Three former Daily Herald all-area girls basketball standouts are playing in the Final Four.
South Elgin alum Cortney Kumerow, Bartlett graduate Lisa Palmer and Crystal Lake South product Katie Burton are members of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater women's basketball team that will play in the NCAA Division III Final Four this weekend at Hope College in Holland, Mich.
All three players had key roles in Whitewater advancing to the national semifinals.
Kumerow, a 6-foot-1 senior center, had team highs of 18 points and 13 rebounds in Whitewater's playoff-opening victory over Wisconsin Lutheran. Palmer, a 5-11 freshman forward, had 2 points and 9 rebounds and Burton, a 5-10 junior guard, added 4 points.
In the team's 71-51 win over Carthage, Kumerow had 8 points and 8 rebounds, while Palmer had 2 points and 4 rebounds.
Palmer had 6 points and 12 rebounds in Whitewater's 76-63 win over Simpson College. Kumerow added 6 points and 6 rebounds.
Kumerow then had 14 points and 10 rebounds in the team's 65-60 win over Hope that sent it to the NCAA national semifinals. Palmer added 8 rebounds and Burton had 7 points and 3 rebounds.
In 31 games this year, Kumerow is leading Whitewater in both scoring (13.1 points per game) and rebounding (7.9 per game). She's shooting .498 from the field and an impressive .848 from the free-throw line (123 of 145). She also has 46 blocked shots.
Palmer is averaging 5.7 points and 6.7 rebounds in 31 games (both Palmer and Kumerow have started 30 games this year). She's shooting .483 from the field and has 23 steals.
Whitewater brings a 25-6 mark into its semifinal game Friday against Amherst College, the 2011 NCAA Division III champions. The Jeffs are 30-1 and shared the New England Small College Athletic Conference regular-season title and won their fourth conference tournament title in a row. Whitewater won a regular-season conference title and finished second in its conference tournament.
Kay earns honor: Bartlett graduate Elizabeth Kay is tearing it up in her senior season on the Illinois State University softball team.
Kay recently earned her second Missouri Valley Conference player of the week accolade in the young 2013 season. It was the third time she's earned the honor in her career.
Kay helped the Redbirds go 2-2 at last weekend's Louisville Red & Black Classic, going 7-for-11 with 8 RBI, 6 walks, 2 doubles and a run scored. She registered a .765 on-base percentage in the four games.
After going 0-for-3 against nationally ranked Michigan, Kay went 4-for-5 against Austin Peay with a career-high-tying 5 RBI. The next day she reached base in all 9 plate appearances, going a combined 4-for-4 with 5 walks and 3 RBI in ISU's win over Miami of Ohio and a loss to No. 13 Louisville.
Kay's .363 average, 5 homers and 24 RBI all lead ISU this season.
"I worked on my swing in the offseason trying to get it back to where it was so I can have a successful senior season," said Kay earlier this week. "I usually start off slower, but this year I wanted to start off on a good note. I'm seeing the ball well right now and I'm able to make adjustments so I can get hits. I worked on basic fundamental stuff that needed to be fixed such as using my legs more, that kind of stuff."
Kay noted surprise would not be the proper word to describe how she feels about her start.
"It's the way I expect myself to play," she said. "I want to help the team out the best I can and I knew I had to step it up a little bit."
Kay said the one highlight that sticks out in her mind so far this year came in a game against Louisiana-Lafayette.
"I hit a homer and tied up the game. We ended up winning," said Kay.
In terms of career numbers, Kay continues to rise in the program's record books. She ranks in the Top 15 all-time in home runs (third with 38), RBI (fourth with 146), total bases (sixth with 309), slugging percentage (10th with .528), runs scored (10th with 105) and hits (15th with 165). She ranks 12th all-time in games started at 190 and is 33 shy of the program record (223) with 30 scheduled games left not counting the postseason.
"I feel like I've had a pretty good career here," she said. "I know this is my last season that I will play softball. I definitely want to go out on a high note."
Kay is studying physical education at ISU and would like to be a PE teacher. She'll start student teaching next spring. She's not sure what grade level she wants to teach yet, but is definitely interested in also pursuing coaching opportunities.
Looking back at her career at ISU, Kay is thankful for the traveling aspect.
"I have to say the traveling has been nice," she said. "I've been able to experience a lot of things I wouldn't have been able to experience if I did not get to play at this level."
ISU opens the home portion of its season this weekend. The Redbirds went 13-12 to start the year in games played either on the road or at neutral sites.
"Our team is looking pretty good," she said. "We're able to hit throughout our lineup."
Bee earns all-American status: Larkin graduate Nick Bee is a member of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater men's track and field team. Bee recently earned NCAA Division III all-American status as part of Whitewater's 4 X 400 relay team that finished fourth at the recent NCAA Division III indoor championships at North Central College in Naperville.
Bee was part of a Whitewater quartet that ran a school-record 3:17.18 in the championships. The relay team qualified for the national finals with a then-school record of 3:17.41.
Hardie at Winona State: Crystal Lake South graduate Kaitlin Hardie is off to a strong start for the Winona State University softball team. To start the week Hardie is hitting .438 through the team's first 16 games. She has 14 hits in 32 at-bats and has scored 9 runs. She has 2 doubles, 1 homer and 14 RBI. Hardie is slugging .594 with a .512 on-base percentage. She also has 2 sacrifice flies.
Hardie belted a grand slam in Winona's 15-2 win over Concordia (NY).
Winona is 13-3 through its first 16 contests.
Harris at Villanova: Streamwood graduate and former Daily Herald All-Area honorary co-captain Josh Harris is a pitcher on the Villanova University baseball team.
Harris recently threw a strong game against a Florida State team that was ranked No. 6 in the country at the time and was 10-0 after a 2-1 win over Villanova. Harris threw 7 innings and allowed only 6 hits and 1 earned run. He struck out two and walked none.
To start the week, Harris is 2-1 with a 1.35 in 3 starts. In 20 innings he has allowed 19 hits and 3 earned runs. He has 12 strikeouts against only 3 walks.
In other earlier action, Villanova faced a Valparaiso team that featured fellow Streamwood alum Dalton Lundeen on the mound. Lundeen worked the first 4.2 innings and struck out five. Valpo won the game 7-6. Harris did not pitch in that contest.
Off at College wants your help: Send information and/or statistics on Fox Valley area athletes playing collegiately to Mike Miazga at firstname.lastname@example.org.