McAuliffe nice start in ‘indy’ ball

North Reading’s Ryan McAuliffe has not given up on his major league dreams. Not even close. The 23-year-old North Reading native recently signed with the Southern Illinois Miners of the Frontier League, a 10-team independent pro baseball league that often feeds Minor League Baseball.

McAuliffe, who starred as a starting pitcher at both Northern Essex Community College and St. John’s University in Queens, N.Y., got off to a nice start on Tuesday, going five innings, allowing just one hit and no earned runs.

McAuliffe is 6-foot-4 and throws the ball consistently in the low 90s. He was released by the N.Y. Mets organization last fall. We expect, with more performances like the recent one, that his pro career has some legs.

Stay tuned.

Steve Connors passes

If you play or watch basketball in the Merrimack Valley, you probably knew Steve Connors, a long-time referee based in North Andover. Tragically, Connors, a married father of two daughters, passed away from a heart attack while on a family vacation.

While Connors refereed high school games for boys and girls, he was a staple at youth basketball in the area for more than two decades.

He will be missed.

Gilles Gilbert in Methuen

Speaking of brilliant Boston Bruins goalies, former B’s netminder Gilles Gilbert will be in Methuen on Sunday signing autographs.

Gilbert will be at the Gaythorne Knights of Columbus at 462 Broadway Street signing from 10 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. Autographs are $13 each two for $25.

The monthly card show hours are from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

Groveland’s Knight goes out strong

Merrimack College senior golfing sensation Krystal Knight, of Groveland, was within five strokes of a national title after two rounds and ultimately finished among the top-20 players in the country after wrapping up an unprecedented career as the top golfer in the history of the Merrimack College women’s golf program.

Knight, who became only the second student-athlete in school history to qualify as an individual for the NCAA Division II Women’s Golf Championship, birdied the last hole of her Merrimack tenure to round out the three-day national championship tournament at PGA National in Palm Beach Springs, Florida. The senior was in sixth place after 18 holes and tied for seventh - just five strokes off the lead - after two rounds of play. She ultimately tied for 19th overall to potentially earn All-America honors, which would make her the first Warrior to do so ever.