By Kevin Schmit
Coach: Steve Gilliam.
Last year: 23-14, 13-5, second in West Suburban Gold; lost 4-1 to Willowbrook in Class 4A Wheaton North regional final.
Top players: Nick Rybarczyk, sr., C; Jordan Garcia, sr., 2B; Rocco Costabile, sr., OF; Anthony Infantino, sr., P; Brad Schonder, sr., P-Util.; Mike Caccioppo, sr., 2B; Joe Amato, jr., IF-P; Frank Amato, jr., IF-P; Zack Dowz, jr., Util.; Nate Mueller, jr., SS; Matt Piotrowski, jr., P.
Scouting report: With key elements of last year's team gone, the Blazers aim to match the success. Rybarczyk, committed to Southern Illinois, is among the area's top defensive catchers and will bat third. Garcia hit .300 last year and will likely bat just ahead of Rybarczyk. While the lineup lost significant talent, the pitching staff must replace the top four starters from last year. Infantino vaults into the conference rotation along with Costabile. The Blazers are counting on a big boost from the junior class, especially the Amatos and Dowz on the mound, while challenging big-time arms in the Gold. "Hopefully, they learned from last year's team," Gilliam said.
Coach: Scott Lawler.
Last year: 19-17, 10-6, fourth in East Suburban Catholic Conference; lost 3-2 to Plainfield North in Class 4A Plainfield North regional final.
Top players: Pat McInerney, sr., 1B-P; Chris Whelan, jr., SS-P; Joe Boyle, jr., 3B; Kevin Jendra, sr., C; Joe Giuffre, sr., IF; Pat Peterson, jr., OF-P; Ryan Raupauch, jr., OF; Tony Predey, sr., P; Brendan Pullen, sr., P; Connor Bonnett, sr., DH-P; Robert Haemmerle, sr., P; James Colletti, sr., OF.
Scouting report: The Redwings' strength comes from four core players. McInerney, emerging from basketball season, will need time to round into baseball shape. The Illinois recruit anchors the top of the pitching staff with Whelan, committed to Bradley. Peterson was the top arm on last year's sophomore team. McInerney and Whelan combined for 43 RBI, while Jendra and Boyle each hit over .300. Three deep in starting pitching and a potent top half of the batting order will keep Benet competitive in the always-challenging ESCC. "To win you've got to produce at the top of the lineup," Lawler said. "And I like what we have at the top of our order."
Downers Grove North
Coach: Chad Isaacson.
Last year: 19-15, 10-8, fourth in West Suburban Silver; lost 6-4 to Benet in Class 4A Plainfield North regional semifinals.
Top players: Conner Kopach, sr., SS; Troy Southard, sr., 1B-P; Joe Provenzano, jr., 3B; Ray Greco, jr., 2B; James Sheldon, sr., OF; David Henson, sr., OF; Jack Goergen, sr., DH-1B; Matt Zaboudil, sr., C; Mike O'Malley, sr., P; Lucas Fischer, sr., P; Emil Baftirovski, jr., P; Matt Bohanon, jr., P-OF; Dane Czarnowski, jr., P.
Scouting report: Strength remains up the middle. It starts with Kopach at shortstop, a .360 hitter who is committed to Southern Illinois. Greco steps in at second while Sheldon leads the outfield from center. Zaboudil takes over behind the plate. The overall defense must be strong without a fireballer on the mound. "Our biggest asset is our ability to pick up the ball on the infield," Isaacson said. Southard was the No. 2 pitcher last year. O'Malley started four games. Fischer, Bohanon and Czarnowski will work their way into the rotation. Provenzano hit .350 as a sophomore. He should get RBI chances with Greco leading off.
Downers Grove South
Coach: Darren Orel.
Last year: 24-13, 13-5, second in West Suburban Gold; lost 5-1 to Naperville Central in Class 4A Downers South regional final.
Top players: Zack Burdi, sr., P-OF; Brian Glowicki, sr., P; Danny Mayer, sr., P-1B; Joe Becht, jr., 2B; Kevin Raher, sr., SS; Alex Galik, sr., 3B-P; Zach Taylor, jr., OF-P; Danny Spinuzza, jr., OF; John Dreveny, sr., OF; Anthony Vattimo, jr., C; Javier Martinez, sr., C; Ryan Taylor, so., C-3B; Anthony Metz, jr., OF.
Scouting report: With three pitchers headed to Division I programs, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better rotation than Downers South's. Burdi, committed to Iowa, and Glowicki, headed to Minnesota, combined for 12 wins last year. Mayer, hurt most of last year, is a Pacific recruit. Zach Taylor adds depth after winning four games as a sophomore. Despite stellar pitching and strong defense, the Mustangs still must hit. "If we can score 3-to-4 runs a game," Orel said, "we'll be tough to beat." Six returning starters batted at least .300. Raher flips from the nine spot to leadoff. He'll set the table for Becht, Taylor and Mayer.
Coach: Dave Schwabe.
Last year: 18-17, 7-11, fourth in Metro Suburban Conference; lost 4-0 to St. Joseph in Class 3A St. Joseph regional final.
Top players: Jax Castellanos, jr., C; Alex Cowan, jr., 2B-P; Hector Irizarry, jr., SS; Mike Quinn, jr., OF; Jimmy Kramer, jr., OF-P; Brad Leffew, jr., P; Luis Soto, sr., C; Corey O'Donnell, sr., OF; Gary Baker, sr., 3B; Chris Gadomski, jr., P.
Scouting report: After a decade of seasons with single-digit victories, Fenton made it over .500 last year with a senior-dominant group. With a core of 15 juniors -- including three players who started as sophomores last year -- the Bison want to keep the momentum going this season. "We had a little bit of success and people are starting to buy in," Schwabe said. "The biggest thing this season is they've got to make a big jump from the sophomore level to varsity." Castellanos, Cowan and Irizarry all played well as sophomores. Castellanos hit 3 homers, while Cowan batted .387 with 10 steals. Leffew, Gadamski and Kramer come up from the sophomore team and will fill the starting rotation.
Coach: Joel Pelland.
Last year: 21-16, 12-9, fourth in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 5-3 to St. Charles East in Class 4A St. Charles East regional final.
Top players: Nick Vichio, sr., P-IF; Joe Kotch, sr., OF; D.J. Spears, sr., P; Danny Ryan, sr., SS; Mike Hansen, sr., OF-P; Greg Ludwig, sr., OF-1B; Yoanny Gonzalez, sr., 3B; Troy Huber, sr., P; Alex Gospodarek, sr., Util.-P; Dan Walsh, sr., OF; Scott Borosak, jr., Util.; Tyler Berhent, jr., Util.
Scouting report: Last season the Rams won 20 games and finished in the top half of the DVC while starting seven juniors. That vast experience will pay dividends this year. "I'm very happy with the group we have," Pelland said. "They all mesh together pretty well." Vichio, who is headed to St. Louis University, and Spears each won five games while posting sub-2.30 ERAs. Hansen and Huber return another 50 innings. Hansen also will lead off. He's the lone returner who hit over .300 and was third on last year's team with 16 RBI. A handful of options exist in the heart of the order. Two areas of inexperience are behind the plate and in one of the outfield spots.
Coach: Rich Smelko.
Last year: 16-19, 9-12, fifth in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 4-2 to Glenbard East in Class 4A St. Charles East regional semifinals.
Top players: Matt Frawley, sr., P-1B-OF; Matt Albin, jr., P-3B; Jeff LaPage, sr., C-DH; Brandon Kressner, sr., SS; Brett Consitt, sr, Util.-P; Ryan Storto, sr., 1B-OF; Adam Villanueva, sr., OF-P; Vincent Slobodecki, sr., OF-P; Kyle Crites, jr., P.
Scouting report: Frawley, committed to Purdue, and Albin give the Panthers one of the area's top 1-2 pitching punches. Without much run support they combined for 6 wins last year. Frawley had 84 strikeouts while Albin added 52. Crites steps into the rotation from the sophomore team and Consitt returns from his critical role as a reliever. Beyond that several players will compete for innings. At the plate the Panthers aim to erase the woes of a year ago. Kressner's back in the leadoff spot after batting .303 with 14 RBI. LaPage is another returning bat in the three hole. "We're not going to consistently put up 8 or 9 runs a game, but we're in better shape than we were last year," Smelko said.
Coach: Mike Riley.
Last year: 26-11, 16-2, first in Metro Suburban Conference; lost 8-2 to Nazareth in Class 3A Glenbard South sectional semifinals.
Top players: Carl Sanders, sr., OF-SS; Ethan Gasbarro, sr., P-OF-SS; Tony Tenuta, sr., 3B-P; Justin Joseph, sr., OF-2B; Mike Atkinson, sr., P; Zach Smith, jr., 2B; Nick Yangas, jr., Will Anderson, sr., P-1B; Will Cornwell, jr., C-P; Erik Schuchardt, jr., OF; Alex McGimpsey, so., OF-P.
Scouting report: Last year was the pinnacle of success for the Raiders, who set a record for wins in a season and won conference and regional titles. Three third-year starters return in Sanders, Gasbarro and Joseph as the program looks to keep it up. They'll attempt it without the depth of a year ago. "The expectations are still high for us," Riley said. "But we need some guys to step up for us." The Raiders' top two starting pitchers graduated, leaving Gasbarro as the ace. Atkinson, who has the most innings returning with 41, made big strides in the off-season. Sanders, Gasbarro and Joseph bring plenty of pop to the top third of the batting order.
Coach: Brian Wojtun.
Last year: 20-16, 10-8, fifth in West Suburban Silver; lost 5-1 to Lake Park in Class 4A Lake Park regional semifinals.
Top players: Mitch Monocchio, sr., 3B; Grant Greeno, jr., P-1B; Will Simoneit, so., C-P; Luke Domask, jr., OF; Dennis Rudolph, jr., OF-P; Drew Vogg, jr., OF-P; Tyler Dayton, sr., P-IF; Dan Setzke, sr., P-OF.
Scouting report: A promising season took a major hit when junior Hayden Carlson was lost for the season with a shoulder injury suffered during football. That one loss costs the team its shortstop, leadoff hitter and No. 2 pitcher. Because the Hilltoppers graduated their top two starters from last year, the pitching staff needs significant rebuilding. "We've got a lot of question marks," Wojtun said. "We'll be relying on a lot of young players." Greeno brings back a 2.00 ERA while Rudolph, Vogg and Dayton will figure into the conference rotation. Monocchio and Greeno will be somewhere in the heart of the batting order. Keep an eye on Simoneit, who stood out as a freshman varsity starter while batting .313.
Coach: Tom Dorrance.
Last year: 13-24, 4-14 sixth in West Suburban Silver; lost 7-0 to Neuqua Valley in Class 4A Bolingbrook regional semifinals.
Top players: Adam Dressler, sr., P-1B; Bobby Skogsbergh, sr., P-1B; Christian Bokich, sr., P; Chris Botsoe, so., OF; Tom Concklin, sr., P; Basil Arain, sr., P; Andrew Eck, sr., OF; Tyler Ward, sr., C; Jacob White, jr., 1B; Matt Silk, sr., SS; Alec Hutcherson, sr., OF.
Scouting report: After two years away from the program, Dorrance returns to his longtime post as head coach. He inherits an amazing wealth of pitching that includes three pitchers committed to Division I programs. Dressler's headed to Purdue, Skogsbergh to Boston College and Bokich, a private school transfer, is headed to Miami of Ohio. The pitching staff goes far deeper than that. While only Eck and Ward return as position players, Botsoe will bring a huge boost as a sophomore. The St. Laurence transfer already is committed to Louisville. "With the inexperience we have, early on our pitching will have to carry us," Dorrance said.
Coach: Paul Hoel.
Last year: 29-6, 16-2, first in West Suburban Gold; lost 5-1 to Metea Valley in Class 4A Waubonsie Valley regional final.
Top players: Don Buonavolanto, jr., SS; Matt Reschke, sr., OF-P; Mike Marrera, sr., OF-P; D.J. Deolitsis, sr., OF; Jerry Stoltz, sr., IF; Mike Rizzo, sr., 1B-P; Grant Morford, sr., IF-P; George Cote, sr., C; Joe Jablonski, jr., C.
Scouting report: Last year's success came thanks in part to three graduated starters now at Division I programs. While this year's group looks different, talent remains. "We're inexperienced in spots, but we're still senior driven," Hoel said. "I feel confident with the group we have." Marrera, who went 6-0 as an all-conference pitcher, moves from No. 3 in the rotation to team ace. Reschke, Rizzo and five other pitchers give the staff plentiful options. The lineup is loaded with speed starting at the top with Deolitsis, who stole 30 bases. Buonavolanto is in for a banner season after a strong sophomore year. The Hornets don't have the big names of last year, but they remain capable of defending the Gold title.
IC Catholic Prep
Coach: Zach Rodeghero.
Last year: 16-19, 7-9, fifth in Suburban Christian Gold; lost 5-4 to Gordon Tech in Class 2A Benedictine University sectional semifinals.
Top players: Clark Brinkman, jr., OF-P; Danny D'Angelo, sr., 2B; Cruz Ortega, sr., 3B; Kyle Perrone, sr., P; Max Faut, jr., SS-P; Jack Copher, jr., Util.-P; Grant Hennessy, jr., P-1B; Sean Sutton, jr., OF-3B.
Scouting report: Rodeghero takes the reins of a program that last season claimed a regional title. A former all-stater at Providence who played at Valparaiso, he's the son of legendary high school coach Joe Rodeghero. "There's a lot of untapped talent here," Rodeghero said. "I think we'll definitely be able to compete." D'Angelo, slated to hit leadoff, and three hitter Brinkman each hit over .400 last year. Ortega will see RBI opportunities at cleanup. Brinkman and Ortega return 40 innings on the mound but the Knights will try to keep them in relief roles. Copher, Faut, Hennessy and Perrone, despite a lack of varsity experience, will lead the pitching staff heading into conference play. Also expect to see Faut and Copher in the top half of the order.
Coach: Dan Colucci.
Last year: 20-17, 14-11, second in Upstate Eight Valley; lost 5-3 to Bartlett in Class 4A Lake Park regional final.
Top players: Christian Taugner, sr., P-3B; Tom Spear, sr., C; Eric Vatch, sr., P-OF; Mark Pall, sr., P; Anthony Gallina, jr., OF; Rhett Rapshus, jr., Util.-P; Devin Rybacki, jr., OF; A.J. Colantonio, jr., P; Sam Pellegrino, sr., 2B; Dom Romito, sr., 1B.
Scouting report: Taugner is one of four third-year varsity players aiming to bring the Lancers toward the top of the UEC Valley standings. The key is the return to form of fellow experienced pitchers Vatch and Pall. Taugner, who will play at Brown, has a two-year record of 14-3. As a junior he had 85 strikeouts against 8 walks while compiling a 1.25 ERA. Combined with Pall and Vatch, the Lancers potentially have an elite pitching staff. Although the offense may not have to produce a bunch of runs, the lineup is a little up in the air. "To be able to compete we need to show that we can hit good pitching," Colucci said. Spear is another third-year varsity player ready to contribute at the plate. Rybacki or Vatch could lead off.
Coach: Pete Meyer.
Last year: 31-6, 15-1, first in Interstate Eight Conference; lost 5-4 to IC Catholic Prep in Class 2A IC Catholic Prep regional final.
Top players: Ryan Van Volkenburg, sr., OF-P; Alex Ventrella, sr., P-OF; Brian Czyl, sr., IF-C; Adam Grego, sr., Kevin Coppin, jr., C; Cliff Krause, jr., SS-P; Bailey Welch, jr., IF-P; Jeremy Glavanovits, jr., 1B-P; Jake Oard, jr., OF; Alex Sokolowski, jr., 1B; Billy Loconsole, jr., P-3B; Eric Puccini, jr., P; Alan Kass, jr., P-OF.
Scouting report: Last season featured the most victories in program history, a runaway romp to the IEC title and a 20-game winning streak. Disappointment followed, however, with an early exit from the playoffs. "We've talked about the success we've had, and it's all about team," Meyer said. "That's the attitude we need this season." Van Volkenburg is back for a fourth varsity season after going 7-1 with a 0.64 ERA and batting .385 last year. Ventrella brings back another 30 innings. Krause and Welch add depth to the rotation. Czyl, who hit .402 with 42 runs scored and 13 steals, returns at leadoff. Coppin drove in 38 runs.
Coach: Craig Tomczak.
Last year: 20-18, 13-12, third in Upstate Eight Valley; lost 12-2 to Naperville Central in Class 4A Romeoville sectional final.
Top players: Michael Mooney, sr., 1B; Mike Fitzgerald, sr., P-IF; Andrew Fox, sr., P-OF; Max Custer, jr., P-OF; Adam Cielinski, sr., P-IF; Trevor Duff, jr., C; Ben Doiron, jr., 2B; Matt Karlins, sr., P.
Scouting report: Most people think of Metea Valley as a young, building program. The Mustangs, however, graduated 12 seniors and return only three starters from last season's team that made a surprising run to the sectional final. Even with three to five sophomores up and maybe seven junior pitchers, the program aims to stay the course. "Our expectations haven't changed because of the players we lost," Tomczak said. "These guys will just have to learn pretty quickly." Third-year varsity members Mooney, Fitzgerald and Fox stand as the collective voice of experience. While they'll be familiar faces at the top of the batting order, newcomers fill the pitching staff. Custer saw time as a starter last year, and Karlins also brings back varsity innings.
Coach: Bob Landi.
Last year: 20-17, 10-6, second in Suburban Christian Blue; lost 2-0 to Glenbard South in Class 3A Lake View regional final.
Top players: Ben Dobosenski, sr., P-1B; Chris Bartosz, sr., P-1B; Tyler Quick, jr., P; Eric Frontzak, jr., P; Sean Frontzak, so., P; Austin Kline, jr., 3B; Eddie Bava, jr., SS; Jake Pestel, so., 2B; Jake Mencacci, jr., C-1B; Tom Long, jr., C.
Scouting report: Expectations are high after the Broncos made a surprise run to the final eight of the Lawler Summer Classic. "They know we had a very good summer," Landi said. "We want to draw on that energy, but we have to reprove ourselves this season." Experience abounds headed by third-year varsity member Dobosenski and fourth-year varsity player Bartosz. They combined for 12 victories on the mound last year. Dobosenski hit .343 and Bartosz drove in 21 runs. Bava batted .345. Even though the Broncos graduated their ace, Quick, last year's closer, steps into the rotation with Eric Frontzak. The pitching goes nine deep on a staff that performed under fire last summer.
Coach: Mike Stock.
Last year: 27-13, 16-5, second in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 6-3 to Minooka in Class 4A University of Illinois supersectional.
Top players: Nicky Lopez, sr., SS; Jimmy Nashert, sr., P-OF; Jeff Schank, sr., P-1B-DH; Cody Campbell, sr., P-OF; Brian Schiemann, sr., C; Blake Butler, sr., OF; Jeff Lucas, sr., 2B; Matt McBain, sr., 2B; Zach Aranoff, sr., P; Jack Alberts, jr., OF.
Scouting report: The bad news is the Redhawks fell a victory shy of reaching last year's Class 4A semifinals. The good news is much of that team returns with the goal of taking the next step. "They've all been talking about how close they got last year," Stock said. Nashert, Schank and Campbell form a pitching staff as strong as any in the state. Campbell is committed to Minnesota and Schank to Butler. Nashert pitched in regional final and sectional final victories. The trio combined for 16 victories overall. Creighton-bound Lopez and Schiemann enter a third varsity season. Add it all up and the experienced Redhawks are a strong favorite to win the DVC title and beyond.
Coach: Carl Hunckler.
Last year: 21-13, 15-6, third in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 8-1 to Bolingbrook in Class 4A Bolingbrook regional semifinals.
Top players: Nick Solak, sr., SS; Pat Mollo, sr., C; Ian Gustafson, sr., P; Nick Oros, sr., 3B; Ryan Krainz, jr., 2B; Mark Khoury, so., 1B; Alex Garon, so., OF; Carson Brown, sr., OF-P; Colin Ash, sr., OF-P; Eric Montgomery, sr., OF.
Scouting report: Expect to see Gustafson, in his third year, leading the pitching staff. Beyond him, Ash -- who no-hit Downers South last season -- is the only pitcher with significant varsity experience. Where will the Huskies fill in? Without the arms to consistently go seven innings, they'll rely on depth with players like Brown and others. "We'll need to mix and match a little bit," Hunckler said. "I just like the way our chemistry is right now." The batting order should be strong in the middle with Louisville-bound Solak, who last year hit .442 with 36 runs scored, and Mollo, who hit .341 with 24 RBI. While those two gap hitters look to drive in runs, the Huskies also will lean on their team speed. Expect a good amount of bunting and running throughout the lineup.
Coach: Robin Renner.
Last year: 30-8, 22-3, first in Upstate Eight Valley; lost 2-1 to Metea Valley in Class 4A Romeoville sectional final.
Top players: Jeff Evak, sr., OF; Matt Wollnik, sr., SS; Dylan Goss, sr., C; David Gerber, sr., P; Danny Mokrzycki, sr., P-1B; Cody Coll, sr., P-1B; Jonathan Vlk, sr., P; Pat Kenny, sr., P; Drew Sterioti, sr., 3B; John Michael McMahon, sr., OF; Mike Riesner, jr., 2B; Alex Wolanski, jr., C; Matt Butler, jr., OF-P; Andy Sommers, jr., P; Josh Piotrowski, jr., OF.
Scouting report: If the Wildcats can hit, they'll be a threat for a state title. The wealth of pitching will lead the way headed by Creighton-bound Gerber, who last year went 8-0 with a 1.21 ERA. Mokrzycki, Coll and Vlk combined for 9 wins and each posted a sub-2.50 ERA. The staff goes at least six deep without skipping a beat. Purdue recruit Evak, an all-stater who hit .455, needs support in the batting order from Goss, Sterioti and Coll. If it happens, the Wildcats will have a season of success similar to last year. "We need to pitch and defend," Renner said. "I'm just not real sure about our hitting right now."
Coach: Rich Janor.
Last year: 17-16, 9-6, third in Suburban Christian Blue; lost 5-1 to Marmion in Class 3A Kaneland regional semifinals.
Top players: Jack Petrando, sr., P-Util.; Josh Croci, sr., 1B; Alex Alcantara, sr., OF; Jason Sullivan, so, IF-P; Chris Smith, jr., C; Jack Ciombor, jr., SS; Dan Zurawski, jr., P; Andrew Brundage, sr., P-OF.
Scouting report: The key for St. Francis will be overcoming early-season injuries. While that's thinned the ranks, the Spartans rally around a trio of senior leaders in Petrando, Croci and Alcantara. Petrando's a three-year varsity member, staff ace and will bat third after hitting .308 with 3 home runs and 15 RBI. Croci and Alcantara are returning all-conference picks. Croci, a heart-of-the-order hitter with Petrando, was third on the Spartans with a .353 batting average. Alcantara stole a team-high 12 bases and will lead off. "I feel good about the top of our order," Janor said. "We need to get production from the last few guys. I see us being a typical St. Francis hit-and-run team." The rotation is bolstered by Sullivan, Brundage and Zurawski.
Coach: Jim Snoeyink.
Last year: 8-21, 3-15, seventh in Metro Suburban Conference; lost 6-5 to Immaculate Conception in Class 2A Immaculate Conception regional semifinals.
Top players: Emerson Bandemer, sr., P-IF; Luke Davidson, sr., OF; Alex Johnson, sr., IF-P; Brandon Scott, sr., 1B; Phil Stanton, sr., Util.-P; Justin VanderNaald, sr., 2B-P; Cole Miller, fr., P-Util.; Ben Zastro, sr., C-3B; Ethan Bardolph, sr., OF; Luke Hooker, jr., OF; Jack Miller, jr., OF-1B; George Thompson, jr., 3B-OF; Mike Wieringa, jr., C-3B-P.
Scouting report: The Trojans have the experience to improve, but they'll have to overcome the loss of their two top pitchers from last year. Johnson and Wieringa figure in the picture, but the most exciting piece is Miller. The freshman is poised to make an immediate impact in the rotation and at the plate. Stanton and VanderNaald, both three-year starters, will play wherever needed, including on the mound. It's one of the team's biggest strengths. "We've got a lot of versatility," Snoeyink said. "We'll be able to move guys around a lot when we need to."
Coach: Dan Fezzuoglio.
Last year: 15-19, 12-13, fifth in Upstate Eight Valley; lost 5-4 to West Aurora in Class 4A Waubonsie Valley regional quarterfinals.
Top players: Troy Fumagalli, sr., P-1B; C.J. Lee, sr., SS-P; Tyler Hasper, jr., OF-P; Ben Vietri, jr., 3B-1B; Drew Ellam, jr., OF; Dalton Cooper, sr., 2B: Alex Tazic, sr., OF; Jake Bennema, sr., OF; Tad Wegner, jr., OF-C; Luke Marzano, so., C; Julian Langford, sr., P; Jack Eddy, jr., P; Corey Wright, sr., P.
Scouting report: A handful of juniors and sophomores on the field won't prevent Waubonsie Valley from a successful season. "The question is whether they can step up," Fezzuoglio said. "I think they can." Fumagalli's headed to Wisconsin to play football, but he's primed for another strong baseball season after going 6-1 last year with a 1.66 ERA. Pitching depth with Langford, Lee and Hasper will keep opposing bats at bay, but the Warriors must hit better themselves. Last season they hit a cumulative .242 and lost eight 1-run games. You'll see Lee and Hasper, both .300 hitters last year, at the top of the order.
Coach: Dan McCarthy.
Last year: 6-30, 1-20, eighth in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 6-3 to Conant in Class 4A York regional quarterfinals.
Top players: Ryan Koester, jr., 2B; Antonio Solis, jr., P-IF; Connor Dall, so., SS-OF; Mike Zajac, sr., 1B-P; Graham Draper, sr., OF; Jon Sanders, sr., 3B; Dave Kordik, jr., 3B-P; Jon Michiels, jr., 1B-DH; A.J. Seidler, sr., C; Grant Hosticka, jr., C; Bill Pearson, sr., jr., P-OF; Austin Kordik, jr., OF-P.
Scouting report: For all the positives with West Chicago's team -- defense, offense and depth -- the Wildcats still need to pitch. Zajac led the team in innings pitched last season. The rest of the staff, including Dave Kordik and Pearson, is deep but inexperienced. Team depth comes from a sophomore team that won 24 games without Koester, who earned honorable mention all-DVC honors last year. "Overall the outlook is a lot better than it was at the beginning of last year," McCarthy said. Dall, a promising sophomore who will likely lead off, and Solis offer young talent and flexibility in the lineup. Koester, Seidler and Pearson need to drive in runs.
Coach: Brad Byrne.
Last year: 15-18, 10-6, second in Suburban Christian Blue; lost 9-5 to Richmond-Burton in Class 2A Richmond-Burton regional semifinals.
Top players: Jake Cousins, sr., P-OF; John McKenna, sr., SS; Sam Perna, sr., OF; John Schmitz, sr., P; Kyle Uitermarkt, sr., 1B; Ryan Bugh, sr., 2B; Peter Ferrill, sr., C; Jameson Brinks, sr., 3B; Dan O'Neil, jr., OF-P; John Naskrant, jr., OF; Austin Ebeling, jr., 3B-P; Dylan Hughes, jr., 1B-P; Dyan Razee, jr., C.
Scouting report: Replacing Trevor Swaney, the two-time conference player of the year, won't be easy. Luckily the Warriors boast a pair of three-year starters in Cousins and McKenna to maintain an experienced squad. Cousins notched a 2.36 ERA last year. Schmitz offers another talented arm. Perna, the top returning hitter with a .326 average, will lead off. Without the booming bats of a year ago, the Warriors will rely on small ball and speed to produce runs with a balanced lineup. "We think we can put an entire batting order that's better than last year," Byrne said.
Coach: Dan Schoessling.
Last year: 25-12, 17-4, first in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 6-1 to Willowbrook in Class 4A Wheaton North regional semifinals.
Top players: Ryan Kent, sr., OF; Johnny Peltz, sr., 3B-SS; Lake Bachar, sr., OF-P; River Williams, sr., P-3B-C; Tom Colletti, sr., P-IF; Sam Nafziger, sr., P; Tom Cassier, sr., C; Doug Hayes, sr., P; Andrew Slivinski, jr., P-OF; Michael Mannix, jr., P-OF; Jeff Harper, jr., 2B-OF; Zach Leander, jr., 1B; Greg Scandora, jr., P-3B.
Scouting report: The Falcons reload for a run at a third straight DVC title. "Our goal is to keep that title, but the conference is going to be better than it's been in years," Schoessling said. Kent and Peltz return as third-year varsity players. Kent hit .466 with 37 runs scored from the leadoff spot while Peltz batted .344 with 28 RBI. Bachar and Williams also return as starters, and the team receives the extra boost of Colletti's return. He missed all of last season with a torn labrum, costing the team a starting pitcher, shortstop and power hitter. Bachar takes over as No. 1 pitcher after going 5-1. Nafziger expands his role on the mound.
Coach: Tim Brylka.
Last year: 16-20, 8-13, sixth in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 12-5 to Metea Valley in Class 4A Waubonsie Valley regional semifinals.
Top players: Baylor Holmes, jr., P-1B; Rich O'Neil, sr., P-C-1B; Chris Amen, sr., P-3B; Matt Walsh, sr., 2B; Kevin Giltz, sr., OF; Eric Giltz, so., OF; Mike Saccucci, sr., SS; Aiden Hernandez, jr., 3B-P; Brett Streubing, jr., P; Connor Ostrander, jr., P; Mitch Krafcheck, sr., DH.
Scouting report: The Tigers return three pitchers with nearly 150 combined innings and 11 wins, but they need to overcome last year's habit of hard-luck losses. "I really like our pitching," Brylka said. "I think we'll be able to hit, but we'll see if we can play well defensively." Holmes posted a 2.29 ERA while Amen, last year's closer, won five games and saved two more. O'Neil, who drove in 18 runs with a team-high .357 batting average, will be pivotal on the mound and at catcher depending on the day. Speed dominates the top of the order with Giltz and Walsh returning 22 steals. O'Neil and Krafcheck had 30 RBI and should drive in a bunch this season.
Coach: Vic Wisner.
Last year: 23-16, 11-7, fourth in West Suburban Gold; lost 11-1 to Schaumburg in Class 4A Schaumburg sectional final.
Top players: David Cericola, sr., P; Mike Rothmund, jr., 1B; Cal Moltzan, sr., OF; Dom Battaglia, sr., OF; Steven Ferguson, sr., OF; Kevin Johnson, sr., 3B-P; Brian Johnson, jr., SS; Rob Huette, sr., P; Jeremy Kucik, sr., 2B; Jack Wood, sr., 2B; T.J. Case, jr., P; Jake Cady, jr., 3B-P; Tyler Vavrek, jr., OF; Matt Gasiamas, jr., P.
Scouting report: Momentum's clearly on the Warriors' side after winning the program's first regional title since 1973. For starters they return a pair of All-Area players. Last year Cericola went 8-1 with 94 strikeouts and a 0.90 ERA. Rothmund had a monster sophomore year while batting .391 with 42 RBI. Backed by an all-conference pick in Moltzan and three-year starter Battaglia, the Warriors are poised to challenge for the Gold title. "I'm very happy with the group we have," Wisner said. "They work together pretty well." Cericola is backed by Johnson, coming off a great summer on the mound, and newcomers Case and Cady.
Coach: Dave Kalal.
Last year: 22-14, 12-4, first in West Suburban Silver; lost 4-3 to Schaumburg in Class 4A York regional semifinals.
Top players: River Pitlock, sr., P-SS; Louis Alcaraz, sr., P; Anthony Santos, jr., P-1B; Seth Dvorak, jr., P; Josh Paparone, sr., OF; Pete Doughty, sr., OF-C; Adam Gomez, sr., P; Ryan Saco, jr., 3B; Tyler Zunkel, jr., IF; Mike Ross, jr., OF; Dan Cirone, jr., OF; Jake Dvorak, jr., DH-1B.
Scouting report: How impressive was York's conference title last season? Silver rivals Oak Park and Lyons Twp. wound up playing for the Class 4A championship. "For us it's not about what we did last year," Kalal said. "It's what this group can accomplish now." Repeating would be quite a feat for the Dukes, who were gutted up the middle by graduation. Pitlock, a third-year starter, and Alcaraz combined for 9 wins and posted sub-2.00 ERAs. Gomez, Seth Dvorak and Santos return limited experience, but they'll be counted on during Silver play. Paparone and Pitlock each hit over .300. The Dukes will lean on speed at the top with Seth Dvorak and Paparone.