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: Ben Bryant commits to Cincinnati

Recruiting News and Notes: Ben Bryant commits to Cincinnati

Ben Bryant (QB), Lyons Township

Lyons Township senior three-star quarterback Ben Bryant (6-foot-3, 195 pounds), who originally gave Wisconsin his verbal commitment only to have the Badgers rescind his verbal scholarship offer, has given Cincinnati his verbal commitment.

"It was a much harder decision this time around compared to the first time I committed," Bryant said. "When I committed the first time (to Wisconsin) I had two offers. This time around I had a lot of options and some great offers, but Cincinnati is the best place for me."

Bryant is thrilled to have ended his recruiting process again and can now focus on his upcoming senior season while also putting to rest the entire ordeal with Wisconsin.

"I've put the whole Wisconsin deal behind me and I stand my statement that I sent out on my Twitter account and that's all I have to say. I had some great offers and options and it was a great problem to have. I can just focus now on my team this summer and having a great senior season."

Bryant joins Simeon wide receiver Jayshon Jackson and Mount Carmel senior offensive linemen Jeremy Cooper as part of the Bearcats Class of 2018. 

Jeff Griffin (DL), Homewood-Flossmoor

Northern Illinois continues to do well with filling out its Class of 2018. The Huskies added another Chicagoland piece when Homewood-Flossmoor senior defensive linemen Jeff Griffin (6-foot-2, 260 pounds) became the team's ninth in-state commitment and 14th overall pledge.

"I visited NIU (last Saturday) and that visit really sold me on NIU," Griffin said. "I always wanted to stay closer to home for school and once NIU stepped up and offered me it was a hard offer to turn down. After the visit on Saturday I was sold on NIU so I called up the coaches and committed."

Griffin is also hoping to help NIU add a few more pieces from Homewood-Flossmoor's talented senior class.

"I'm definitely already talking to Justin (Hall) and Mario (Wright II) about joining me at NIU."

Seniors' athlete Justin Hall and linebacker Mario Wright II have both listed Northern Illinois as one of their favorite schools this summer. 

[RELATED: Recruiting News and Notes - Jyran Mitchell commits to NIU]

Indiana State recruiting

Indiana State head coach Curt Mallory has been on fire when it comes to the Sycamores recruiting this summer. Mallory, who was a long-time assistant coach at various stops in Illinois, now has an amazing 24 verbal commitments — including two recent additions in Bishop McNamara safety Giavion Mason (6-foot-0, 190 pounds) and Lindblom wide receiver CJ Rutherford (6-foot-0. 170 pounds).

So why the Sycamores?

Rutherford pointed towards the strength of the coaching staff as a big factor in his decision.

"I really love the coaching staff at Indiana State," Rutherford said. "Coach Mallory brought in a staff that has a lot of experience and several of his coaches worked with him when he was at Michigan. The coaches made us feel comfortable and at home at Indiana State and I'm just excited to be a part of helping the football program win."

Recruiting News

Who are the Top 5 uncommitted players remaining in the Class of 2018?

Carterville tight end Luke Ford (6-foot-7, 245 pounds) has offers from literally every Power 5 school in the nation. Ford originally committed to Arkansas.

Oswego DT Noah Shannon (6-foot-2, 290 pounds) was committed to Minnesota but reopened his recruiting process. Shannon has shown heavy interest in Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Indiana and Arkansas.

Bolingbrook DT Dashaun Mallory (6-foot-2, 265 pounds) added a camp offer from Michigan State, and has a Top 3 list of the Spartans, along with Iowa State and Toledo. 

Waubonsie Valley tight end Charles Robinson (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) listed Iowa State, Minnesota and Mississippi State as his Top 3 favorite schools.

Bolingbrook wide receiver I'Shawn Stewart (5-foot-11, 165 pounds) camped earlier this summer with Wisconsin and also made a recent visit to Syracuse. 

Sights and Sounds from Cubs visit to Donald Trump's White House

Sights and Sounds from Cubs visit to Donald Trump's White House

The 45th President of the United States Donald Trump welcomed the 2016 World Series champion Cubs to The White House on Wednesday afternoon.

While attendance was optional due to the Cubs already holding a formal ceremony with former President Barack Obama last January, several Cubs players and manager Joe Maddon attended Wednesday's gathering. 

Check out some of the sights and sounds from the Cubs busy day in D.C.

Vice President Mike Pence gets his own Cubs jersey.

Trump wants to know who the best hitter on the Cubs is so he can pick them up for his fantasy baseball team (we made up that last part).

Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert crashes the party.

The Cubs display a card displaying No. 45 for President Trump.

Who is the Cubs owner in this picture?