Daniel makes a difference

Tom Batters
Dunlap shortstop Daniel Clements makes a throw to first during a 3-2 win over Pekin last week.

After an injury to one of his infielders two weeks into the season, Dunlap baseball coach Tom Wooden called up sophomore Daniel Clements from the junior varsity team.

Wooden said he hoped Clements would fill in as a “utility infielder,” but he got much more than that.

Clements, a left-handed hitting shortstop, is hitting .397 and has scored 20 runs for the Eagles.

“I had him in football, so I knew he was a good athlete, but he exceeded my expectations,” Wooden said. “He’s had a great year for us.”

Wooden said Clements, who bats second behind Alan Jablonski, solidified the top part of the lineup, and helped spark the Eagles offense.

“He’s a legitimate No. 2 hitter because of his speed. We can do a lot of things with him hitting second. We can hit and run, bunt, or steal bases, and generate some offense at the top.”

Wooden said he is not too worried about the offense heading into the Limestone Regional, which starts May 28.

Jablonski is hitting .383 with eight stolen bases. Zach Simmons is hitting .436 with six homeruns and 24 RBIs as of last week.

“We’re scoring some runs. If we can get some consistent pitching, we’ll be OK.”

Logan Schrader, another sophomore Wooden knows from football, helped in that area last week when he gave up just two runs over seven innings in a 3-2 win against Pekin.

“He has established himself as our No. 1 starter,” Wooden said. “He’s young, but he’s been pitching a lot better late in the season”

Dunlap opens the Regional against Limestone at 4 p.m. May 28.

“There are some good teams in that Regional (Galesburg is the No. 1 seed) followed by Limestone, Dunlap and Peoria Central), but we’re capable of surprising some teams if we continue to hit the ball well and get consistent pitching.”

The winner of the Limestone Regional will advance to the Washington Sectional to face the winner of the Metamora Regional, which includes Peoria Notre Dame and Richwoods.