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Sports editor

Les Winkeler is sports editor and outdoors writer for The Southern Illinoisan.

Streams of unconsciousness from the world of sports:

Miners streak: To paraphrase Harry Doyle in “Major League,” “In case you’ve missed it, the Southern Illinois Miners have picked up a win here and there and are now in contention for a Frontier League playoff berth.”

Tis true.

Just a couple weeks ago it appeared as if the Miners could start making early September tee times. Now, after a 10-game winning streak, the Miners appear poised for a postseason run. The winning streak was ended Sunday, but right on cue, league-leading Florence comes to town.

The Miners are still a game out of the final playoff spot, but they are just three games behind Florence for the West Division lead. Southern Illinois trails Evansville by a game for the final playoff spot, and trail River City by 1.5 games.

To invoke Captain Obvious, this week’s series with Florence is huge.

After a year of injuries and untimely Major League Baseball signings, manager Mike Pinto finally has the roster he wants. There is still plenty of time for the Miners to make their move, particularly with 12 of their last 18 games at home, including six against Evansville and three against Florence.

The Miners’ fate is in their hands. You can’t ask for more than that.

Gwen Berry: Former SIU hammer throwers have a way of keeping themselves in the news.

About 10 days after Deanna Price set a new American record in the event, Gwen Berry took first place in the Pan Am Games, throwing the hammer 244.8 feet. Price recently set the American record at 256-8. And, the two have been taking turns bettering each other.

Berry also got some attention for raising her fist near the end of the national anthem during the medal ceremony, protesting the current racial climate in America.

“It’s too important to not say something,” Berry told USA Today. “Something has to be said. If nothing is said, nothing will be done, and nothing will be fixed, and nothing will be changed.”

She will draw criticism for her actions. However, you don’t give up your right to free speech when you enter the athletic arena. Athletes have a platform that can allow them to make a difference in our society.

That is just as important as throwing the hammer 244.8 feet.

Grand American: I enjoyed talking to Staunton’s Bob Fritz after he won the Grand American Handicap Saturday. The Grand American Handicap in the most prestigious title in the world’s largest trap shooting event.

Before I could ask the first question, Fritz said, “I shot out of my head today.”

And, he was quite candid when asked if he’d sleep Saturday night. He said there wouldn’t be a problem.

“I’m going home to have a couple Scotch and sodas,” he said.

Fritz noted during the interview that he is an assistant coach for Staunton High School’s trap team. The Grand American victory probably makes him the most over-qualified assistant trapshooting coach in Illinois.

His name on the Grand American trophy will certainly boost his credibility with the team.

St. Louis Cardinals: Keep playing the kids.

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LES WINKELER is the sports editor for Southern Illinoisan. Contact him at les.winkeler@thesouthern.com, or call 618-351-5088 / On Twitter @LesWinkeler.

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