Crystal Lake South outfielder Jake Bigos received a call from a friend shortly after playing in the Stevenson Showcase in June.
It was former Gators shortstop Chris Hauser, who now plays that position at Saint Joseph’s College, an NCAA Division II school in Rensselaer, Ind. The Pumas coaches were not yet allowed to call Bigos, but Hauser was letting him know they were interested.
From that point on, Saint Joseph’s was No. 1 on Bigos’ list. The speedy left-handed hitter who led off for the Gators’ winningest team in school history committed to the Pumas last week and will sign his national letter of intent in November. Saint Joseph’s was the only school Bigos visited.
“I would have made some other visits, but I liked Saint Joe so much,” Bigos said. “They had pretty much everything I wanted. I was worried that I wouldn’t like it because it’s such a small school. But I loved it. I found out 60 percent of the [1,033] students are athletes.”
Bigos drew interest from D-I schools Wright State and St. Louis University, and from D-II schools Illinois-Springfield, Truman State, Quincy and Winona State.
Bigos hit .403 and played left field for the Gators’ 28-10 team that tied for the Fox Valley Conference Valley Division title with Prairie Ridge and set the school record for victories. He scored 37 runs, hit one home run, drove in 15 and had an on-base percentage of .517. He was a Northwest Herald All-Area honorable-mention selection.
Bigos likely will move to center field next season for the Gators and eventually hopes to occupy that spot for the Pumas.
“This is everything I’ve been working for since Little League,” Bigos said. “I realized I could do this [in college] when I went to my first showcase after my sophomore year and all the coaches are watching you. There’s all that pressure.”
At the Stevenson Showcase, Bigos only got to play one game representing the Fox Valley Conference, but in that game he had a hit, a stolen base and threw out a runner from the outfield.
“I couldn’t be happier for Jake and his family,” South coach Brian Bogda said. “Jake is a special student-athlete that worked very hard in the classroom and on the ballfield to put himself in this position today. I look forward to coaching Jake this spring and watching him continue grow as a ball player in our program.”
Marian’s Hall class: Marian Central will honor its newest Hall of Fame class at Friday’s home football game with Immaculate Conception, which is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start. Five athletes, two teams, one coach and one assistant coach who also has been a staunch Marian supporter through the years.
Wally Bowman (1963), Jim Ringness (1978), Jenny Lada (1998), Scott Simon (2002) and Brittany Wikierak (2002) are the athletes being inducted. The 1994 girls basketball team and 1993 girls track and field team also will be inducted.
Former football coach Steve Patton, who coached the Hurricanes’ last state championship team in 1989, is in this class. Rich O’Connell, an assistant football coach in the 1980s and 1990s, also will be inducted. O’Connell has had five children go through Marian, won a Purple Heart in Vietnam, is the founder of Crystal Lake and Huntley Ready Mix and is currently a director with American Community Bank and Trust.
Bowman was a multi-sport athlete at Marian and played football for four years at Dartmouth. Ringness played football, basketball and baseball for the Hurricanes. Lada was on Marian’s Suburban Catholic Conference and regional cross country champion team that also finished sixth in the Class A State Meet.
Simon was the SCC Player of the Year and Northwest Herald Player of the Year in 2002 in baseball and went on to put his name on several record lists at Northern Illinois University. Wikierak was the Hurricanes’ MVP in volleyball and track, and earned a volleyball scholarship to St. Joseph’s College in Rensselear, Ind.
• Joe Stevenson is the senior sports writer for the Northwest Herald. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You also can follow him on Twitter @nwh_JoePrepZone.