CHAMPAIGN – There's a reason baseball isn't a winter sport.
That wasn't always evi-dent Saturday, when self-preservation occasionally took priority over hits, runs and errors.
But Champaign Central coach John Staab this week made sure his team understood that baseball often can be played in winterlike conditions, and that was the case during Saturday's Charlie Due tournament at McKinley Field.
Central handled the conditions best, defeating Oswego East 6-4 in the championship game for its third straight Due title.
Staab prepared his team for Saturday's arctic blast – temperatures in the upper 20s much of the day, with a wind chill in the teens – by practicing outside in the days leading up to the tournament.
And these weren't 30-minute workouts.
"Two hours," Central senior Cam Strang said with a smile.
"If we wouldn't have had a game (Saturday), we would have been inside," Staab said. "We've got a few folks on this team that need to develop a little bit of intestinal fortitude, so that was another reason for the move. They stepped up today. I'm proud of 'em."
Players took unusual steps Saturday to stay warm. A few players in Georgetown-Ridge Farm's 7-4 victory against Springfield Southeast in the third-place game resorted to sweatshirts over their game jerseys. A couple of others sported ski masks.
Central's Eric Wilson, who finished Saturday's two games 5 for 5 with three RBI – kept a small handwarmer in his pocket for those frigid moments in center field.
Wilson was wearing two Under Armour shirts, a turtleneck and his jersey.
"And in the dugout I've got a sweatshirt and a coat," he said.
Wilson said it was the coldest game experience he's ever had.
"You just have to try to play like it's real hot out," Strang said. "That's kind of hard."
Central (8-3-1) managed to do it early in the title game. The Maroons scored three times in the first on RBI singles from Strang and Wilson, with Derek Leemon adding a run-scoring groundout.
They pushed the margin to 5-0 in the third inning on Ben Freeman's single and Leemon's sacrifice fly.
"Everyone came out ready to go in the beginning," Wilson said. "Our bats were good from the start. Getting off to a good start really helped us out because it started getting cold and everyone was wanting to get out of here pretty quick."
Wait. It started to get cold?
"Well, it got colder – if that's possible," Wilson said.
James Katsinas (4-1) pitched five solid innings for the win. Rob Smith and Strang each threw an inning of relief, with Strang earning his second save.
Doug Kyrouac and Aubry Greenberg had two RBI in Central's 8-4 victory against G-RF in the first game.
In girls' soccer:
Danville 4, Eisenhower 2. Brittani Gentry had a goal and an assist to lead the Vikings at Decatur. Natalie Schnelle, Melissa Adams and Brittany Ellis also scored for the Vikings.
M-S 3, Springfield Lanphier 0. Abby Heissler scored a goal and notched an assist as Mahomet-Seymour rolled in Springfield. Carly Cherry and Kara Breedlove also scored for the Bulldogs.
Hillary Veitch made two saves and got her second shutout of the year.
In girls' soccer:
Danville 4, Eisenhower 2. Brittany Gentry had a goal and an assist to lead the Vikings at Decatur. Natalie Schnelle, Melissa Adams and Brittany Ellis also scored for the Vikings.
M-S 3, Springfield Lanphier 0. Abby Heissler scored a goal and notched an assist as Mahomet-Seymour rolled in Springfield. Carly Cherry and Kara Breedlove also scored for the Bulldogs. Hillary Veitch made two saves and got her second shutout of the year.