White Sox leading the league in more ways than one

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White Sox leading the league in more ways than one

By Paul LaTour
CSNChicago.com

Look up and down the White Sox lineup and youll find somebody who has made a recent contribution with his bat. Thats how well they have been hitting as of late.

There are the obvious ones, of course. Paul Konerko leads the American League with a .381 batting average. Adam Dunn already has 15 home runs, four more than all of last season. A.J. Pierzynski is hitting .472 with three doubles, a triple, three home runs, 10 RBI and eight runs scored in his last nine games.

Beyond those three, Chicago is getting remarkable production from Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza. Viciedo has raised his average from .196 to .252 over the past 11 games, which includes hitting six home runs and 13 RBI while batting .390.

De Aza, who is hitting .326 with 17 runs scored in May, contributed his first career grand slam in Thursdays 11-8 victory over Minnesota.

Overall, the Sox bats have been on a torrid pace the past 11 games. In addition to 24 home runs and scoring more than six runs per game, Chicago hitters are batting .289 collectively.

Eventually it was going to get there, manager Robin Ventura said prior to Saturdays game against Cleveland at U.S. Cellular Field. Its nice. It compliments the pitching and the defense. Once everybody gets going, you feel confident going through that lineup that when you get a couple guys on they are going to knock them in.

The home run explosion has been impressive. The Sox have hit at least one home run in each of their last 11 games, their longest stretch since June 1-12 last season.

You cant go up there trying to hit home runs, but you can try to put good swings on the ball, and if the ball goes out it goes out, Pierzynski said after Friday nights 9-3 victory in the series opener against Cleveland in which the Sox homered three times.

Pierzynski, whose average has gone from .257 to .309 in his last nine games, has already matched his home run total from last season. He now has eight home runs, including one Friday, and 31 RBI.

Hes got more power than you initially look at and see, Ventura said. Hes a big guy. Hes been getting in a good position to hit, and if he hits it, its going to go. I dont know if theres a reason for it, but he looks good at the plate. Hes been consistent, too.

For some perspective on how good the offense has been during this 11-game stretch, Chicago ranks first among the league leaders in four categories, and is top five in two others.

The Sox lead in home runs, slugging percentage, runs per game and runs scored. They are third in average and fifth in extra-base hits.

Recruiting News and Notes: Jeff Thomas releases his Top 5 schools list

Recruiting News and Notes: Jeff Thomas releases his Top 5 schools list

Class 7A IHSA state champion East St. Louis has been a hub of recruiting activity over the past few weeks and will remain busy until National Signing Day on Feb. 1.

East St. Louis All-State safety James Knight (5-foot-10, 198 pounds) gave head coach Lovie Smith and Illinois his verbal commitment on Monday. 

"It's right next to home and I like their coaching staff," Knight said. "I really like coach Smith and their program. It feels like home for me."

Four-star ranked wide receiver Jeff Thomas (5-foot-10, 170 pounds) released his Top 5 schools on Twitter and plans to announce his college decision on Feb. 1.

Thomas made an official visit to Illinois, but canceled a planned visit to Louisville last weekend because of poor weather in the area. Thomas has one more official visit planned to Miami this weekend. 

On Wednesday, East St. Louis two-star ranked quarterback Rey Estes (6-foot-0, 161 pounds) announced that he was giving Minnesota his verbal commitment.
 
Estes was originally committed to Missouri but decided to reopen his recruiting.

[PREPS: Loyola QB takes a different route to college football]

One local player to keep tabs on is Oak Park-River Forest senior wide receiver Jared Scott (6-foot-6, 215 pounds). Scott has been impressive on the hardwood for the Huskies, and has also seen his football recruiting stock take off with a few weeks left before National Signing Day. Scott has added football scholarship offers from Western Michigan and Wyoming, while several FCS schools have shown late recruiting interest.

Johnsburg All-State running back Alex Peete (5-foot-9, 170 pounds) had a handful of DII scholarship offers on the table, but earlier this week decided to give DIII football powerhouse University of Wisconsin-Whitewater his verbal commitment. 

"I just really like the coaches at UW Whitewater," Peete said. "They kept recruiting me hard and I also just feel very comfortable at Whitewater. UWW has a great winning tradition and I want to get a chance to play for national championships. The combination of athletics and academics at Whitewater along with being a bit closer to home really was the biggest difference for me."

Hawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks' bottom six steps up in Colorado

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AP

Hawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks' bottom six steps up in Colorado

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Jamal Mayers discuss the bottom six carrying the Blackhawks to a come-from-behind win over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night.

Later, Mayers weighs in on possible targets with the NHL trade deadline just six weeks away.

Listen to the latest episode of the Hawks Talk Podcast below: