Blake Alexander Burlington Central
Burlington Central's most selective hitter often helped himself and his team by seeing 15-20 pitches per game in the 2-hole. The senior led the Big Northern East and Class 3A regional champion Rockets with a .349 batting average (29-for-83) and team-best 12 doubles. He drew 25 walks in 115 plate appearances and was hit by 7 pitches, leading to a .530 on-base percentage, 1.061 OPS and 25 runs scored, all team highs. "He never gave up an at-bat and he made sure everyone on the team got a good look at the pitcher," Central coach Kyle Nelson said. "Defensively, he's a fantastic athlete who worked hard to become a good defender for us at shortstop."
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Jake Bigos Crystal Lake South
A repeat all-area selection, this senior's potent, left-handed bat and strong defense helped the Gators win a share of the Fox Valley Conference Valley Division title for the second straight year. His .443 batting average (39-for-88) was the second highest in an area. He smacked 8 doubles, a triple, a home run, drove in 13 runs and scored 33 runs. Defensively, he committed just 1 error in center field in 29 games. "He was real versatile for us and he constantly got on base," Crystal Lake South coach Brian Bogda said. "He hit .469 and scored 26 runs in conference games. Those numbers really stand out to me." Bigos will play next season at Division II St. Joseph's (Ind.).
Troy Bittenbender Crystal Lake South
This senior right fielder emerged as one of the area's most improved players. He won a position battle this spring and went on to hit .419 (39-for-93), the fourth-best batting average among 14 area schools. He also clubbed 8 doubles, 3 triples, 3 home runs, scored 29 runs and drove in 24. "He was our biggest surprise," Crystal Lake South coach Brian Bogda said. "He started hitting the ball the other way and learned to sit back and take that pitch on the outer half to right field. I'm proud of him. He worked almost obsessively to make himself a better player." Bittenbender's drive to improve landed him a spot next season with Division II Wisconsin-Parkside.
Evan Blunk Jacobs
Blunk squared off with opposing aces with regularity, which is why his 4-3 record in 10 starts tells only part of the story. The right-handed senior finished with the area's fourth-lowest ERA (1.42). He struck out 62 while walking just 15 in 59.1 innings. He got stingier as the season progressed, limiting opponents to 2 earned runs in his final 39 innings. Season highlights included a 2-hit, 1-0 win over eventual league co-champion Huntley and a regional semifinal victory over league co-champion Crystal Lake South. Blunk's final high school start in a sectional semifinal against Hononegah resulted in a no-decision, though he did not allow an earned run on 4 hits in 71⁄3 innings. "Every start was a quality start," Jacobs coach Jamie Murray said. "When his name was called, he went out there and threw strikes. I'm proud of what he did." Blunk will pitch next year for Division III North Park University in Chicago.
Connor Conzelman Jacobs
Named Jacobs High School Male Athlete of the Year, this 6-foot-2, 220-pound senior already committed to play football at Valparaiso may also attempt to play baseball in college following his successful spring. A third-year varsity performer, he was the Fox Valley area's home run king (8) and his 35 RBI ranked second in the region. Conzelman has a mighty swing and a selective eye. Though he led his team in strikeouts (41), he also led Jacobs in walks (19), slugging (. 604) and OPS (1.014). "He was a great leader and he really grew as a hitter," Jacobs coach Jamie Murray said. "Teams started the year pitching backward to him. He adjusted and really blossomed toward the end of the year." Conzelman belted a team-best 10 doubles and scored 21 runs. He hit a 3-run home run and drove in 5 against Barrington to lead Jacobs to the program's first regional title.
Tyler Crater Hampshire
A four-year varsity player, Crater was a team leader at the plate, behind it and on the mound. The catcher made only 6 errors in 139 total chances (. 957) and was the main reason the Whips threw out 18 of 57 runners attempting to steal (31.6 percent). "Defensively, you'd be hard pressed to find a better catcher who blocks, receives and throws like him," Hampshire coach John Sarna said. Crater led the Whip-Purs with a .379 batting average (37-of-96). He hit 7 doubles, a triple, drove in 13 runs and scored 21 times. He even added pitching to his duties as a senior, finishing with a 4.00 ERA in 28 innings. A three-sport athlete throughout high school, he intends to play baseball and basketball at NAIA Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais.
Joe Crivolio South Elgin
Also an all-area wide receiver last fall, this 6-foot-3, 195-pound senior was a force on the mound and at the plate. He posted the area's second lowest ERA (1.34) in 52.1 innings. The left-hander's misleading 4-3 record included a 1-0 loss to Waubonsie Valley in which he allowed only 2 hits and a 2-0 loss to Upstate Eight River co-champion Batavia. A contact pitcher, he struck out 29, walked 16, induced 60 groundouts and 55 flyouts. Opponents batted just .207 against him. "He really came into his own as a pitcher in regard to hitting spots and changing speeds and locations," South Elgin coach Jim Kating said. "I'm very happy with how he came about. He worked extremely hard." An all-Upstate Eight Valley pick, Crivolio batted .350 (36-for-103). He led the Storm in doubles (13) and RBI (17) and homered once. He will continue his playing career at Elgin Community College.
Matt Ewert Cary-Grove
Already an excellent defensive catcher, this senior developed into one of the Trojans' top hitters. Ewert batted .391 (34-for-87) with 8 doubles, a triple, a home run and 20 RBI. He walked as many times (9) as he struck out in 106 plate appearances. "He really worked hard and had a great offensive year as well as a great defensive year," Cary-Grove coach Don Sutherland said. "We put him in that second spot in the order to see if it was a good fit and didn't move him once because he did a great job of hitting behind runners all year." Cary-Grove stole 92 bases this season but Ewert and the Trojans made prospective base stealers think twice by throwing out 13 of 30. He will play next season at McHenry County College.
Dan Gerke Burlington Central
This 6-foot-2, 170-pound junior emerged as the staff ace for a team that won Big Northern East and Class 3A regional titles. The right-hander's season culminated in a gutty 9-inning performance in a 2-1 sectional semifinal loss to eventual state qualifier St. Francis. Gerke went 6-4 and his 1.39 ERA was the third-lowest in the area. His 68 strikeouts ranked second in the area and he walked just 14 in 701⁄3 innings. In 4 straight starts between April 30 and May 23, he recorded complete-gave victories over Class 3A regional champion Richmond-Burton, Class 4A state qualifier Libertyville, Class 4A regional champion Prairie Ridge and playoff opponent Marengo. "He really didn't have any bad outings," Central coach Kyle Nelson said. "He threw three pitches for strikes, pitched to contact and rarely hurt himself with the walk."
Tyler Hall Crystal Lake South
The honorary co-captain of the all-area team weighs in at a robust 145 pounds, but the 6-footer leaves deep footprints. Hall forged a 9-2 record this spring, upping his career total to 18-3. Those 18 victories rank second on CL South's all-time list, first among two-year varsity players. "He had such a great junior year it's tough to repeat that, but he did," Crystal Lake South coach Brian Bogda said. "He comes out, throws strikes and keeps you in the game. The kids played with confidence behind him knowing he'd give us a chance to win each time." Hall, who played shortstop when he didn't pitch, struck out 61 batters, walked 13 and posted a 2.17 ERA in 58 innings. At the plate his .417 batting average (30-for-72) was fifth-best areawide. He stroked 5 doubles, drove in 15 runs and scored 20 more. Hall will play next season for Division II Tusculum College in Greenville, Tenn.
Dylan Kissack Dundee-Crown
Also a two-time all-area basketball selection, this senior catcher was the steadying force behind Dundee-Crown's surprise run to a Class 4A sectional title-game appearance. A four-year varsity baseball player, Kissack led the Chargers with a .362 batting average (34-for-94). He also paced qualifying D-C hitters in doubles (10), on-base percentage (. 430) and slugging (. 468). "Things weren't always going right, but Dylan was steady as could be and kept us going in the right direction," D-C coach Jon Anderson said. "He's a leader by example. Before the playoffs he kept things loose and kept his teammates from being uptight. Since then we did very well." Defensively, Kissack was largely responsible for D-C catchers throwing out 29.3 percent of runners attempting to steal. He made only 3 errors behind the plate in 158 chances for a .981 fielding percentage. Kissack will study at the University of Kentucky and attempt to walk on with the baseball program.
Jacob Koehring St. Edward
A repeat all-area selection, this senior left-hander was the top pitcher for a 16-win team that reached a regional title game. Koehring went 5-2 with 48 strikeouts, 17 walks and a 1.69 ERA in 492⁄3 innings. His season highlight was a complete-game, 3-2 victory over Aurora Christian in a Class 2A regional semifinal. At the plate, Koehring hit .275 (19-for-69) with 5 doubles, 2 home runs and 23 RBI and scored 18 runs. "He had a great season," St. Edward coach Tim Dovichi said. Koehring will continue his playing career at NAIA Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne.
Tighe Koehring St. Edward
A repeat all-area pick, this junior catcher continued to hit for average while also collecting 15 extra basehits. A left-handed hitter, he led a 16-9 ballclub with a .395 batting average (30-for-76), but his average rose to .500 with runners in scoring position. He also led his team or was tied for the team lead in doubles (10), triples (2), home runs (3), RBI (26), total bases (53), slugging (. 697) and OPS (1.151). He stole 7 bases in 8 attempts and scored 18 runs. Defensively, his strong right arm was largely responsible for St. Edward nailing 14 of 30 baserunners attempting to steal. "He had a great season," St. Edward coach Tim Dovichi said. "I'm expecting Tighe to build on this season as he becomes a senior next year."
Nick Ledinsky Jacobs
A 6-foot-4 right-hander, Ledinsky saved his best performances for the postseason. The senior threw complete game victories against MSL West champion Barrington to win Jacobs' first regional title and he shut out Dundee-Crown 9-0 to win the school's first sectional title. He finished 7-2 with 45 strikeouts, 28 walks and a 2.56 ERA in 57.1 innings. "He was huge for us in the playoffs," Jacobs coach Jamie Murray said. "Barrington didn't hit the ball out of the infield against him. In his two years on varsity he won some big games and really helped steer the program in the right direction." Though the original plan didn't call for Ledinsky to hit this season, he stepped in due to an injury and became a lineup fixture, batting .370 (17-for-46) with 3 doubles. Ledinsky will pitch next season for Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls, Iowa.
Colin Lyman Huntley
Committed to Louisville, this lightning-quick, left-handed hitter was hard to throw out once he made contact. A four-year varsity player, Lyman batted .413 (43-for-104), which increased to .455 with runners in scoring position. He drew a team-best 13 walks, was hit by 7 pitches and finished with a team-high .496 on-base percentage. He stole 14 bases in 18 attempts and scored 37 runs, second most in the area. He was the area leader with 15 doubles to go with a triple, a home run, 23 RBI and a .606 slugging percentage. "He was our table setter and got on base for us, which is why he was one of our leaders in run scored," Huntley coach Andy Jakubowski said. "He did a great job in center field for us. He's going to do a lot of good things at the next level." Lyman made only 2 errors in 58 outfield chances, a .966 fielding percentage.
Zach Marszal Cary-Grove
A two-time all-area baseball selection also named to the all-area football team last fall, this senior was recently named Cary-Grove Male Athlete of the Year for an unprecedented second time. A clutch performer at the plate, he led the 19-win Trojans with a .400 batting average (38-for-95) but hit .463 with runners in scoring position. He tied for the area lead with 15 steals and was caught only once. He swatted 9 doubles, an area-best 3 triples, 2 home runs and drove in 28. Marszal slugged .621 with a 1.060 OPS. "He is a strong athlete in both sports and he's done it quietly," Cary-Grove coach Don Sutherland said. "He's a good student and a good kid, just a pleasure to be around." Marszal will continue his baseball career next year at McHenry County College.
Aaron Meciej Jacobs
This senior catcher/designated hitter was named to the Phil Lawler Summer Classic all-tournament team last July as Jacobs surged to a state semifinal. He was a central figure this spring as the Golden Eagles won a school record 25 games and their first regional and sectional championships. Meciej led Jacobs with a .381 batting average (43-for-113) and .453 on-base percentage. He hit 3 doubles, drove in 19 runs and scored 17 times. "He didn't rotate in much as a junior, but he worked his tail off and there was great improvement from his junior to senior year," Jacobs coach Jamie Murray said. "He's a tremendous, high-character individual, loved by his teammates and the coaching staff. He did everything you could ask a student athlete to do." Meciej will continue his playing career next season at Division III Monmouth College.
Max Meitzler Crystal Lake South
It's no coincidence CL South enjoyed the most successful three-year stretch in program history (68 victories, two conference titles) while this slugger was a varsity member. A repeat all-area pick, the senior first baseman batted .411 (37-for-90) with 11 doubles, a home run and the third-highest RBI total in the area (32). Defensively, he did not make an error at first base in 168 innings. He leaves the Gators as the program's career leader in hits (111), games played (97), doubles (34) and RBI (85). "We've had some pretty successful teams and a big part of our success has been because of Max," Crystal Lake South coach Brian Bogda said. "He was great offensively and his leadership and ability on defense was a big reason we were able to bring up two sophomores to play on the left side of the infield." Meitzler will continue his career at NAIA Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa.
Colin Nowak Bartlett
This repeat all-area pick led all hurlers with 75 strikeouts in 65 innings. The right-handed senior walked 18 and finished with a 2.37 ERA and 1.05 WHIP, a much better season than his 2-5 record indicates. "His numbers don't reflect the kind of guy he's been for the past two and a half years on varsity," Bartlett coach Chris Pemberton said. "The rest of our team looked up to him and played with confidence whenever he was on the mound." Nowak struck out 7 and did not allow an earned run in 6 innings of a sectional semifinal against Wheaton North. He also hit 9 doubles, including a run-scoring double that snapped a scoreless tie in the sixth inning of Bartlett's 2-0 regional title game win over Hoffman Estates. Nowak will pitch next season for Heartland Community College in Normal.
Ryan Nutof South Elgin
A sore arm forced this junior right-hander to miss the first three weeks of the season, but he quickly established himself as one of the area's finest pitchers upon his return. Nutof demonstrated improved control to post a minuscule 0.76 ERA in 37 innings, lowest in the area. He notched 57 strikeouts, issued only 12 walks, had a 1.00 WHIP and limited opponents to 4 earned runs. Opponents batted .194 against him. He went 5-1 in 6 starts and earned a 1-inning save in his only relief appearance. Nutof's fastball was consistently clocked at 91 mph during a 5-hit shutout of higher-seeded Glenbard North in a regional semifinal. "He's an effortless pitcher," South Elgin coach Jim Kating said. "And he's just beginning to cut loose. He has a huge upside. He's a big, strong kid who works hard. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound hurler has already gained interest from Big Ten, Big East and Southeast Conference schools, Kating said.
Bryce Only Huntley
Committed to Nebraska, this four-year varsity baseball and basketball player produced for Huntley with his right arm and powerful swing. He batted .362 (38-for-105) with 11 doubles, a triple, 6 home runs and 30 RBI. Only drew 8 walks and was hit by 9 pitches, which contributed to his .440 on-base percentage and 31 runs scored. He slugged .657 and posted a 1.097 OPS. He struck out only 13 times in 126 plate appearances. Pitching competitively for the first time since eighth grade, Only finished 4-4 with a 3.65 ERA. He struck out 59 and walked 30 in 462⁄3 innings. "I thought he did a tremendous job offensively and especially on the mound," Huntley coach Andy Jakubowski said. "He took the ball every fifth day and threw against every big name in the conference. He established the strike zone and gave us a chance to win day in, day out."
Mark Skonieczny Huntley
This versatile junior catcher/outfielder gave a verbal commitment to Illinois last winter then spent the spring tormenting opposing pitching. A former powerlifting national record holder in his age group, Skonieczny led the area in RBI (36) and runs scored (43) and finished second in home runs (7). He was the area's third-leading hitter with a .432 average (51-for-118) and tied for fifth in doubles (11) and stolen bases (12). An honorary co-captain of the all-area team, he posted the area's best slugging percentage (. 720) and OPS (1.185). He and fellow catcher Tyler Mindak combined to throw out 14 of 36 attempted base stealers. "Mark did it all," Huntley coach Andy Jakubowski said. "He hit for average, hit for power, he has a great arm and he scored a bunch of runs because he can run He's also a leader and a motivator. I'm glad we have him back next year."
Doug VanDyke Bartlett
An all-Upstate Eight Valley pick, this right-handed pitcher made an immediate impact. The junior went 7-2 with 1 save, 46 strikeouts, 13 walks and a 2.33 ERA in 51 innings. His season highlight was a 94-pitch, 1-hit shutout of Hoffman Estates that secured Bartlett's second straight Class 4A regional championship. "His preparation and hard work in the off-season prepared him for this," Bartlett coach Chris Pemberton said. "He never had an outing where he didn't have his best stuff. He always competed and gave us a quality start."
Matt Vitulli Bartlett
Here's a great example of sticking with it. Cut from his team as a freshman, Vitulli continued working hard to improve. As a senior he finally got an opportunity to play and seized the moment. He surprised everyone by winning the area batting crown with a .458 average (44-for-96), and his 13 doubles were tied for second-highest area total. The third baseman hit 1 triple, 1 home run, drove in 28 runs and scored 25 times. He reached base at a .467 clip and slugged .646 to finish with a 1.113 OPS. "His hard work since not making the freshman team three years ago got him to this point," Bartlett coach Chris Pemberton said. "Nothing discouraged him and it carried over to his plate approach. I'll take 20 of him any time." Vitulli will continue his career at Triton College.
2013 All-area roster
Player School Pos. Yr.
Blake Alexander Burlington Central SS Sr.
Jake Bigos Crystal Lake South CF Sr.
Troy Bittenbender Crystal Lake South RF Sr.
Evan Blunk Jacobs P Sr.
Connor Conzelman Jacobs LF Sr.
Tyler Crater Hampshire C/P Sr.
Joe Crivolio South Elgin P/OF Sr.
Matt Ewert Cary-Grove C Sr.
Dan Gerke Burlington Central P Jr.
*Tyler Hall Crystal Lake South P/SS Sr.
Dylan Kissack Dundee-Crown C Sr.
Jacob Koehring St. Edward P Sr.
Tighe Koehring St. Edward C Jr.
Nick Ledinsky Jacobs P/CF Sr.
Colin Lyman Huntley CF Sr.
Zach Marszal Cary-Grove P/RF Sr.
Aaron Meciej Jacobs C Sr.
Max Meitzler Crystal Lake South 1B Sr.
Colin Nowak Bartlett P Sr.
Ryan Nutof South Elgin P/OF Jr.
Bryce Only Huntley P/3B Sr.
*Mark Skonieczny Huntley C/RF Jr.
Doug VanDyke Bartlett P/1B Jr.
Matt Vitulli Bartlett 3B Sr.
* -- Honorary co-captain
Bartlett -- Ben Havel (Sr., 1B), Mike Roberson (Sr., C), Mike Wick (Jr., OF)
Burlington Central -- Bryan Cynova (Jr., C), Mike Lee (Jr., OF), Jacob Schutta (Jr., P/IF)
Cary-Grove -- Dean Lee (Sr., P), Brandon McCumber (Sr., P/OF), Matt Sutherland (Jr., 2B)
Crystal Lake South -- Garrett Bright (So., SS), Tommy Gaede (Sr., 3B/OF), Tyler Parquette (Jr., P), Eric Schiller (Sr., P)
Dundee-Crown -- Luis Garcia (Sr., IF)
Elgin -- Alex Buttell (Sr., OF/IF), Ryan Sitter (Jr., P/IF)
Jacobs -- Grant Kale (Jr., 2B), Reilly Peltier (Jr., P), Greg Sidor (Sr., C/IF)
Hampshire -- Piotr Barnas (Sr., CF), Brandon Bowen (Jr., OF)
Huntley -- Tyler Albright (Sr., 2B), Tom Kiriakopoulos (Jr., 1B), Eric Luecht (Jr., P), Kameron Sallee (Sr., 1B), Matt Sullivan (Jr., SS)
Larkin -- Chris Guzeman (Sr., 2B), Niko Morado (Sr., C)
St. Edward -- Michael Castoro (Sr., 2B), Jack Tierney (Sr., OF/P)
South Elgin -- Nick Binder (Sr., SS), David Palmer (Sr., P/IF)
Streamwood -- K. Sojda (Jr., P/OF), Jeff Weaver (Sr., OF)
Westminster Christian -- Tyler Mamrot (So., SS), Will Woodhouse (Sr., OF)
Captain's honor roll
1996 -- Jeff Chiles (Crystal Lake South)
1997 -- Brian Smith (Larkin)
1998 -- Matt Krabbe (Larkin)
1999 -- Jason Richardson (Larkin)
2000 -- Ryan McKenna (Larkin)
2001 -- Jason McMillan (Dundee-Crown) and Dan Sheldon (Burlington Central)
2002 -- Trevor Huisinga (Bartlett)
2003 -- Alex Turk (Burlington Central)
2004 -- Doug Sanders (St. Edward)
2005 -- Chris Ritchie (Burlington Central) and Chris Schultz (Elgin)
2006 -- Kevin Steinhaus (Dundee-Crown)
2007 -- Brad Porto (Burlington Central) and Elliot Soto (Dundee-Crown)
2008 -- Ben Palmer (Westminster Christian) and T.J. Swank (Prairie Ridge)
2009 -- Brian Brauer (Streamwood) and Craig Lipp (Huntley)
2010 -- Ben Albano (Jacobs) and Austin Jarvis (Burlington Central)
2011 -- Josh Harris (Streamwood)
2012 -- Jordan Van Dyck (Crystal Lake South)
2013 -- Tyler Hall (Crystal Lake South) and Mark Skonieczny (Huntley)
All-area selections and capsules by Jerry Fitzpatrick