Woodstock’s Alex Ferguson will feel gratified when he reflects on this baseball season.
Ferguson was there during some tough times for the Blue Streaks, who won 14 games combined in the two previous years. The senior right-hander has played a major role for Woodstock, which is 14-18 and playing in a sectional for the first time in 22 years.
“There’s no feeling like it,” said Ferguson, who bats leadoff and plays shortstop when he’s not pitching. “It feels great with the group of guys we’ve come up with knowing all the hard work has paid off.”
Woodstock faces Grayslake Central (26-10) at 4 p.m. Wednesday in the Class 3A Marian Central Sectional. The Streaks knocked out Marian, 1-0, and Richmond-Burton, 2-1, to win the Harvard Regional. It’s their first trip to a sectional since 1992, when Woodstock finished third in the Class AA State Tournament.
“I couldn’t be more proud of these guys,” Streaks coach John Oliveira said. “After our loss to Richmond-Burton in the regional [championship] last year, we had the majority of the core coming back and our No. 1 goal, after competing in [the Fox Valley Conference Fox Division] was to win our regional.”
Grayslake Central won the FVC Fox Division and defeated Johnsburg, 5-3, for the Grayslake Central Regional title on Saturday. The Rams likely will throw ace Justin Guryn, a junior left-hander who is 9-3 and picked up both regional wins.
Woodstock will counter with its own ace, Ferguson, who is 5-3 with a 1.65 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 51 innings. Ferguson will pitch at NCAA Division II Minnesota-Duluth next year.
“I’m really excited,” Ferguson said. “I’m honored to pitch in the first sectional game in 22 years.”
Woodstock’s 1992 team was coached by current Marian Central football coach Ed Brucker. Current Woodstock football coach Steve Beard was one of that team’s stars. Long-time Woodstock assistant coach John Theriault, an assistant in 1992, was there Saturday to see the Streaks win another title.
“[Theriault] was pretty happy,” Oliveira said. “His smile was pretty big.”
The Streaks have seniors Ferguson and Jordan Sumner at the top of the lineup, but most of the other players are juniors and sophomores. Austin Butts and Eric Bell, juniors who hit Nos. 3 and 4, are varsity veterans and team leaders.
Oliveira was frustrated that the Streaks have not hit better in the postseason. It will not help that junior third baseman Austin Butts, the No. 3 hitter, will have to sit Wednesday after suffering a concussion. Butts was hit in the face with a line drive in the seventh inning Saturday, but got off the ground and retired the last three hitters for the championship.
After Butts was examined by a doctor, it was determined he had been concussed and the Streaks have to sit him as a precaution. Woodstock lost to the Rams, 4-3 and 20-7 in their two FVC Fox games.
“Our staff has been good,” Oliveira said. “The pitching is the best thing we’re doing right now. The defense has struggled at some points, but we’re figuring some things out now. We should be competitive.”