Comiskey Park.  Frank Thomas had the best on-base percentage of all of them

(.510 OBP in 102 PA)

 

  1. Thomas had a 52-game on-base streak to begin 1996… the streak was 57 games if you included the last 5 games of 1995.

 

  1. In his first 162 career MLB games, Frank Thomas reached base 313 times.

He hit .317/.449/.532 with 110 Runs, 27 HR, 106 RBI, 134 BB, 132 K, 3 HBP

 

  1. Frank Thomas has 5 of the 12 seasons of at least 40 home runs in White Sox history.  Nobody else has more than two. 

 

  1. A Double in his 149th career plate appearance (in his 39th career MLB game) put his career batting average at .303.  That career batting average never fell under .300 again.

 

  1. Frank Thomas has the most career HR by a player named Frank Thomas (521); which is 235 more than the other Frank Thomas, who was the Frank Thomas who played his final MLB game in a Chicago Uniform (5/30/1966 – with the Cubs).

 

  1. Frank Thomas’s first career grand slam (6/24/1991) scored two future Hall of Famers (Thomas & Tim Raines) and two future White Sox managers (Ozzie Guillen & Robin Ventura)

 

  1. Four position players were picked ahead of Frank Thomas in the 1989 MLB Draft.  Two never reached the Majors (Jeff Jackson & Paul Coleman) and the other two combined for 65 career home runs (Tyler Houston & Donald Harris).

 

  1. 508 players had at least 1,000 plate appearances during the 1990s.  Of those 508 the top two in on-base percentage were Frank Thomas (.440) and Barry Bonds (.434)

 

  1. Thomas hit .322/.448/.635 career vs lefties

 

  1. Thomas is the only player in White Sox history with multiple 5-game home run streaks.  Both were in 1994.

 

  1. In 38 career plate appearances against Bartolo Colón, Thomas hit .483/.605/.828 with 2 HR, 14 hits & 9 walks

 

  1. Besides his 448 HR, Thomas also is the White Sox franchise career leader in Runs (1,327), Doubles (447), RBI (1,465), Walks (1,466), OBP (.427 – min 1,500 PA) & SLG (.568 – min 1,500 PA)