By John Lemon
Brannon Barry, St. Charles East
The Saints weren't even sure they would get this Illinois State football recruit to come out for his senior baseball season but are they glad he did. Bary led the Saints with a .402 average and 19 stolen bases while totaling 10 doubles, 18 RBI and 19 runs and playing a phenomenal center field. "He's been a great leader for us," Saints coach Len Asquini said. "Offensively with his numbers and what he does with the guys keeping them together for a kid who was thinking about not playing baseball? Not sure where we'd be without him. He's been great at the plate pretty much all year and he runs the bases so well. He's taken a lot of hits away from other people, and strong arm too."
Ben Chally, Geneva
The senior batted .382, with 8 doubles, 4 home runs and 37 RBI, leading Geneva in several offensive categories while being named to the Upstate Eight all-conference team. Also had a solid season pitching with a 3-0 record, 4 saves and a 0.00 ERA. "Ben had a real nice senior season," Geneva coach Matt Hahn said. "He led in many offensive categories and was a nice weapon on the mound."
Micah Coffey, Batavia
The future Minnesota Golden Gopher hit .360 with 9 doubles, 24 RBI and 12 steals after batting .386 his junior year with 11 doubles, 3 home runs and 25 RBI. His hits were incredibly timely, none more than his 2-out, 2-strike game-tying double in the 8th inning against Bartlett in the regional opener. "Micah was our clutch hitter," Batavia coach Matt Holm said. "While his overall average may have been down this year, he hit .451 with runners in scoring position. Moving him to third base solidified our defense and as a Gold Glove winner for the team, he made play after play that dazzled offenses. Micah was the leader of the team, he would let no one not live up to his expectations. The guys wanted to follow where he led them."
Nick Derr, Geneva
Geneva coach Matt Hahn pointed to a game against Neuqua Valley when Derr was walked intentionally with two outs and nobody on base to illustrate what a dangerous hitter this sophomore shortstop is. Hit .372 with 7 home runs, 22 RBI and 17 stolen bases before his season was cut short by injury. "Nick changes the game offensively," Hahn said. "He understands and reads pitchers so well. He is a threat in so many ways." Derr, a Florida State commit, is moving to Florida next year to attend IMG Academies and play on IMG's Signature Baseball Team.
Adam Eck, St. Charles East
This senior left-hander made as big of jump from his junior year as anyone in the area. After throwing just 6 innings last year, Eck developed into a big-game pitcher for the Saints. He finished with a 5-2 record, 1.83 ERA and 47 strikeouts, and his victories included wins over the aces from Fremd, Batavia and St. Charles North. "He's been on the mound against everyone else's best pitchers and gone pitch for pitch," Saints coach Len Asquini said. "He worked his tail off this summer to get ready. He's thrown big games. He's got big outs. He's done a wonderful job for us. His numbers are excellent, and he's pitched against some really good pitchers."
Laren Eustace, Batavia
The Indiana-bound senior's monster senior season included a .419 average, 40 runs, 8 doubles, 7 triples, 5 home runs, 28 RBI, 17 stolen bases and a .735 slugging percentage. As a junior he set a school record with 21 stolen bases while hitting .387 with 7 triples, 7 doubles and 3 home runs. "Laren was our leader in average, on-base, slugging in the leadoff position and second with 28 RBI. Would have had more if we had more production at the bottom of the order," Batavia coach Matt Holm said. "He was the engine to the offense and it revved very high this spring. He was a pleasure to watch play every day and just a fine person to have around the ball diamond. Indiana got an electric player."
Colby Green, Batavia
The senior's 7-1 record tied for the team lead in wins. Finished with an ERA of 0.81 and 46 strikeouts in 48 innings. No-hit South Elgin. Despite being a solid position player and hitter for Batavia in past years -- and he hit well on Senior Night against Kaneland in one of his few chances -- Green asked to focus on pitching this season. "He provided emotional leadership when on the mound and could just equally be anyone's ace," Batavia coach Matt Holm said. "He wanted to be what we call a P.O., or 'pitcher only' so he could just focus on winning games for the Bulldogs."
Anthony Holubecki, Kaneland
This sophomore showed why Division I colleges like Notre Dame -- where he committed -- were after him. With his fastball blowing away the opposition, Holubecki went 5-3 with 1 save and a 1.27 ERA, striking out 72 in 49 innings. Only allowed 21 hits including 2 hits in 9 1/3 postseason innings. Losses came against Moeller, the No. 5 ranked team in the country at the time, conference champ Morris, and Sycamore in the sectionals when he allowed 1 run and struck out nine. "Anthony was dominant on the mound," Kaneland coach Brian Aversa said. "Those numbers speak for themselves. Anthony is still young. A lot of people want to look at him like he's a senior. He's a big sophomore. He's got a lot to learn still and mature and fine tune his game."
Jacob Piechota, Batavia
One of three dominant starting pitchers that played a central role in the Bulldogs' conference and regional championship season, this Western Michigan-bound senior went 7-1 with a team-high 8 quality starts. Posted a 1.49 ERA with 68 strikeouts in 61 innings. Also was a big part of the Batavia offense with 31 RBI, 6 doubles, 4 triples and 2 home runs while batting .273. All Upstate Eight Conference River Division selection. "Jake didn't hit great for average, but he really worked to provide run production," Batavia coach Matt Holm said. "Can't win games without runs. He was equally effective in stopping runs from the mound. With good pop and the ability to keep base runners from moving he was our senior leader on the mound."
Alex Troop, Marmion
Committed to Michigan State, this 6-foot-4 left-hander dominated on the mound and also was the best hitter for a Marmion team that won the Suburban Christian Conference. Troop hit .329 with a .457 on-base percentage and .630 slugging percentage finishing with 6 doubles, 5 triples and 2 home runs in just 73 at-bats to drive in a team-high 24 runs. Opponents had virtually no chance against him, scoring 1 earned run in his 53 innings for a 0.13 ERA with 103 strikeouts and just 13 walks. Finished 5-0 including the first Class 4A postseason win in school history.
Cory Wright, St. Charles North
For all the impressive numbers this junior put up -- a 6-1 record, 1.62 ERA on the mound; team-high 28 runs, .358 average as the leadoff hitter -- it's the way he plays the game that stands out to St. Charles North coach Todd Genke. Committed to Kansas State, Wright's pickoff move shut down other teams' running games. He picked off a runner in each of the first four innings against Neuqua Valley. "He's the ultimate competitor," Genke said. "He just played the game the right way. He hustles everywhere. If you come to watch a baseball game you are going to notice Cory Wright whether he goes 0 for 4 or 4 for 4 the way he plays the game. He's our catalyst. We go like he goes. Our kids look up to him. He's a fun kid to coach."