By BARRY BOTTINO - editorial at nwherald.com

Hampshire grad Goebbert healed, ready for Cape Cod

Former Bears coach Mike Ditka had little affection for the Metrodome in Minneapolis. The White Sox have only rare fond memories there as well.

Hampshire graduate Jake Goebbert now has a painful reminder of the stadium’s quirks, as well.

Goebbert, a junior outfielder at Northwestern,said this week he is close to swinging a bat again for the first time since suffering a lacerated right kidney six weeks ago while the Wildcats were playing against Minnesota.

The injury nearly kept Goebbert, a second-team All-Big Ten performer last season, from playing this summer in the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League, a summer wood-bat league for many of the nation’s top college baseball players.

“I was very concerned,” Goebbert said. “It’s tough to get in (to Cape Cod).”

Goebbert, who was recommended to the league by Northwestern coach Paul Stevens, learned last fall he would play for the Harwich (Mass.) Mariners. But he wasn’t sure he would be able to keep his commitment after the scary injury April 12.

While playing left field, Goebbert was tracking a deep fly ball.

“It’s a FieldTurf field and a white ceiling, so you really have to watch the ball in the air,” he said. “I didn’t feel the warning track and ran into the outfield wall at a dead sprint.”

At first, Goebbert thought he cracked a rib. He remained in the game, then came to bat the next inning and nearly homered. His double high off of the outfield wall led him to exit the game.

“When I got to second base, I knew something else was wrong,” he said. “I couldn’t catch my breath.”

Goebbert said he spent the first week after the injury in bed, and his adjustment back to a normal lifestyle was a painful one.

“I live on the third floor of my building,” he said. “It was tough walking around.”

Goebbert has not swung a bat since the injury but expects to be cleared soon.

“The doctors said it won’t fully heal for six months to a year,” said Goebbert, who batted .280 this season with 10 doubles and 25 RBIs in 30 games. “But I’m able to work out and run again.”

Goebbert plans to leave Evanston after his last final exam June 11 and arrive in time to play in Harwich’s second game of the season June 13. Despite not playing since April, Goebbert expects to see some benefits from his inactivity.

“There are going to be guys (at Cape Cod) who are coming off of playing 60 games, and I’ll be fresh and ready to go,” he said.

Kankakee connection: Marian Central’s Heather Gradishar earned all-tournament honors this week while helping Kankakee Community College to fourth place in the NJCAA Division II national softball tournament in Bloomington.

Gradishar, a freshman pitcher for KCC, tossed a one-hitter with 10 strikeouts in the team’s 4-0, opening-round win against Mineral Area College. In 231⁄3 innings over five games, Gradishar gave up only four earned runs, struck out 23 and walked three.

Fellow KCC freshman Shannon Stipek of Richmond-Burton batted leadoff and played third base. She scored four runs in the tournament and had an RBI single in a 7-5 win against Iowa Central.

Green, IWU finish 5th nationally: Cary-Grove grad Chris Green helped Illinois Wesleyan’s men’s golf team finish fifth in the NCAA Division III nationals last week in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Green, who placed second as an individual at last year’s nationals, shot a four-round total of 298 (75-72-76-75) to tie for 27th. Green helped the Titans jump seven spots as a team from last season’s 12th-place finish.

Among Green’s honors were being named a Cleveland Golf/Srixon All-America Scholar by the Golf Coaches Association of America and earning a spot on the Ping All-Central Region team.

Green also finished ninth individually in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin Tournament to help the Titans win their second consecutive league tourney title.

Missouri Valley star: Creighton sophomore Elliot Soto, a Dundee-Crown grad, was selected as the All-Missouri Valley Conference First-Team shortstop Monday.

Soto ranks second on the team with a .316 average, up from his .272 mark last season as a true freshman. Soto also has 25 RBIs and a team-best 12 stolen bases in 14 attempts.

Soto, who has started every game this season for D-I Creighton (30-24), posted a 23-game hitting streak earlier this season. The school record is 28 games.

Wrestling honor: Harvard grad Adam Schultz, a senior at D-III Concordia (Wis.) University, earned National Wrestling Coaches Association Academic All-America honors this spring for the second time in his career.

Schultz, wrestling at 197 pounds, finished 20-6 this season and stands eighth all-time in school history with 66 career victories.

• Barry Bottino writes a weekly column and a blog about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at BarryOnCampus@hotmail.com and check out his On Campus blog at www.McHenryCountySports.com/blogs/oncampus.

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