The Marengo Indians opened the defense of their Class 3A Illinois High School Association state title with two straight wins, before dropping an Apr. 2 game to Sterling. They are currently own a 9-2 record, following an Apr. 24 non-conference loss to Harlem, 3-0. These tune-ups on the way to the post-season will help later this this month, and in June.

“We are trying to get a lot of live, and front-toss, pitching in practice,” said Indians head coach Dwain Nance. “That way, our kids are seeing a lot of pitches and learn to recognize their best and worst pitch... being disciplined at the plate is very important. We schedule some very difficult games for a reason. It prepares us for the post-season. In softball, everyone makes the post-season, so it’s good to challenge yourself.”

The 2017 team finished with a 35-6 record including a trip to East Peoria, IL for the championship rounds. The Indians pulled out a 1-0 late-inning win June 9 against Nazareth Academy in the semi-final game, and a 2-0 victory in a similar fashion against the East Peoria Red Raiders June 10, for the title. It was the second top-slot finish in the program’s history, complementing other regional and sectional titles, all under Nance.

“Obviously, winning the state championship (last year) was a huge highlight,” he said. “But one thing I noticed was that team played together, and got along with each other. They built long lasting relationships with each other…that team was close. It’s fun to watch that happen.”

The celebration was somewhat abbreviated, hours after the team got home from Peoria, as a June 11 gas explosion, during the early morning hours, left four homes destroyed, damaged nineteen others, and rendered more than fifty other residences inhabitable, on and around, the 7th Circle neighborhood. Families were left homeless, and some residences are still under repair.

Nance recalled hearing the explosion, and driving there. He said there was relief that the injuries were not more severe and felt badly for the families whose homes were ruined. Team member Anna Walsweer, and others, helped out at the Marengo (Area) Out Reach Enterprises (MORE Center), a non-profit organization providing emergency assistance for needy individuals and families in the Marengo and Union area.

The community pulled together. A benefit wrestling tournament was held later in the month for Indians coach Tim Keefer and his family, who were left homeless by the blast. Nance said, “The Marengo community is a great one,” Nance said. “It does a great job of supporting each other, and it’s a great place to coach and teach at.”

Providing a sports outlet for girls, especially mentoring the game of softball, is important to the fabric of the community, in addition to supplying the Indians teams with potential players when they pass through high school.

 “Our assistant coaches, Rob Jasinski and Wayne Montgomery, and myself, are on the Marengo-Union Girls Softball Board, and Wayne (Montgomery) is the president,” he said. “The high school and MUGS have a great working relationship, and everyone is on the same page. It is a wonderful situation for our program, being in the position we are in. A lot of the softball parents are also on the board, such as Wendy Aubry, Aimee Ritter, John Turn, and Todd Christopher.”

The Indians play in the Kishwaukee River Conference, founded in 2016, on the heels of Woodstock and Woodstock North’s joint 2013 announcement of leaving the Fox Valley Conference to form a new one. Teams from the Big Northern Conference, including Marengo, also joined the aggregation. The powerhouse teams representing all the athletic programs at the various schools translates into one tough schedule.

“For softball, Burlington Central always plays us tough, and the conference championship has been won, either by them or us, for the past 12-15 years,” said Nance. “However, the KRC will be rough this year. All the teams are improved, and bring back some quality players. There’s a lot of good pitching in the conference, and it reminds me a little of when I first got to Marengo…the Big Northern Conference was a tough softball conference.”

In 2017, Marengo was the last team standing in the Class 3A division, from Mc Henry County and in the state. By the end of May, the team will be starting its trek into the post-season, and a possible repeat.


(Apr. 25) Girls Soccer: The Indians lost 6-0 to the Johnsburg Skyhawks. (Apr. 24) Baseball: The Indians (4-9 Overall, 2-5 KRC) dropped a 9-4 game to the Johnsburg Skyhawks. Jake LaSota went 2-3, and Matt Merande picked up 2 RBI. (Apr. 24) Softball: The Indians lost 3-0 to Harlem, with Haley Minogue pitching all 7 innings. Hannah Secor and Grace Houghton each went 2-3.


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