Jeff Barton LibertyvilleBarton got the biggest games and the toughest opponents, and he came out smelling like a rose. Barton went 8-0 on the mound this season for the Wildcats, a campaign that gained momentum last season when he won the state semifinal game to put Libertyville in the state championship game. "He's had no easy opponents," Libertyville coach Jim Schurr said. "It's such a credit to his ability. He's so crafty. He's got great mound presence and great command of 3 pitches and he can locate those pitches. He's one of the best we've had at being able to do that." Barton finished with a 1.50 earned run average.
Pat Crowley Vernon HillsA four-year starter on varsity, Crowley certainly had a voice at Vernon Hills. "He is a fiery kid who is able to rally the troops when needed," Vernon Hills coach Jay Czarnecki said. "He has improved each year and has developed into a very polished baseball player." Crowley was primarily a pitcher for the Cougars early in his career, but he also took over the spot in centerfield last year. "He is excellent defensively," Czarnecki said. "And he has really improved as a pitcher. He started out the season throwing a no-hitter." Crowley was 7-5 on the mound with a 1.58 earned run average. He finished with 63 strikeouts. Offensively, Crowley rolled up 47 hits in 139 at-bats, including 7 doubles, 6 triples and 2 home runs. He had a .405 batting average. He also stole 12 bases.
Ben Dinter WarrenDinter moved from the infield to the outfield this season and took advantage of fewer defensive stresses. His offensive numbers went way up this season. He finished with a .465 batting average. In 101 at-bats, Dinter rolled up 47 hits, including 14 doubles, 5 triples and 4 home runs. He also drove in 40 runs and stole 6 bases. "Ben was a leader and captain of our team," Warren coach Clint Smothers said. "He showed the juniors the way a senior should lead. He's a great kid to coach."
Merrick Gentile Grayslake NorthJust a sophomore, Gentile was a standout in three varsity sports at Grayslake North: football, basketball and baseball. "Merrick is easily the best athlete I've ever coached," Grayslake North coach Andy Strahan said. "He is extremely competitive and has a rare combination of speed and strength." Gentile hit in the 3-spot in every game for the Knights and led the team in batting average (.394), doubles (9) and stolen bases (10). In 104 at-bats, Gentile, Grayslake North's third baseman, rolled up 41 hits. He also drove in 18 runs.
Justin Guryn Grayslake CentralGuryn certainly set the tone for his season with his very first outing: a no-hitter. The hard-throwing lefty threw a total of 3 shutouts, striking out 74 batters in the process over 52 innings. He led the Rams with 7 wins during the regular season. "He worked extremely hard in establishing himself as a top pitcher in the area," Grayslake Central coach Troy Whalen said. "He attacks every hitter and has that bulldog tenacity that you look for in pitchers." Guryn went 7-3 and had an earned run average of 1.61. He gave up only 12 earned runs.
Adam Harvey AntiochIt will be strange not to see Harvey behind home plate. It's become his second home at Antioch. Harvey has been starting at catcher for the Sequoits since about midway into his sophomore year. "Adam is a special player," Antioch coach Paul Petty said. "It's not only because he's a solid catcher with exceptional blocking and throwing skills, but it's also because he became a student of the game and developed a strong relationship with our pitching coach (Chris Malec) in managing our pitchers."
Andrew Hill WarrenWarren coach Clint Smothers might be able to start penciling in some wins for next year. He'll have Hill back on the mound and when Hill pitched this year, good things happened for Warren. "When Andrew threw this year, he gave us a chance to win," Smothers said. "He did a great job competing. We are really excited for him to develop over the summer and have a great senior year for us." Hill went 3-2 on the season with 1 save. In 50⅓ innings pitched, he rolled up 50 strikeouts with only 17 walks. He finished with an impressive 0.83 earned run average.
Jay Hoffmann Grayslake CentralHoffmann started as a sophomore on Grayslake Central's third-place state team last season and that experience showed in his reliability as a lead-off hitter this season. Hoffmann had a team-high 43 hits, 37 runs scored and 25 stolen bases. His .428 batting average was also tops on the team. "He is the catalyst that makes the Rams' offense go," Grayslake Central coach Troy Whalen said. "He sets the table for the rest of the guys. He is such a tough out and has such great patience at the plate. Even more importantly, he is a game-changer on defense and has been a vacuum at second base."
Ryan Holander MundeleinHolander worked himself into a not only a major contributor this season, but a much different player from last season. "Ryan was definitely our most improved player from last year," Mundelein coach Todd Parola said. "Due to a lot of time on his own in the cages and taking grounders, he has made himself into one of the better first basemen in the area." Holander finished with a .387 batting average, 26 RBI and 12 doubles.
Ian Kristan CarmelThe Carmel pitching staff combined for an impressive 1.96 earned run average, and head coach Dann Giesey puts some of that credit behind the plate, with Kristan. Kristan was the Corsairs' catcher. "Ian was a rock behind home plate for us again," Giesey said. "He was a big reason for (the low ERA). He did an outstanding job working with our pitching staff." On offense, Kristan finished with a .352 batting average with 37 hits, including 14 doubles, 3 triples and 3 home runs. He also drove in 25 runs for the Corsairs. "Ian was also a captain this year and you could not ask for a better young man to lead us," Giesey said.
Freddie Landers Grayslake CentralLanders proved his versatility this season, making the switch seamlessly to shortstop after having started the last two years at catcher for the Rams. "He's one of the most versatile players we've had come through the program," Grayslake Central coach Troy Whalen said. "He made the smooth transition (in changing positions) all while managing to hit above .400." Landers, a three-year starter, racked up 38 hits in 90 at-bats. He also smacked 12 doubles and drove in 28 runs. He had a .408 batting average.
Simeon Lucas GrantDrafted in the seventh round by the Cleveland Indians, Lucas is ready to give pro baseball a try. He seems well-prepared after another banner season for the Bulldogs. "He played almost every game in front of multiple pro scouts," Grant coach Dave Behm said. "He finished his three-year varsity career at Grant with amazing stats." For his career, Lucas maintained a .429 batting average and rolled up 122 hits, including 38 doubles and 18 home runs. He also had 113 RBI. Lucas, the Bulldogs' starting catcher, was a major part of 67 wins at Grant, including a third-place finish at state two years ago.
Andrew Mack LibertyvilleMack was as solid as a Mack truck for Libertyville. He was technically the Wildcats' No. 2 pitcher after ace Jeff Barton, but Mack pitched as if he were the No. 1. Mack finished with a 7-2 record, 3 saves in 3 opportunities and a 2.00 earned run average. "He's been our steady guy and every time he took the ball, he made good on the opportunity," Libertyville coach Jim Schurr said. "He can be a power pitcher, but he's also got good finesse."
Sean McHugh Grayslake NorthMcHugh improved his stock significantly over the off-season. As a junior last year, he pitched mostly in JV games. "Sean is a great example of what a kid can accomplish with a lot of hard work and a great attitude," Grayslake North coach Andy Strahan said. McHugh set a single-season record for wins (8) and finished with the second-lowest earned run average in school history (1.52). McHugh went 8-2 on the season and rolled up 38 strikeouts in 40⅓ innings pitched. He also issued just 11 walks.
Michael Metz MundeleinTeamed up with shortstop Derek Parola, Metz, the Mustangs' second baseman, was in on countless double plays. But Metz also made a difference on the mound. "We weren't even sure he was going to pitch for us at the start of the year because we love having him play defense for us," Mundelein coach Todd Parola said. "But he's been very competitive on the mound and we needed to get him there as much as possible. He did a great job both pitching and playing second for us." Metz went 7-1 on the mound, which included a big win over Libertyville in the sectional. He boasted a 1.72 earned run average with 63 strikeouts and just 11 walks in 57 innings. At the plate, Metz had a .313 batting average with 24 RBI and 10 doubles. He also rolled up 18 stolen bases.
Danny Neises Lake ZurichNeises led Lake Zurich in many statistical categories, but it was his actual leadership that might have been more important. "Danny led our team on and off the field and was our rep for sportsmanship and character in the North Suburban Conference," Lake Zurich coach Chuck Gandolfi said. "He's one of the most pleasurable competitors I have ever coached." Neises, who was voted team captain and most valuable player, rolled up 37 hits in 101 at-bats for the Bears. He had 3 doubles and drove in 15 runs and finished with a .366 batting average.
Nick Newman Vernon HillsNewman hit the century mark this season, finishing with an amazing 108 strikeouts. That is a single-season record at Vernon Hills. "The way the year started for Nick, he was untouchable," Vernon Hills coach Jay Czarnecki said. "He came down to earth a bit, which could be due to a blister that was on the tip of his index throwing finger, but he never complained and never made excuses and he did whatever he could do to make it work, even putting crazy glue on it." Newman finished with an 8-2 record and a 1.94 earned run average. He will be playing at St. Cloud State next year.
Ryan Newman Round LakeNewman will be playing at Milwaukee School of Engineering next fall, which should be a perfect fit. Newman just spent the last four years as the engine behind both the Panthers' offense and defense. "Ryan is the player that every coach loves to have," Round Lake coach Ed Adamson said. "He helps you in all phases of the game. When he was on the mound, he always gave us a chance to win and compete. Defensively (at shortstop), every time the ball was hit at him, we were confident the play was going to be made. Offensively, he batted close to .500, so any time he came to the plate with runners in scoring position, we were confident we were going to score a run." Newman led the Panthers with a .475 batting average with 5 doubles and 5 triples. He also drove in 15 runs. On the mound, he rolled up 53 strikeouts in 41 innings. His best game was a 15-strikeout effort in seven full innings.
Ryan Noda GrantWhether in the field or at the plate, Noda could draw oohs and ahhs from the crowd. "He is a fantastic outfielder who has made numerous diving catches to turn doubles into outs for our pitchers," Grant coach Dave Behm said. "His (offensive) stats are incredible." Noda blasted an amazing 11 home runs this season while driving in 47 runs. In 76 at-bats, he had 33 hits, including 6 doubles and 2 triples. He finished with a .434 batting average. Noda was also a threat on the base paths, stealing a team-high 14 bases. "He will be playing at Cincinnati next year and he has a bright future ahead of him in baseball," Behm said. "He's been a part of 67 victories at Grant, including a third-place finish at state."
Derek Parola MundeleinParola, known for his rock-solid defense at shortstop, got his bat going in the postseason. In helping Mundelein advance to the Rockford supersectional, he went 7-of-10 at the plate in two sectional victories. "He really picked it up when we needed it most," Mundelein coach Todd Parola said of his son. "He was a big reason we won the sectional. He also was outstanding on defense all year long. Along with (second baseman) Mike Metz, Derek formed one of the better double-play teams in the area, if not the state. In every close game, we got at least one or two key double plays." Parola finished with a .355 batting average, 20 RBI, 10 doubles and 2 home runs.
Luke Peterson MundeleinPeterson did exactly what he was supposed to do as the No. 5 hitter in the order. He drove in runs, a team-leading 36, to be exact. "He was a key guy for us all year offensively," Mundelein coach Todd Parola said. "He did a great job of being a big-time run producer for us. He was really good in the middle of the lineup." Peterson played some left field and third base for the Mustangs. "He's such a good athlete, he could play all fields," Parola said. Peterson finished with a .413 batting average, including 14 doubles, 5 triples and 2 home runs. He also rolled up 15 stolen bases.
Quentin Sefcik CarmelSefcik wasn't exactly the most generous pitcher this season. "Quentin stepped up into the ace role and out of nine starts, he gave us a shutdown performance in eight," Carmel coach Dann Giesey said. "He did not back down at any time and we knew every time he took the hill we were going to win. He had an outstanding year for us and was a complete pitcher in his command, makeup and his leadership." Sefcik went 5-1 on the season. In 56 innings pitched, he rolled up 71 strikeouts with only 23 walks and 38 hits. He finished with a 1.50 earned run average.
Joe Sisk LakesYou would have thought Joe Sisk was a lifer at first base. He was nearly perfect there, after all, committing just 1 error in 176 chances. But Sisk just moved to first base for his senior season, after two seasons in left field. "He was a standout at first base," Lakes coach Ray Gialo said. "He also led the team in most offensive categories, including batting average, home runs, RBI and walks." Sisk finished with a .388 batting average, 3 home runs and 26 RBI. He also had 6 doubles and a triple. A three-year starter on varsity, Sisk will be playing at Carthage College next year.
Evan Skoug LibertyvilleOne of the best hitters in the area, Skoug didn't get an opportunity to show it as much as he would have liked. Many teams chose to intentionally walk Skoug this season to avoid the damage he could do with a bat. In fact, it wasn't uncommon for him to be intentionally walked once or twice a game. And yet, with about 40 walks, Skoug still finished as one of Libertyville's top hitters. He had close to a .400 batting average. "There aren't many people who can hit a baseball the way he can," Libertyville coach Jim Schurr said. "He's got the power of a Major League hitter as an 18-year-old. He's been blessed with the tools to do that, but he's also worked so hard to get the maximum out of those tools." A four-year starter at Libertyville, Skoug will be playing at TCU next season.
Chase Slota LakesJust a junior, Slota is already getting serious looks from multiple Division I schools, who love the way he can take control of a game from the mound. "Chase was dominating in his victories," Lakes coach Ray Gialo said. "Opposing teams hit only .172 against him. He threw a 1-hitter against Grant, 2-hitters against Vernon Hills and Wauconda and a 3-hitter against Crystal Lake South." Slota finished with a 6-1 record and a 1.84 earned run average. He rolled up 33 strikeouts in 38 innings pitched.
Andrew Stone GrantStone was rock-solid on the mound. He put together a perfect 8-0 campaign as the Bulldogs' ace and played a big role in Grant's North Suburban Conference Prairie Division title. "Andrew used his great control (only 8 walks in 50 innings) and a mix of off-speed pitches that kept hitters off-balance all year," Grant coach Dave Behm said. Stone finished with a 1.08 earned run average. He also had a team-high 36 strikeouts while allowing only 6 earned runs.
Player School Yr. Pos.
Jeff Barton Libertyville Sr. P
Pat Crowley Vernon Hills Sr. OF
Ben Dinter Warren Sr. OF
Merrick Gentile Grayslake North Soph. IF
Justin Guryn Grayslake Central Jr. P
Adam Harvey Antioch Sr. C
Andrew Hill Warren Jr. P
Jay Hoffmann Grayslake Central Jr. IF
Ryan Holander Mundelein Sr. IF
Ian Kristan Carmel Sr. C
Freddie Landers Grayslake Central Sr. IF
Simeon Lucas Grant Sr. C
Andrew Mack Libertyville Sr. P
Sean McHugh Grayslake North Sr. P
Michael Metz Mundelein Sr. P/IF
Danny Neises Lake Zurich Sr. IF
Nick Newman Vernon Hills Sr. P
Ryan Newman Round Lake Sr. P/IF
Ryan Noda Grant Sr. OF
Derek Parola Mundelein Sr. IF
Luke Peterson Mundelein Jr. IF
Quentin Sefcik Carmel Sr. P
Joe Sisk Lakes Sr. IF
Evan Skoug Libertyville Sr. C
Chase Slota Lakes Jr. P
Andrew Stone Grant Jr. P
Honorable mentionP/OF Alex Alvarez, Grayslake North, sr.; IF Justin Blasinski, Lakes, jr.; IF Willie Bourbon, Stevenson, jr.; IF Jake Boyer, Vernon Hills, sr.; IF Matt Burch, Warren, soph.; IF Kyle Clark, Grayslake Central, sr.; P Dom DiProva, Grayslake North, jr.; IF Steven Elrod, Lake Zurich, jr.; C Jordan Freibrun, Vernon Hills, sr.; IF John Goehrke, Vernon Hills, sr.; P Mitch Goll, Stevenson, sr.; IF Jimmy Govern, Libertyville, jr.; IF Noah Greenberg, Libertyville, sr.; OF Bryan Gross, Lakes, jr.; IF Copper Johnson, Carmel; OF Riley Lees, Libertyville, soph.; P Jacob Lewis, Grant, jr.; P David Llorens, Grayslake Central, jr.; OF Matt Loeffl, Grayslake Central, sr.; OF Joe Lovelle, Wauconda, sr.; P Russ Lundius, Grayslake Central, sr.; P Garrett McClellan, Carmel; P/IF Tyler Meyer, Wauconda, sr.; P/OF Andrew Mikusa, Grayslake North, sr.; C Joey Morris, Stevenson, sr.; C Sam Nozicka, Grayslake Central, soph.; P Joey Olker, Stevenson, sr.; P/IF Ben Peterson, Wauconda, sr.; C Logan Reckert, Mundelein, sr.; P Vince Rotunno, Lakes, sr.; P/OF Tyler Sanchez, Round Lake, jr.; OF Conor Simpson, Libertyville, sr.; OF Matt Skarzynski, Carmel; P/IF Trevor Staley, Lake Zurich, jr.; P Brian Stanislawski, Carmel; P/OF/C Tino Torres, Grant, sr.; P Mitch Townsend, Libertyville, jr.; P Adam Turner, Mundelein, sr; C Colton Wagner, Lake Zurich, sr.; IF Will Zitkus, Grant, sr.; P Sam Zoibi, Lake Zurich, jr.
Selections and capsules by Patricia Babcock McGraw