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Baseball: Scouting DuPage County

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Addison Trail

Coach: Steve Gilliam.

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Last year: 16-18, 8-10, fifth in West Suburban Gold; lost 3-2 to Glenbard North in Class 4A Wheaton North regional semifinals.

Top players: Anthony Catanese, sr., SS; Greg Schultz, sr., P-2B; Mike Imperiale, sr., P-1B; Scott Babica, sr., OF-P; Anthony Kalbas, sr., P-IF; Trevor Bermingham, sr., OF-P; Nick Rybarczyk, jr., C; Jordan Garcia, jr., 3B-OF; Brad Schonder, jr., 3B.

Scouting report: If you're looking for a dark horse in the Gold, you might want to look at the Blazers. They return seven starters led by Catanese, an All-Area returner who hit .450 with 39 runs scored, and Imperiale, who drove in a team-high 27 runs. Four players return at least 70 at-bats. Catanese and Babica combined for 43 steals at the top of the order. Schultz was second on last year's team with 46 innings pitched, while Imperiale notched a team-high 5 wins. If Bermingham and Kalbas add depth to staff, the Blazers will offer a solid conference rotation. "Experience is huge with us because we're past the learning," Gilliam said. "Hopefully, we can take advantage of it."

Benet

Coach: Scott Lawler.

Last year: 16-19, 6-10, seventh in East Suburban Catholic Conference; lost 3-0 to Providence in Class 4A Benet regional final.

Top players: Sam Santa Maria, sr., 3B-P; Pat McInerney, jr., P-1B; Chris Stout, sr., 2B; Andrew Mogni, sr., Bobby Hayes, sr., P; Chris Sanderson, sr., P; OF-P; Kevin Jendra, jr., C-OF; Chris Whelan, so., SS-P; Joe Boyle, so., 2B-OF; Jon Kruppe, fr., P-Util.; Greg Arend, sr., P; Chris Seiboldt, sr., OF.

Scouting report: Lawler -- a former college coach and the son of Naperville Central coaching legend Phil Lawler, who passed away in 2010 -- takes the helm of a team coming off a rare down season. Health is an issue as Santa Maria and McInerney, who missed all of last season, await a full campaign on the field. Both players figure greatly in Benet's plans in the middle of the order. Mogni hit .391, Stout .370 and Jendra .349, but the key will be Whelan at the top and a healthy lineup. Sanderson won 5 games in 53 innings while Hayes returns 4 wins. McInerney adds a big boost to the rotation. "We don't have a superstar, but we have a lot of good players," Lawler said.

Downers North

Coach: Chad Isaacson.

Last year: 13-22, 9-9, third in West Suburban Silver; lost in 17-7 to Naperville North in Class 4A Plainfield South regional quarterfinals.

Top players: David Wilk, P-OF, sr.; Matt Underdown, sr., OF-P; Pat Lowry, sr., C; Troy Southard, jr., P-3B; Mike McConaughy, sr., IF; Conner Kopac, jr., SS; Joe Provenzano, so., 2B; Mike O'Malley, jr., P; Nick Keene, so., 1B; Jack Goergen, jr., 1B-3B; James Sheldon, jr., OF; David Henson, jr., IF.

Scouting report: The Trojans will try to turn around last season's record with a mix of experience and inexperience. Wilk, who went 5-2 with a 3.10 ERA, and Southard are the lone pitchers returning significant innings. O'Malley and Underdown are two of the candidates bolstering the staff. The good news comes in the lineup with the return of Underdown, who stole 33 bases, Southard, who hit .385, Wilk and Lowry. A deep roster, including a pair of sophomores, brings flexibility throughout the lineup. "We've got a lot of depth that we didn't have last year," Isaacson said. "There's pretty good balance throughout the team."

Downers South

Coach: Darren Orel.

Last year: 25-14, 12-6, third in West Suburban Gold; lost 12-3 to Providence in Class 4A Neuqua Valley sectional final.

Top players: Nick Vanek, sr., 1B-P; Zach Burdi, jr., P-OF; Brian Glowicki, jr., P; Danny Mayer, jr., P-Util.; Zach Taylor, so., P; Joe Becht, so., P; Anthony Vattimo, so., C; Javier Martinez, jr., C; Brett Bialek, sr., 3B-DH; Travis Hill, sr., OF.

Scouting report: With so many elements graduated from last year's sectional finalist, questions abound. There's plenty remaining, though, to keep the Mustangs a Gold favorite. Vanek was all-conference last year after hitting .336 with 31 RBI and going 5-2 on the mound. Glowicki pitched key innings as a sophomore, and he's backed by hard-throwing Burdi and Mayer. Very little hitting returns beyond Vanek. Small ball will start with speed at the top behind Burdi and Becht. Mayer and Bialek need to add pop behind Vanek in the heart of the order. Inexperience also brings questions to the defense. "We'll have some good pitching, but at the same time we won't have the hitting we've had in past years," Orel said.

Fenton

Coach: Dave Schwabe.

Last year: 6-26, 4-14, seventh in Metro Suburban Conference; lost 15-4 to Montini in Class 3A Glenbard South regional quarterfinals.

Top players: Rigo Trujillo, sr., OF-P; Marcel Soto, sr., P; Alex Lake, sr., 3B-1B; Ricky Villegas, sr., P; Roman Castellanos, sr., C; Augie Castellanos, sr., OF; Colin Wallace, sr., SS; Jeremy Shimanek, sr., 1B; Alex Cowan, so., 2B; Hector Irizary, so., OF; Jax Castellanos, so., 3B; Alan Geneva, sr., OF; Luis Soto, jr., C-P; Joe Butz, sr., IF-OF.

Scouting report: First-year coach Schwabe aims to bring stability to a program that's seen numerous coaches in recent years. Schwabe got off to a great start by recruiting new players to the team, bringing much-needed depth to the program. Trujillo and Augie Castellanos bring back 70 innings pitched, but they'll need help beyond the experience Villegas adds. Wallace and Roman and Augie Castellanos offer base-stealing threats at the top of the order. Roman Castellanos also has some power. "With the group we have this year there's no excuse not to be in every game," Schwabe said.

Glenbard East

Coach: Joel Pelland.

Last year: 12-19, 8-12, fifth in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 10-2 to St. Charles East in Class 4A Geneva regional semifinals.

Top players: Pat Walsh, sr., P-SS; Chris Milligan, sr., C; Nick Vichio, jr., P-IF; Zac Sadowski, sr., IF-P; Mike Byrne, sr., IF-P; Cody Hallcox, sr., P; Joe Plimmer, sr., OF; John Nebbia, sr., P; Yoanny Gonzalez, jr., IF; Greg Ludwig, jr., IF-OF; Danny Ryan, jr., IF-P; D.J. Spears, jr., IF-P; Joe Kotch, jr., OF; Mike Hanson, jr., OF-P.

Scouting report: Former Glenbard North pitching coach Pelland inherits a team with tremendous success in its past. The juniors claimed the sophomore DVC title with two players up on varsity and the Rams won 22 summer games. Walsh went 4-4 with a 1.84 ERA last year and is backed by Spears, Vichio and Hanson as possible conference pitchers. The Rams need big improvement at the plate this season, and it starts with Walsh, Milligan, Kotch and Ludwig. If the younger players step up, the Rams should be competitive in the DVC. "We had a great summer, so I'm really looking forward to see how that carries over," Pelland said.

Glenbard North

Coach: Rich Smelko.

Last year: 23-12, 14-7, tied for second in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 3-2 to Lyons Twp. in Class 4A St. Charles North sectional semifinals.

Top players: Ryan Gallagher, sr., OF; Bryan Polowy, sr., P-IF; Matt Frawley, jr., P-OF; Josh Shine, sr., OF; Ryan Tintera, sr., 1B-P; Logan Henshall, sr., P; Ken Trezak, sr., OF; Mike Rostine, sr., C; Matt Albin, so., SS-P; Jeff LaPage, jr., C-IF; Adam Villanueva, jr., OF-P; Brandon Kressner, jr., IF.

Scouting report: The Panthers may not have the dominant arm of graduated Andrew Bergmann, but Frawley, Polowy and Albin give the team a strong conference rotation. Frawley in particular returns a bunch of experience with 41 innings from last year. Henshall was a solid reliever in 16 innings. Given the unknowns in the lineup, the Panthers need all the pitching they can get. Gallagher, who hit .360 with 21 RBI, and Shine represent the lone hitters with at least 50 at-bats last year. Anticipated solid defense is a must. "Somehow we've got to find a way to swing the bats this year," Smelko said.

Glenbard South

Coach: Mike Riley.

Last year: 19-13, 14-4, second in Metro Suburban Conference; lost 6-0 to St. Francis in Class 3A Glenbard South regional semifinals.

Top players: Mitch Gasbarro, sr., SS; Zach Bava, sr., C; Doren Blake, sr., 1B; Carl Sanders, sr., OF; Ethan Gasbarro, jr., P-IF; Roger Dyrda, sr., P-OF; Justin Joseph, jr., OF-2B; Brian Suffern, sr., P; Tony Tenuta, jr., P-3B.

Scouting report: After missing much of last season due to injury, Eastern Illinois-bound Mitch Gasbarro returns to a team that looks solid in all phases. Offensive and defensive strength spreads up the middle with Bava -- an All-Area pick who batted .396 with 30 RBI -- the Gasbarros and Sanders in center field. Blake returns a .376 average. Suffern was immensely important on the mound last season, going 7-1 with a 2.17 ERA. Dyrda, Ethan Gasbarro and Tenuta give the Raiders a pitching staff fully capable of winning the Metro Suburban and finding postseason success as they play host to a 3A sectional. "If we're able to bunt and hit and run and create some runs, I think we could be pretty tough," Riley said.

Glenbard West

Coach: Brian Wojtun.

Last year: 19-19, 7-11, fifth in West Suburban Silver; lost 7-2 to Lyons Twp. in Class 4A St. Charles North sectional final.

Top players: Myles Purdom, sr., 2B; Ryan Kavanaugh, sr., OF-P; Tyler Curtis, sr., P-OF; Mitch Monnochio, jr., 3B; Mark Terwilliger, sr., C; Hayden Carlson, so., SS-P; Grant Greeno, so., 1B-P; Tyler Dayton, jr., P-Util.

Scouting report: There's tremendous momentum in the Hilltoppers' program after last season's surprise run to the sectional final. Now the plan's to build on it. While Glenbard West has some holes to fill, plenty of talent remains. Purdom's a three-year player returning to the top of the lineup, and Curtis batted .350 with 19 RBI. Curtis and Kavanaugh, who hit .369, form the 1-2 punch in the pitching rotation after they each notched 3 wins last year. They should keep opposing offenses at bay, but can the Hilltoppers create runs themselves? It'll be critical in fulfilling their hopes of making a jump in the standings of an always-tough Silver field. "They really want to build on what we did last year," Wojtun said.

Hinsdale Central

Coach: Justin Cronin.

Last year: 14-20, 8-10, fourth in West Suburban Silver; lost 8-3 to Naperville Central in class 4A Hinsdale Central regional semifinals.

Top players: Adam Dressler, jr., P-SS; Sam Lucente, sr., SS-2B-P; Sam Burnett, sr., P-1B; Tom Bieber, sr., P-1B; Matt Silk, jr., IF; Aaron Walsh, jr., P; Bobby Skogsbergh, jr., 3B-DH; Tom Delzenero, sr., OF; Will Howson, sr., OF.

Scouting report: With Dressler, Lucente and others, the Red Devils have a nice core of talent back from last season. Lucente's a returning all-Silver honoree who hit .362 with 17 RBI. Dressler enjoyed a tremendous sophomore year by hitting .462 and leading the pitchers with 5 wins and a 2.02 ERA. Look for Dressler to lock down the role of staff ace and the three spot in the lineup. Among 11 pitchers, Bieber, Burnett, Lucente and Walsh need to emerge from the pack for Hinsdale Central to be solid in conference. Good speed in the lineup starts with Delzenero in the leadoff spot. "We showed glimpses last year, but now we want to pull it all together," Cronin said.

Hinsdale South

Coach: Paul Hoel.

Last year: 18-16, 13-5, second in West Suburban Gold; lost 12-0 to Benet in Class 4A Benet regional semifinals.

Top players: Emmanuel Morris, sr., P-C-IF; P.J. Schuster, sr., P-1B-3B; Sean Beesley, sr., P-OF; Mitch Duckhorn, sr., 1B-3B; Kyle Nelson, sr., P-Util.; Dan Foody, sr., 2B; Justin Chappell, sr., OF; Brett Kerstein, sr., P; Alex Karban, sr., C; D.J. Deolitsis, jr., OF; Jerry Stoltz, jr., SS; Don Buonavolanto, so., IF.

Scouting report: Hoel, who coached the Hornets to a sectional championship in 2004, returns to the helm after taking time off to coach his son. Hoel's welcomed back with a team that will be among the Gold favorites. Morris was an All-Area pick last season after batting .392 with 36 RBI. Able to play just about anywhere, he'll be one of the team's top pitchers. Schuster and Beesley also head a list of 11 pitchers on a deep staff. Between Beesley, who hit .376, Morris and Deolitsis, this team will fly on the bases. The hit and run and bunt game will be prominent as the Hornets use small ball to create runs. "This has the potential to be a pretty good group," Hoel said.

Immaculate Conception

Coach: Dan Holleman.

Last year: 9-19, 4-12, fifth in Suburban Christian Gold; lost 6-5 to Walther Lutheran in Class 2A Immaculate Conception regional final.

Top players: Dan Ribando, sr., OF; Charlie Pulkownik, sr., OF-P; Clark Brinkman, so., OF-P; Brian Harvey, sr., SS-P; James Peachey, sr., 1B; Dylan D'Angelo, sr., C; Nick Mrugacz, sr., 2B-3B; Jackson Faut, sr., 1B-3B-P; Cruz Ortega, jr., 3B-P; Danny D'Angelo, jr., 2B-SS.

Scouting report: Seven starters -- including all-conference picks Ribando and Brinkman -- are back as the Knights try to regain the form that earned them a fourth-place Class 2A trophy two years ago. Good starting pitching runs deep with Faut, Harvey, Brinkman and Ortega. The Knights also have the luxury of a closer in Pulkownik. About 120 total innings return from last season. The Knights hit .275 and lost Jose Godinez to graduation, but the rest of the top half of the batting order is back with hopes of vast improvement at the plate. Eighty-six RBI return to a strong contact-hitting lineup. "I think our experience is really going to help us," Holleman said.

Lake Park

Coach: Dan Colucci.

Last year: 22-14, 15-10, fourth in Upstate Eight River; lost 5-4 to Geneva in Class 4A Geneva regional semifinals.

Top players: Christian Taugner, jr., P-3B; Mark Pall, jr., P; Eric Vatch, jr., P-Util.; Jeremy Olenek, sr., P; Nick Turner, sr., OF; John Schram, sr., 1B; Tom Spear, jr., C; Max Boryszewski, sr., OF; Nico Chaidez, sr., SS; Ryan Castello, sr., 3B-P; Anthony Gallina, so., OF; Mike Latoria, sr., P.

Scouting report: Three junior pitchers -- Taugner, Pall and Vatch -- return a combined 12-1 record from last season and the Lancers return 17 wins overall. Needless to say, success this season will spawn from experienced pitching that includes a senior in Olenek. Some infield tweaking is necessary due to graduation, including Schram's shift from catcher to first base. That'll move Spear behind the plate. The details of the lineup are still a bit of an unknown but expect to see Spear, who hit .329, Turner, who hit .320, and Olenek to be at the top. "With the players we have coming back on the mound, that's definitely going to be a strength for us," Colucci said.

Lisle

Coach: Pete Meyer.

Last year: 21-12, 8-8, fourth in Interstate Eight Conference; lost 3-2 to Aurora Christian in Class 2A Lisle regional final.

Top players: Ty Howell, sr., 1B-P; Kazim Khan, sr., P-C-OF; Ryan Van Volkenburg, jr., P-OF, Jared Jayne, sr., SS-P; Brian Czyl, jr., IF-C; Nick Olson, sr., OF-P; Alex Ventrella, jr., P; Kevin Coppin, so., Util.

Scouting report: The bad news is the Lions don't have a No. 1 pitcher. The good news is that Meyer believes he might have five of them. While none may be dominant, the group as a whole has the potential to claim an IEC title and work toward postseason success. Khan, Van Volkenburg, twice all-IEC, and Olson return 14 wins and Lisle also gets a boost from Jayne, a Montini transfer. Olson hit .398 with 22 RBI while Van Volkenburg also hit .398. Jayne, Howell and Czyl help form a formidable batting order. A key will be the Lions' flexibility. They must smoothly shuffle the defense depending on who's pitching. "We should have a pretty good hitting team and a good pitching team," Meyer said. "I'm hopeful that the defense will also be solid for us."

Metea Valley

Coach: Craig Tomczak.

Last year: 14-16, 9-14, fifth in Upstate Eight River; lost 6-1 to Providence in Class 4A Benet regional semifinals.

Top players: Ryan Solomon, sr., OF-P; Kenny Obendorf, sr., SS-P; Tom Bolle, sr., P; Billy Sheeren, sr., P; Will Doiron, sr., OF-P; Mike Fitzgerald, jr., 3B-1B; Stephen Rueda, sr., C; Austin Kinnavy, sr. C; Andrew Fox, OF, jr.; Matt Karlins, jr., P.

Scouting report: After winning five of their first six games as a varsity program last season, the Mustangs faded a bit. The entire team returns with plans on reversing that trend. A hurdle, however, exists with Solomon and Obendorf coming off an extended basketball season. Once they're fully in the fold -- highlighted by Solomon's .460 batting average as a junior and Obendorf's ability to get on base from the leadoff spot -- the lineup will be tough. Fitzgerald led the team with 5 homers and 25 RBI. Pitchers Bolle, who posted a 2.90 ERA, and Sheeren bring back 5 wins and 2 saves. "It's been a great experience," Tomczak said. "We're building a foundation, but hopefully we've learned how to finish games."

Montini

Coach: Bob Landi.

Last year: 18-14, 6-10, fifth in Suburban Christian Blue; lost 3-2 to St. Francis in Class 3A Glenbard South regional final.

Top players: Ben Dobosenski, jr., P-1B; Kurtis Ligocki, sr., P-1B-OF; Chris Bartosz, jr., P-3B; Mike Mangialardi, sr., P-OF; Eric Frontzak, so., P; Tyler Quick, so., P-IF; Eddie Bava, so., SS; Austin Kline, so., Util.; Chris Lentine, sr., OF; Joe Birholtz, sr., OF.

Scouting report: First-year coach Landi may be Montini's athletic director, but he also played for Lewis University's national championship team in 1974 and has been a coach at various levels for decades. He steps in for Bill Leeberg, who retired after last season. The first order of business is overcoming graduation losses and the loss of two starters to transfer. A big chunk of pitching is back headed by Dobosenski, who won 6 games with a 2.18 ERA. Ligocki, Bartosz and Mangialardi fill the gaps caused by graduation in the rotation. The lineup took the main hit. Dobosenski brings back a .295 average with 13 RBI. "If we play good defense behind our pitchers, we'll be OK," Landi said.

Naperville Central

Coach: Mike Stock.

Last year: 21-13, 14-7, tied for second in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 3-1 to Downers South in Class 4A Hinsdale Central regional final.

Top players: Ian Lewandowski, sr., P-3B; Bryce Kirk, sr., OF; Nick Ryan, jr., SS; Cody Campbell, jr., P-OF; Nick Lopez, jr., 2B; Kevin Linne, sr., OF; Brian Schiemann, jr., C; Sean Goblet, sr., P; Jim Nashert, jr., P-OF; Ross Murphy, sr., OF; Jeff Schank, jr., P-1B; Matt Hay, sr., P; Nolan Bialek, sr., 2B.

Scouting report: Stock takes the helm from retired Bill Seiple, who won two state titles with the Redhawks. This is another strong team bolstered by newcomers. Lewandowski's a mainstay after he went 7-2 with a 1.51 ERA. He's joined by a transfer in Campbell, who's expected to be a co-ace. The Redhawks have plenty of arms among Schank, Nashert, Goblet and Hay, who missed last year with injury. Ryan also missed last season with an injury, but he's back at shortstop. Lewandowski, who hit .408, Nashert and Murphy return averages above .300. "I really like the fact that we have a lot of athletes," Stock said.

Naperville North

Coach: Carl Hunckler.

Last year: 11-20, 7-14, sixth in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 9-2 to Plainfield North in Class 4A Plainfield South regional semifinals.

Top players: Mariano Long, P-OF, sr.; Nick Solak, jr., 2B; Ian Gustafson, jr., P; Conner Adamski, sr., 3B; Tyler Gehr, sr., OF; Kevin Walsh, sr., P; Kevin Garon, sr., P; Tyler Hogan, sr., C; Alex Moss, sr., 1B; Marques Winick, sr., OF; Mike Laurenzo, so., SS-P.

Scouting report: By the end of the season, the Huskies likely will deserve the most improved award. Long, committed to the Air Force Academy, is a returning All-Area player who hit .434 and served as the team's ace with a 5-3 record and 2.45 ERA. Solak is committed to Louisville as a junior and Hogan, bound for Western Kentucky, returns after missing much of last season due to injury. Gehr hit .359, Winick batted .357 and Adamski hit .312. All the lineup needs is a steady leadoff man. Gustafson, Garon and Walsh back Long in the rotation. "We have a lot of seniors that played a lot last year," Hunckler said. "I think we can compete if some of our pitchers are able to step up."

Neuqua Valley

Coach: Robin Renner.

Last year: 25-11, 13-9, third in Upstate Eight River; lost 5-2 to Providence in Class 4A Neuqua Valley sectional semifinals.

Top players: Jack Amaro, sr., OF; Nick Iarrobino, sr., OF; Tanner Giesel, sr., SS; Nick Blackburn, sr., P-1B; Dylan Goss, jr., C; David Gerber, jr., P; Jeff Evak, jr., OF; Danny Mokrzyki, jr., P; Cody Coll, jr., P; Joe Grabarits, sr., DH; Matt Wollnik, jr., 2B; Drew Sterioti, jr., 3B.

Scouting report: Anchored by seniors like Purdue-bound Amaro, All-Area returner Giesel and pitching ace Blackburn, the Wildcats are about to receive a huge boost from a talented junior class. Combined they advanced to last summer's Elite Eight. Iarrobino batted .412 while Giesel hit .422 with 23 RBI. Amaro added a .396 average. Expect offensive contributions from Goss, Wollnik, Evak and Grabarits. Blackburn went 4-3 last year in 53 innings pitched. Gerber, Mokrzyki and Coll pitched well in the summer. "Our junior class is as good as we've had," Renner said. "It's a great mix of juniors and seniors. This season's very important to them."

St. Francis

Coach: Rich Janor.

Last year: 25-13, 10-5, third in Suburban Christian Blue; lost 5-4 to Nazareth in Class 3A North Central College supersectional.

Top players: Eric Bacon, sr., P-OF; Tom Ameche, sr., SS-P; Jack Petrando, jr., P-3B; Lonnie Hicks, sr., 1B; Austin Wilkens, sr., P-IF; P.J. Preusser, sr., OF; David Fisher, sr., 2B; Andrew Brundage, jr., P; Jack Piotrowski, jr., P; Brett Jungles, jr., C; Alex Alcantara, jr., OF; Josh Croci, jr., DH.

Scouting report: The bulk of last season's sectional title team graduated, including the Spartans' top pitchers. Bacon, who went 4-3, is the lone returner with varsity experience on the mound. Petrando, the team's top hitter, also will be counted on to pitch well. He hit a home run in his first at-bat in the playoffs last season, and his power is backed by Hicks at cleanup. Jungles is slated to lead off while Ameche is one of the few returning starters. Janor is hopeful last year's playoff run provided invaluable experience to this year's group. "They got a taste of it last year and they want to get back to that level," Janor said.

Timothy Christian

Coach: Jim Snoeyink.

Last year: 8-19, 1-14, seventh in Metro Suburban Conference; lost 11-0 to Walther Lutheran in Class 2A Immaculate Conception regional semifinals.

Top players: Sam Meyer, sr., C-P; Aaron Snoeyink, sr., 1B-P; Justin VanderNaald, jr., 2B; Chris Ridolphi, sr., SS-P; Phil Stanton, jr., 3B; Matt Robinson, sr., OF; Brandon Kottke, sr., OF; Emerson Bandemer, jr., IF-P; Alex Zarek, sr.; P-OF; Luke Davidson, jr., OF-P; Brandon Scott, jr., 1B-3B; Ben Zastrow, jr., C-OF; Ethan Bardolph, jr., IF; Alex Johnson, jr., P-IF.

Scouting report: With the highest returning batting average standing at .274, from Robinson, the Trojans have some work to do at the plate. Luckily, six starters return with plans on improving. Ridolphi and Robinson will be in the heart of the order. If the hitting does falter again, a deep pitching staff should keep the Trojans in games. Ridolphi and Snoeyink return more than 60 innings. Bandemer, Johnson, VanderNaald and others offer many options on the mound. "I feel good about our pitching," Snoeyink said. "Whoever throws strikes will be the guy."

Waubonsie Valley

Coach: Dan Fezzuoglio.

Last year: 20-13, 17-8, first in Upstate Eight River; lost 9-6 to Neuqua Valley in Class 4A Lockport regional semifinals.

Top players: Tyler Josupait, sr., C; Mitch Stefani, sr., P-IF; James Palasz, sr., P-3B-1B; Austin Dixon, sr., 2B-SS; C.J. Lee, jr., SS; Zach Steele, sr., OF-C; Mitch Gill, sr., 1B-P; Tyler Hasper, so., OF-P; Troy Fumagalli, jr., P-1B; Ryan Vasicek, sr., P; Sean Grannan, sr., OF.

Scouting report: Without the firepower of last season's conference champion -- the Warriors blasted 19 home runs -- this year's offense will rely more on small ball. Josupait hit .367 and Stefani added a .338 average. Steele only received a handful of at-bats as a junior, but he's poised to step up in the middle of the order along with Gill. Lee provides a spark at leadoff. Stefani and Palasz, who return 73 innings on the mound, both pitched consistently a year ago. They'll need the backing of Hasper, Vasicek, Fumagalli and others for the Warriors to defend the UEC title. "We'll need to squeeze out what we can offensively," Fezzuoglio said.

West Chicago

Coach: Dan McCarthy.

Last year: 10-20, 5-15, eighth in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 5-2 to Bartlett in Class 4A Schaumburg regional quarterfinals.

Top players: Nick Driscoll, sr., IF-DH; Ryan Koester, so., 2B; Mike Zajac, jr., Joe Loftus, sr., P; P-1B; Josh Gimre, sr., 3B-P; Tim Almaraz, sr., SS; Sean Elfstrom, sr., C; Grant Hosticka, so., C-P; Alec Strachota, sr., OF; Zach Bauler, sr., OF; Graham Draper, jr., OF; Erik Solis, sr., P; A.J. Seidler, jr., C.

Scouting report: Mass graduation losses, including to the infield, will push younger players to the forefront of the lineup. McCarthy expects an impact from sophomore Koester as well as Zajac on the mound. One bit of experience comes from Strachota, an honorable mention all-DVC pick who batted .321. He brings speed to the leadoff spot, and it'll be up to Koester, Driscoll and Gimre to drive in the runs. Loftus steps in as the staff's No. 1 pitcher after impressively winning 3 DVC games last season. Competition for the conference pitching spots lingers. "I think that'll create some depth," McCarthy said.

Wheaton Academy

Coach: Brad Byrne.

Last year: 20-9, 12-4, first in Suburban Christian Blue; lost 5-1 to Montini in Class 3A Glenbard South regional semifinals.

Top players:Trevor Swaney, sr., P-3B-OF; Jake Cousins, jr., P; Cori Herbert, sr., P; Drew Sandberg, sr., 2B; Alex McNally, sr., C-P; Max Ishikawa, sr., P; John McKenna, jr., SS; William Quiggle, sr., 1B; Gerald Budzisz, sr., P; Luke Boggs, sr., OF; Sam Perna, jr., OF; Mike Kuppler, sr., OF.

Scouting report: Everything's lined up for a great season. The Warriors are coming off their fourth straight 20-win season and their first conference title, and a drop from Class 3A to 2A has them poised for postseason success. The return of All-Area pick Swaney, who batted .455 and went 6-2 with a 1.79 ERA, epitomizes the optimism. McNally's a third-year starter who hit .319, and Sandberg returns at leadoff. Swaney, Cousins and Herbert -- Guerin's ace last season -- top a tough and deep pitching rotation. "We're pretty excited," Byrne said. "They really want to build on last year's success."

Wheaton North

Coach: Dan Schoessling.

Last year: 21-10, 16-5, first in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 4-1 to Wheaton Warrenville South in Class 4A Wheaton North regional semifinals.

Top players: Jake Schieber, sr., OF-P; Ed Norris, sr., P-SS; Ryan Jordan, sr., C; John Peltz, jr., 3B; Ryan Kent, jr., OF; Kevin Fahy, sr., 2B; Colin Sharkey, sr., C; Justin Harrington, sr., P; Collin Schmid, sr., 1B; Lake Bachar, jr., P-OF; Sam Nafziger, jr., P; Alex Gaydos, jr., P-OF.

Scouting report: Defending the DVC title depends on overcoming a rash of key injuries. That'll make the pitching staff a little thinner, and only Norris brings back varsity experience with 11 innings. Nafziger, Harrington and Gaydos are among the pitchers being counted on to step up, and a solid defense will be a big help. The Falcons shouldn't struggle at the plate. Schieber was an All-Area pick last season after hitting .329 with 8 homers and 30 RBI. Peltz, who hit .330, was all-DVC as a sophomore. Kent, Fahy and Jordan bring back significant at-bats. "Our experience and strength is definitely at the plate and in the defense," Schoessling said.

WW South

Coach: Tim Brylka.

Last year: 20-14, 13-8, fourth in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 4-3 to Glenbard North in Class 4A Wheaton North regional final.

Top players: Baylor Holmes, so., P-1B; Andrew Hjellming, sr., P; Matt Sturgeon, sr., OF-P; Rich O'Neil, jr., C; Mike Shelton, sr., SS; Torey Willsey, sr., IF; Kevin Giltz, jr., OF; Matt Walsh, jr., IF; Zach Kyllonen, sr., OF; Mike Marcheschi, sr., IF; Nick Garlick, sr., P; Ryan LaFleur, jr., P.

Scouting report: Led by a band of fierce competitors, the Tigers will try to dispel the uncertainty throughout the roster. Questions exist in the batting order, the pitching staff and on defense, although Brylka has confidence the Tigers will be solid. Holmes, a lefty sophomore, moves up to varsity to slide into the No. 1 pitching role and nail down an infield spot. Hjellming won 2 games last year while Garlick made nine appearances. O'Neil is back behind the plate and returns an experienced bat in the lineup. Shelton is another important player in the batting order. "We don't have a big-name guy, but we've got a bunch of guys who know about winning," Brylka said.

Willowbrook

Coach: Vic Wisner.

Last year: 19-13, 10-8, fourth in West Suburban Gold; lost 5-0 to York in Class 4A Willowbrook regional semifinals.

Top players: Dom Battaglia, jr., OF; Tom Van Kooten, sr., SS; Kevin Johnson, jr., 3B-P; Kurt Gitchell, sr., C; Zac Venchus, sr., P; Nick Petruzzi, sr., 1B-P; Alex Tiberi, sr., P; Mike Sumang, sr., OF; Val Bernardi, sr., 2B; Dave Cericola, jr., P; Nick Rogals, sr., OF; Steve Ferguson, jr., OF.

Scouting report: A fine mix of returners and newcomers, including some from a 20-win sophomore team, makes for a lot of potential with the Warriors. Battaglia is a tremendous start at leadoff after he hit .356 as a sophomore. Gitchell, a transfer from Montini, is a nice addition to the lineup after he hit .349 with 20 RBI last year. Despite concerns with the defense, Willowbrook's deep pitching staff will make up for it. Eleven wins return, including three from Venchus. With Petruzzi, Tiberi and Cericola ready as starters, the Warriors have a luxury in Johnson, who went 5-3 last year, slated to close games. "We've got tough-nosed kids who are pretty talented," Wisner said.

York

Coach: Dave Kalal.

Last year: 23-13, 11-7, second in West Suburban Silver; lost 3-2 to Glenbard West in Class 4A Willowbrook regional final.

Top players: River Pitlock, jr., P-SS; Greg Castello, sr., P; Kyle Burr, sr., C; Jake Rzeszutko, sr., 2B; Mike Trumbull, sr., OF-1B; Pete Doughty, jr., OF; Matt DiFrancesca, sr., 3B; Chris Nesbitt, sr., P; Louis Alcaraz, jr., P; Anthony Santos, so., IF-P.

Scouting report: Competing in the Silver is never easy. But coming off two straight second-place finishes and with 50 innings returning to the mound, confidence is high with the Dukes. Castello, who had a 2.33 ERA in 35 innings, Pitlock and Nesbitt represent the experience, but York needs more pitching to emerge. Up as sophomores last year, Pitlock and Doughty will be mainstays in the lineup. Rzeszutko, a third-year starter, is a stellar athlete who batted .310 last year. An important part of the team is its flexibility. Expect to see players moving around to fill whatever role is necessary. "This could be another good group for us," Kalal said. "We'll see who's going to step up."

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