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Baseball: Scouting DuPage County

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Addison Trail

Coach: Mike Kennedy.

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Last year: 11-25, 7-11, fifth in West Suburban Gold; lost 9-0 to Wheaton North in Class 4A Wheaton North regional semifinals.

Top players: Joe Kurucar, sr., OF-P; Zack Dowz, sr., OF-P; Joe Amato, sr., SS-2B; Frank Amato, sr., P-OF; Nate Mueller, sr., SS-2B; Christian Grabowski, jr., P-1B; Jaime Valdez, jr., IF-OF; Jake Atiyeh, jr., OF; Michael Rybarczyk, jr., IF; Eric Gilliam, jr., OF; Eric Grogans, sr., C.

Scouting report: A Glenbard East grad in his 10th year of coaching, Kennedy takes the reins of the program through a promotion from coaching at the sophomore level. He inherits a team with talent he's familiar with, and one thing Kennedy knows is that this group thrives on competition. Kurucar's one of the many multisport athletes. He's the team's leading returning hitter after hitting .337 and stands as the top pitcher on a staff returning more than 100 innings with the Amatos and Dowz. In addition to all four of those players, Grogans, Valdez and Mueller will contribute in the lineup. "We're not looking just to compete," Kennedy said. "We're ready to win."

Benet

Coach: Scott Lawler.

Last year: 22-10, 11-4, first in East Suburban Catholic Conference; lost 3-2 to Clemente in Class 3A Clemente regional final.

Top players: Chris Whelan, sr., P-SS; Joe Boyle, sr., 3B; Pat Peterson, sr., P; Jon Kruppe, jr., C-P; Ryan Raupach, sr., OF; Connor Hickey, jr., OF; Anthony Rendina, sr., IF; Jason Blohm, sr., OF; Cole Channell, jr., IF; Matt Emerick, sr., P.

Scouting report: In terms of expectations, a 20-win season and conference title just scratch the surface. Given the high-caliber experienced talent, this should be one of the area's best teams and a threat in Class 3A. Whelan's headed to Bradley, Boyle to NIU, Peterson to Dartmouth and Kruppe to Evansville. They each bring something special to the team. Whelan, Peterson and Kruppe return 120 innings and sub-3.00 ERAs. Boyle and Whelan drove in 20 runs apiece while Hickey led the team with a .405 average. Hickey hit .500 in the ESCC. Raupach and Blohm add to a formidable lineup. "I think we snuck up on some people the last couple years," Lawler said. "I don't think we'll be able to do that this year."

Downers Grove North

Coach: Chad Isaacson.

Last year: 22-12, 12-6, second in West Suburban Silver; lost 12-4 to Neuqua Valley in Class 4A Neuqua Valley sectional final.

Top players: Joe Provenzano, sr., 3B; Ray Greco, sr., 2B; Matt Bohanon, sr., P; Dane Zarnowski, sr., P; Dan Miller, sr., P; Emil Baftirovski, sr., P; Ryan Andrews, jr., P-1B; Brett Pyburn, jr., P-OF; Nick Laio, jr., OF-P; Myles Farley, jr., P; Jake Maurer, sr., OF.

Scouting report: After a surprise run to the sectional final, success this season hinges on third-year starters Provenzano and Greco, who last season combined for 48 RBI. The Trojans graduated their top three pitchers, but Bohanon pitched valuable innings during the playoff run and posted a 1.54 ERA. Miller and Zarnowski also bring back mound experience. A slew of juniors are ready to step up as well. Much of the pitching, however, remains untested at the varsity level. "We've got a real nice mix of players, but it really comes down to how the pitching develops," Isaacson said. Little returns to the batting order beyond Provenzano and Greco. The Trojans need middle-of-the-order contributions from Baftirovski.

Downers Grove South

Coach: Darren Orel.

Last year: 30-7, 15-3, second in West Suburban Gold; lost 8-0 to Downers Grove North in Class 4A Neuqua Valley sectional semifinals.

Top players: Zac Taylor, sr., OF-P; Danny Oriente, so., C; Joe Becht, sr., SS-2B; Matt Zinnecker, sr., OF-P-1B; Danny Spinuzza, sr., P-OF; Joe Engel, jr., IF; Chris Pedrak, sr., P-1B; Anthony Metz, sr., OF; Ryan Taylor, jr., 3B-P-C; Peter Hamot, jr., P.

Scouting report: It's hard to imagine Downers South rebuilding a pitching staff that graduated three Division I players. The Mustangs, though, remain in great shape to continue its run of success. "I don't think you can replace that kind of pitching," Orel said. "We don't have a true No. 1. The staff isn't as top heavy but it's deep." Spinuzza and Zac Taylor bring back some experience. Orel stresses that Zinnecker and Pedrak could have pitched on last year's team if not for all the big-time arms. Zac Taylor and Becht, committed to Santa Clara, are three-year starters poised to hit 1-2. Oriente is among the state's top sophomores. A tremendous catcher, he'll hit third.

Fenton

Coach: Dave Schwabe.

Last year: 8-28, 2-16, seventh in Metro Suburban Conference; lost 10-0 to Wauconda in Class 3A Fenton regional semifinals.

Top players: Alex Cowan, sr., SS-P; Jimmy Kramer, sr., OF; John Geraci, sr., 2B; Brady Pugliese, jr., 1B; David Echeverria, jr., P; Alec Wasowicz, sr., 3B-1B; Jim Gennett, sr., P; Jax Castellanos, sr., 3B; David Alden, jr., OF; Mike Quinn, sr., OF.

Scouting report: Thin on experience, the Bison enter the season with a bunch of unknowns. The good news is Fenton's numbers are good and there's versatility on a roster that can show many different looks. "There's no doubt there are a lot of questions marks this year," Schwabe said. "The one thing we know is Alex Cowan's definitely our best player." A standout football player for the Bison in the fall, Cowan will be counted on heavily to anchor the batting order, lead the defense at shortstop and head the pitching staff. Last season Cowan showed dominant stuff at times, striking out 17 batters against Maine East. Echeverria and Pugliese bolster the pitching staff for a team that aims to outwork opponents.

Glenbard East

Coach: Joel Pelland.

Last year: 13-23, 7-14, sixth in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 2-1 to St. Charles East in Class 4A Geneva regional final.

Top players: Tyler Behrendt, sr., OF-P; Scott Borosak, sr., OF-P; John Allen, jr., 1B; Justin Griffin, jr., C; Jimmy Macdonald, sr., P; Anthony Esterly, sr., P; Michael Sebby, so., P-OF; Bryce Roberts, jr., SS-P.

Scouting report: How inexperienced are the Rams entering the season? They took the field with only two junior starters a year ago. Behrendt hit .282 with 17 RBI, but Borosak, with 53 at-bats, is the only other player with significant varsity time in the batter's box. The leadoff spot remains a question mark, while Allen and Griffin are slated to fill key spots in the heart of the order. A senior pitching staff was the strength of last year's team, but Pelland has confidence in this group based on what he saw in the summer. Macdonald, Behrendt, Esterly and Sebby made great strides on the mound during the off-season. "There are still some questions to be answered, but these guys put in a lot of work and want to be successful," Pelland said.

Glenbard North

Coach: Rich Smelko.

Last year: 19-12, 14-7, third in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 2-0 to South Elgin in Class 4A Wheaton North regional semifinals.

Top players: Matt Albin, sr., P-IF; Kyle Crites, sr., P; Nolan Jasinski, jr., OF-2B; Luke Greenberg, jr., P; Gary Santos, sr., OF; Colin MacGaffey, sr., OF; Jim Krippinger, sr., 3B; Sam Ledbetter, jr., SS-3B; Chris Murray, sr., 2B; Alex Barrett, sr., 1B; Eric Orze, jr., P-C; Tom Potts, sr., P; Chris Ruiz, sr., P; Alex Leal, sr., OF.

Scouting report: Even after losing Matt Frawley, now at Purdue, to graduation, the Panthers' strength remains on the mound with Albin, Crites, Greenberg and others. That trio returns 100 innings, with Greenberg posting a 1.38 ERA as a sophomore. Depth from Orze, Potts and Ruiz give the Panthers one of the DVC's top pitching staffs. The question is whether they can hit consistently enough to back up that pitching. "That's been our problem the last couple of years," Smelko said. "We just haven't been scoring enough runs." Santos, Orze, Albin and Greenberg are among the players looking to pick up the lineup's run production.

Glenbard South

Coach: Mike Riley.

Last year: 20-11, 13-5, third in Metro Suburban Conference; lost 6-5 to Clemente in Class 3A Nazareth sectional semifinals.

Top players: Nick Yangas, sr., P-OF; Will Cornwell, sr., P-OF; Alex McGimpsey, jr., P-OF; Dom Fazzari, jr., P-OF; Jacob Straza, jr., P-3B; Brian Atchley, jr., P-C; Tim Marks, so., 3B; Kyle Carli, so., C; Nick Paprota, sr., 1B; Dylan Brambora, jr., 1B; Brian Ashe, jr., 2B.

Scouting report: If the Raiders' bats come alive, it'll be the perfect complement for a team built around pitching and defense. Cornwell's a great start to the offense after last season batting .430 with 30 RBI. No other player, however, batted within 180 points of Cornwell. Yangas boasted the team's top ERA last season at 1.83. Cornwell, McGimpsey and Fazzari round out the leaders of the rotation. Glenbard South may only play two senior starters. A young group gets a boost defensively from sophomores Marks and Carli. "Hopefully, our hitting comes around a little bit," Riley said. "I think our pitching and defense can keep us in games if that happens."

Glenbard West

Coach: Andy Schultz.

Last year: 13-20, 7-11, sixth in West Suburban Silver; lost 12-2 to Geneva in Class 4A Geneva regional semifinals.

Top players: Grant Greeno, sr., P-1B; Luke Domask, sr., OF; Will Simoneit, jr., C; Dennis Rudolph, sr., P-OF; Hayden Carlson, sr., IF; Drew Vogg, sr., 3B-P; Billy Becker, jr., P-IF; Jack Tecson, jr., OF; Nick Floyd, sr., P; Jared Crane, sr., P; Eric Nielsen, sr., P.

Scouting report: After coaching five years at St. Francis and a season at Glenbard East, Schultz takes over a program on the upswing. Greeno, committed to Brown, and Rudolph combined for more than 80 pitched innings last season. Domask is primed to be among the area's top leadoff hitters after batting a team-high .375 last year. Experience extends behind the plate with Simoneit entering his third year on varsity. The Hilltoppers get a huge boost with the return of Carlson, who missed last season due to injury. A senior-laden lineup plans to make a push at the WSC Silver title. "If we're not in the mix for a conference title with the talent we have, I'll be disappointed," Schultz said.

Hinsdale Central

Coach: Jason Ziemer.

Last year: 17-14, 10-8, fourth in West Suburban Silver; lost 2-0 to Waubonsie Valley in Class 4A Hinsdale Central regional semifinals.

Top players: Chris Botsoe, jr., OF-P; Jacob White, sr., 1B; Ryan Haff, sr., SS; Matt Muellner, sr., C; Max Peters, sr., P-3B; Austin Butler, sr., P; Charlie Banke, sr., P; Nick Senicka, sr., P; Dan Teska, jr., P; Ben Chapman, jr., SS-P.

Scouting report: Ziemer comes to Hinsdale Central after spending seven years as Proviso West's coach. The Red Devils graduated three Division I pitchers, but Ziemer believes they have the potential to compete at a high level. Botsoe, committed to Louisville, had a brilliant sophomore season in center field while batting .444. White hit .393 and Muellner .436, so the batting order appears pretty stout. Everything, though, depends on an inexperienced pitching staff. "If we can throw strikes, which I think we can, we'll be OK," Ziemer said. Butler, Banke, Senicka and others will be among the leaders on the mound, and they'll be helped by a dynamite defensive outfield and experienced infield.

Hinsdale South

Coach: Paul Hoel.

Last year: 22-11, 16-2, first in West Suburban Gold; lost 5-1 to Metea Valley in Class 4A Oswego regional semifinals.

Top players: Don Buonavolanto, sr., SS; Eric Benson, sr., P; Mike Mullaney, sr., P-1B-OF; Jon Uba, sr., P; Anthony Nicholas, jr., P; Tim Dziergas, so., P-1B; Joe Jablonski, sr., C; Joey Oehmen, sr., 2B; Brian Hoel, sr., 3B; Matt Marrera, jr., IF; Dean Serritella, sr., OF; Mike Meyers, sr., OF.

Scouting report: The defending Gold champs are ready for a repeat with a senior-laden group headed by Buonavolanto, who's committed to Northern Illinois University. He leads an extremely talented infield specializing in strong defense. Jablonski behind the plate adds to that strength. Three pitchers -- Benson, Mullaney and Uba -- boast varsity experience, but five or six pitchers could contribute as starters. "We may not have a true No. 1, but we have a lot of guys who are pretty equal," Hoel said. "It's really going to come down to how we hit." Oehmen and Hoel set the table for Buonavolanto with tremendous speed. Bunting, running and timely hitting will be the trademark of the offense.

IC Catholic Prep

Coach: Zach Rodeghero.

Last year: 10-16, 5-9, third in Suburban Christian Gold; lost 7-4 to Lisle in Class 2A IC Catholic Prep regional semifinals.

Top players: Clark Brinkman, sr., OF-P; Grant Hennessey, sr., 1B-P; Jack Copher, sr., C; Sean Sutton, sr., SS-P; Max Faut, sr., 2B; Steve Stam, jr., P-IF; Liam Cahill, sr., P-DH; Mitch Cook, jr., P-IF; Ryan Russ, sr., OF.

Scouting report: Among the many reasons for optimism is a new turf field that's sure to get a lot of work. In fact the Knights' first 12 games, and 22 total, are at home. Brinkman, a returning three hitter who batted .400 last year, forms a strong 1-2 pitching punch with Hennessey. Copher, the football team's quarterback, looks to close games. With the Knights planning on better defense on a turf field, the formula for success is in place. "The guys on the mound will always keep us in the game," Rodeghero said. Team speed with Sutton, Brinkman and others dictates the offensive strategy, but don't be surprised by a slow start caused by the late arrival of six basketball players who were part of a sectional finalist team.

Lake Park

Coach: Dan Colucci.

Last year: 27-11, 20-5, tied for first in Upstate Eight Valley; lost 6-0 to St. Charles East in Class 4A St. Charles East sectional semifinals.

Top players: Anthony Gallina, sr., OF; Devin Rybacki, sr., OF; Gunnar Barlund, sr., OF; Ethan Schulz, sr., SS; Rhett Rapshus, sr., P; A.J. Colantonio, sr., P; Colin Fowich, so., P-IF; Dom Fallico, so., C; Brandon Popp, sr., P-1B; Steve Joyce, sr., P-1B.

Scouting report: Last year's team set a standard for excellence the Lancers will try to transfer from the UEC to the DuPage Valley Conference. The biggest question is replacing the graduated top-shelf pitching headed by Christian Taugner, last season's Daily Herald All-Area Team Honorary Captain. Rapshus, a third-year varsity member, and Colantonio combined for 5 wins while posting sub-3.00 ERAs. With the entire outfield returning in addition to Schulz at shortstop, the Lancers should be solid defensively. Keep an eye on Fowich, brought up as a freshman, in the lineup after he batted .470 last summer. "It's a different year," Colucci said. "We'll need to score more runs."

Lisle

Coach: Pete Meyer.

Last year: 23-11, 9-6, second in Interstate Eight North; beat Pleasant Plains 10-1 in Class 2A state championship game.

Top players: Kevin Coppin, sr., C-IF; Cliff Krause, sr., P-IF-OF; Bailey Welch, sr., P-OF; Billy Loconsole, sr., 3B-P; Alex Sokolowski, sr., 1B; Jake Oard, sr., OF-C; Eric Puccini, sr., P-OF; George Swedie, jr., P-SS; Alec Van Volkenburg, so., OF-2B; Ryan Joyce, jr., P-IF.

Scouting report: What could the Lions possibly do for an encore after last year's stunning run to a state championship? "I still pinch myself," Meyer said. "It's just been a real exciting year for all of us. Now we have to get back to work. This is a new team with a new identity." Everything came together for Lisle last season, especially on the mound with graduated aces Ryan Van Volkenberg and Alex Ventrella. The rebuilding process begins there with Krause and Welch returning innings and Swedie ready to step up. Coppin, a four-year varsity member, and Krause led the team with .378 and .373 batting averages, respectively, while combining for 48 RBI.

Metea Valley

Coach: Craig Tomczak.

Last year: 17-15, 13-12, fourth in Upstate Eight Valley; lost 6-5 to Downers Grove North in Class 4A Neuqua Valley sectional semifinals.

Top players: Ben Doiron, jr., 2B; Sam Hanson, sr., OF; Andy See, jr., SS; Jose Gomez, sr., P; Matt Fitzgerald, jr., C; Jack Szott, jr., P-1B; Max Custer, sr., P; Nick Klepper, jr., OF; Derek Kirchner, jr., OF-IF; Jacob Petersen, jr., 1B; Sam Janus, jr., P; Christian Howell, sr., P.

Scouting report: The Mustangs plan to build upon last season's run to a regional title behind pitchers Gomez, Szott and Custer, who were three of the team's top four in innings pitched. This remains a young group, something that'll be noticeable in the lineup. "The biggest question is how many runs are we going to score?" Tomczak said. See, who batted .393 after being brought up from last year's sophomore team, Fitzgerald and Szott are gap hitters who will move speedsters Hanson, Doiron and Klepper around the bases. It's a junior-heavy lineup that may have one senior position player. Like last year, that shouldn't be a problem.

Montini

Coach: Bob Landi.

Last year: 21-9, 12-3, first in Suburban Christian Gold; lost 1-0 to Riverside-Brookfield in Class 3A Riverside-Brookfield regional final.

Top players: Jake Pestel, jr., 2B; Rhett Wojkovich, sr., OF; Eddie Bava, sr., SS; Austin Kline, sr., 3B; Eric Frontzak, sr., P; Tyler Quick, sr., P; Jake Mencacci, sr., 1B; Sean Frontzak, jr., P; Jordan Lazowski, jr., P; Kyle Jackson, jr., P; Jack Gerberich, so., OF.

Scouting report: Based on what they have coming back on the mound, expect the Broncos to make a spirited defense of their conference title. The Frontzaks -- Eric posted a 1.75 ERA -- and Quick have been varsity pitchers since sophomore year. With a slew of juniors ready to step up, Montini's strength is clearly on the mound. "Pitchers take you where you want to go, and we've got a lot of arms," Landi said. The lineup should be powerful with Bava and Kline returning high .300 averages. Mencacci batted .420 in the summer. Pestel and Wojkovich provide the spark at the top of the order. The Broncos are led defensively in the infield with Bava at short. Wojkovich is strong in center field.

Naperville Central

Coach: Mike Stock.

Last year: 24-8, 17-4, first in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 5-4 to Plainfield North in Class 4A Naperville Central regional final.

Top players: Brendan Daley, sr., 1B-P; Bobby McMillen, jr., OF; Pat Maloney, sr., P; Jason Wegner, sr., 3B; Jack Alberts, sr., OF; Michael Kolzow, jr., SS; Luke Daley, sr., C-DH; Kevin Clifford, jr., OF; Brett Kirk, sr., P; Cole Wooldridge, sr., P; Jack Wooldridge, sr., P; Brad Dubow, jr., P; Justin Wegner, jr., C-DH.

Scouting report: Don't be deceived by the graduation losses. Naperville Central's perfectly capable of winning a DVC title. An extremely athletic group includes junior football standouts like McMillen, a linebacker committed to Iowa State, Kolzow and Clifford. Brendan Daley, who hit in the heart of last year's batting order, would have been a key pitcher on last year's team if not for a senior-heavy rotation that carried the load. He and Maloney form a good 1-2 tandem on the mound, but expect to see a much deeper staff develop. "We're coming in without much varsity experience, but I'm excited," Stock said. "A lot of kids are going to get their chances."

Naperville North

Coach: Carl Hunckler.

Last year: 16-12, 12-9, fourth in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 4-0 to Plainfield North in Class 4A Naperville Central regional semifinals.

Top players: Rob Leonard, sr., P; John Sagen, sr., 3B; Ryan Krainz, sr., 2B; Danny Riley, sr., C-DH; Mark Khoury, jr., C-1B; Alex Garon, jr., P-OF; Mike Laurenzo, sr., IF-DH; Sam LaScala, jr., IF-P; Christian Robert, jr., IF; Steve Dudas, jr., OF.

Scouting report: Look for a stellar lineup to carry the load offensively as an inexperienced pitching staff develops. Khoury and Riley both boast power potential while Krainz, Sagen and Laurenzo, who missed last season, also return a ton of varsity at-bats. After a collective struggle swinging the bats a year ago, the Huskies should be able to swing it up and down the lineup. The pitching staff is much more thin on experience but it does feature Leonard, who went 7-1 as a junior. Look for the Huskies to fill in with elements of a strong junior class that won 20 games without Khoury and Garon. "We have some arms, but it's more important that we develop pitchers," Hunckler said.

Neuqua Valley

Coach: Robin Renner.

Last year: 30-11, 20-5, tied for first in Upstate Eight Valley; lost 6-4 to St. Charles East in Class 4A third-place game.

Top players: Mike Riesner, sr., SS; Alex Wolanski, sr., C; Josh Piotrowski, sr., OF; Tyler Tesmond, jr., OF; Matt Butler, sr., OF; Andy Sommers, sr., P; Tyler Jaeger, sr., IF; Jake Alexander, sr., IF; Kevin Hutt, jr., 2B-P; Alex DiFranco, jr., 3B-P.

Scouting report: It's tough for any team to duplicate a 30-win season and a top-four state finish, but this Wildcats team is capable. Riesner's a Bradley recruit who batted .328 with 24 RBI. Wolanski and Butler return another 40 RBI in a lineup returning five starters, including Piotrowski and Tesmond, who hit .324 once he was brought up as a sophomore late last season. Renner believes Sommers and Butler would have been starting pitchers last year if not for the standout seniors in front of them. Those two will be front and center for a pitching staff bursting with possibilities. This is an extremely deep team. "We just have to give kids a chance to do the job," Renner said.

St. Francis

Coach: Rich Janor.

Last year: 31-12, 10-5, first in Suburban Christian Blue; lost 5-0 to Joliet Catholic in Class 3A championship game.

Top players: Jason Sullivan, jr., P-SS; Matt Kelly, sr., P; Jack Ciombor, sr., 2B; Chris Smith, sr., C; Brett Whelton, so., C; Ryan Hodgett, so., P; Jake Radel, jr., OF; Christian Kuzemka, sr., P-1B; Zach Prociuk, sr., 1B; Will Purdom, jr., OF; Nick Dama, jr., OF.

Scouting report: Sullivan's return is a great start for a team building on last year's finish. The junior is the ace who won 8 games with a 1.75 ERA and fired a 4-hitter in the state final. Kelly added 3 wins. Kuzemka seeks to bounce back from Tommy John surgery while Radel adds 20 innings of experience. The batting order took a major graduation hit, although Sullivan and Radel bring back starting at-bats. Janor believes his team is two-deep at every position, and six pitchers could start. Defensively the team's led by the double-play combo of Sullivan and Ciombor. "Last year's experience is beneficial, but we're not going to rest on our laurels," Janor said.

Timothy Christian

Coach: Jim Snoeyink.

Last year: 8-18, 5-13, sixth in Metro Suburban Conference; lost 7-0 to Lisle in Class 2A Benedictine University sectional semifinals.

Top players: Mike Wieringa, sr., P-C-3B; Cole Miller, so., P-OF; Jon Barrera, jr., C-OF; Andrew Goedeke, jr., 2B-OF; Connor Loughead, jr., 2B-P; Brett Kwasigroch, jr., OF; Devin May, jr., SS-P; Jeff Voss, jr., OF; Carter Johnson, so., P-1B; Andy Margason, so., OF; Josh Anderson, fr., IF-C-P; Michael Bieterman, fr., C-3B-P.

Scouting report: With only one senior on the roster, the Trojans' biggest obstacle is overcoming inexperience. That doesn't mean waiting for next year, but patience is required. "It makes us thin," Snoeyink said. "We've only got 12 guys, but I'm excited about the younger guys." Wieringa, the lone senior, will be in the heart of the order after batting .292 with 15 RBI. Miller hit .301 with 16 RBI as the only other player with varsity experience. Beyond those two, the lineup is up in the air because of versatile, but new, personnel. May and Johnson add to the pitching while Bieterman boosts the batting order.

Waubonsie Valley

Coach: Dan Fezzuoglio.

Last year: 19-15, 14-11, third in Upstate Eight Valley; lost 4-1 to Downers Grove South in Class 4A Hinsdale Central regional final.

Top players: Tyler Hasper, sr., OF-P; Ben Vietri, sr., IF-P; Drew Ellam, sr., OF; Tad Wegner, sr., 1B-OF-C; Luke Marzano, jr., C; Nick Drago, sr., 3B-P; Jack Eddy, sr., P-OF; Garret Howicz, jr., SS; Ryan Jones, jr., IF; Zack Bennema, jr., P-1B; Ryan Strick, jr., OF; Preston Everts, jr. P-3B.

Scouting report: With Hasper the Warriors hold the advantage of having perhaps the UEC's top player. The two-year starter on the mound and two-time all-UEC pick went 5-3 with a 2.63 ERA and batted .404 with 5 homers and 27 RBI. The lineup's littered with experience thanks to Marzano, Ellam, Vietri -- who batted .356 with a team-high 32 RBI -- and others. The entire top five from last year's batting order returns. Eddy returns 30 innings on the mound but beyond him and Hasper the Warriors need players like Drago and Bennema to emerge. "I like these guys a lot, but we need to stay healthy," Fezzuoglio said. "We've got talent, but we're not very deep."

West Chicago

Coach: Dan McCarthy.

Last year: 4-27, 1-20, eighth in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 4-2 to Schaumburg in Class 4A Schaumburg regional quarterfinals.

Top players: Connor Dall, jr., SS; Ryan Koester, sr., 2B; Dave Kordik, sr., 3B-P; Austin Kordik, sr., OF-P; Jon Michiels, sr., 1B; Grant Hosticka, sr., C; Fred Gosbeth, jr., P-OF; Alex Cabral, jr., P-OF; Peyton Seidler, jr., P-OF; Antonio Solis, sr., P-IF.

Scouting report: Get ready for the Wildcats to make a splash in their first year in the UEC. It won't be easy in one of the state's top conferences, but this looks to be one of the better West Chicago teams in recent memory. Dall is among the UEC's top players who as a sophomore hit .365. He heads a veteran defense that returns intact in the infield. Koester led the team with 19 RBI. It'll be a solid batting order, but an inexperienced pitching staff that graduated five of its top six inning-eaters needs to keep the team competitive. Dave Kordik, Gosbeth, Cabral and Seidler are among the arms vying for a rotation spot. "We're very optimistic," McCarthy said. "This is going to be our best team in a long time."

Wheaton Academy

Coach: Brad Byrne.

Last year: 7-20, 4-11, fifth in Suburban Christian Blue; lost 4-1 to Hampshire in Class 3A Burlington Central regional semifinals.

Top players: Brett Albaugh, jr., SS; Austin Ebeling, sr., P-IF; Dylan Hughes, sr., P-1B-OF; Ryan Beck, sr., P; Luke Kram, jr., 3B-P; Chris Johnson, jr., OF; Michael Moses, jr., P-1B; Brandon Valente, sr., P; Jake Lindstedt, jr., P-DH-OF; Tanner Phillips, jr., OF; Bryce Sandberg, jr., 2B.

Scouting report: With Albaugh, Johnson and Kram up on varsity, the Warriors' junior class still had the talent to lose only five games the last two years at the freshman and sophomore levels. "It's an experienced junior-heavy team," Byrne said. "The expectation with them is great." Even though there are only five seniors with this year's group, they'll be critical to success. Ebeling, who paced last year's team in innings pitched, and Valente, out last year with a broken arm, lead on the mound with Albaugh. The Warriors are pretty inexperienced at the plate, where the team's top eight in at-bats graduated. Albaugh, Phillips, Johnson and Beck are keys to the lineup.

Wheaton North

Coach: Dan Schoessling.

Last year: 27-9, 15-6, second in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 5-3 to St. Charles East in Class 4A St. Charles East sectional final.

Top players: Greg Scandora, sr., 3B; Jeff Harper, sr., OF; Jake Taschetta, sr., OF; Charles Robin, jr., P-IF; Nick Traversa, jr., P-IF; Michael Mannix, sr., OF; Mike Muto, sr., C; Andrew Slivinski, sr., OF-P; Zach Leander, sr., 1B; Stephen Crane, sr., P; Ben Cary, sr., P-1B; Greg Sells, sr., IF; Sam Lawrence, so., P.

Scouting report: Very little experience returns from last year's success-filled team, especially on the mound. About 30 total innings return, but there's confidence that Robin, brought up late in his sophomore season, Traversa, Crane and others can fill the void. Same holds true for the lineup, which should be in better shape with Scandora, Harper, Mannix and Taschetta bringing back significant at-bats. More questions loom on the field, where Andrew Hrgich and Robin aim to lock down the defense at shortstop. "We still plan to compete for a DVC title," Schoessling said. "That's always our No. 1 goal."

WW South

Coach: Tim Brylka.

Last year: 18-15, 11-10, fifth in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 5-4 to Yorkville in Class 4A Romeoville regional semifinals.

Top players: Baylor Holmes, sr., P-1B-OF; Connor Ostrander, sr., P-1B-DH; Brett Streubing, sr., P-OF; Eric Giltz, jr., OF-SS; Justin Kelly, jr., C; Brian Summers, sr., IF; Evan Jakubowski, sr., IF; Robert Zablock, sr., OF; Chris Simpson, jr., P; Austin Polezoes, jr., IF.

Scouting report: With perhaps the top pitching staff in the DVC, the Tigers have the stuff to win the title for the first time since 2000. Holmes, Ostrander and Streubing combined for 13 of the team's 18 wins last season.Streubing led the team with 52 innings and a 1.34 ERA. "The guys are focused this season," Brylka said. "They want to be in the discussion for the DVC championship." Giltz was stellar in the lineup as a sophomore, batting .358 with 17 RBI and a team-high 5 homers. With Ostrander and Kelly boasting additional power, the Tigers should score in bunches. The question comes on defense where the Tigers may put Giltz at shortstop to shore things up on the infield.

Willowbrook

Coach: Vic Wisner.

Last year: 22-11, 11-7, third in West Suburban Gold; lost 2-1 to York in Class 4A Schaumburg regional semifinals.

Top players: Mike Rothmund, sr., 1B; Jake Cady, sr., P; Brian Johnson, sr., SS; Tyler Vavrek, sr., OF; Dom McDonnell, jr., C; T.J. Case, sr., P; A.J. Nolen, sr., IF; Tucker Newling, sr., OF; Tyler Zunkel, sr., IF-OF; Matt Gasiamis, sr., P; Jeremy Knable, sr., P; Trey Jones, jr., IF-OF; Matt Pizur, so., P.

Scouting report: The Warriors will thrive on one of the area's deepest pitching staff. Eight players hit 82 mph or higher in the first week of practice. Case, a High Point recruit who was injured last season, throws in the low 90s. With Case, Zunkel and Pizur the Warriors have a chance to be competitive in every game. "We haven't had this many arms in a long time," Wisner said. "I think we could surprise some people this year." Zunkel, a York transfer, is a speed demon at the top of the order. Rothmund, a third-year starter, aims for a breakout year in the heart of the order after batting .305 last season. Cady and Johnson also batted above .300.

York

Coach: Dave Kalal.

Last year: 16-20, 8-10, fifth in West Suburban Silver; lost 4-0 to Lake Park in Class 4A Schaumburg regional final.

Top players: Anthony Santos, sr., P-1B; Seth Dvorak, sr., C-P; Dan Cirone, sr., OF; Mitchell Miner, sr., OF-P; Jake Dvorak, sr., 1B-DH; Nolan Spencer, jr., SS; Sam Craggs, jr., OF; Kyle Coughlin, jr., 2B-OF; Mike Homan, jr., 3B; Ryan Gilmartin, jr., P.

Scouting report: In Santos the Dukes have a player who can carry them on the mound and at the plate. After hitting .308 with 16 RBI as a junior, he'll bring power around Spencer, Seth Dvorak, Jake Dvorak and Dan Cirone in a lineup that also has strong hit-and-run and small-ball potential. Craggs hit in the high .400s last summer. Santos is the team ace after posting a 1.40 ERA in 35 innings. Seth Dvorak, Miner and Gilmartin, 6-0 in the summer, deepen the rotation. The Dukes will lean heavily on a junior class that won 27 games and a Silver title at the sophomore level. "I'm very optimistic," Kalal said. "This will be one of the more athletic teams we've had in the last five years."

-- Kevin Schmit

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