Baseball: Lake County captain Schambow strikes fear in opponents in multiple ways

Libertyville junior catcher Quinn Schambow is a game changer.

Case in point: During an intense late-season nonconference game against Grayslake Central, the Wildcats held a 1-run lead in the top of the seventh, but were staring down a first-and-second, no-out situation.

“That is when Quinn took over the game,” Libertyville junior shortstop Cole Lockwood said.

After a batter missed a bunt attempt, Schambow, an easy pick as the 2024 Daily Herald Lake County All-Area baseball captain, picked off the runner at second with his 80-plus-MPH arm and pop time that sits in the mid-to-high 1.80s (that’s seconds).

“Completely shifted the momentum our way,” Lockwood, an NCAA Division I Valparaiso commit, noted.

And then, for good measure, a few pitches later, Schambow, committed to Oklahoma State University, back-picked the runner at first to clear the bases. The hitter then fanned to end the game.

“If those two back-picks don’t happen, I don’t know if we end up winning that game,” Lockwood said.

And then there is the hitting aspect. As Wildcats coach Matt Thompson recalled, in the final conference game of the season and with the conference title on the line against Stevenson, Schambow established important momentum quickly by striking a 2-run homer off the scoreboard in the first inning.

“He is such a weapon on both sides of the diamond,” Thompson said. “His ability to change the tone of the game can happen immediately. He can throw out a runner or back pick at any time and he can also get things going for us on offense.”

Schambow, also the starting quarterback on the Libertyville football team, hit .418 with a .559 on-base percentage and a .724 slugging percentage in helping his team win 26 games, earn a share of the North Suburban Conference title with Mundelein with a 12-2 mark and win a Class 4A regional title. The 2024 NSC player of the year also registered 10 doubles, 6 homers, 31 RBI and was walked a significant 30 times. He will head into his senior season with 91 career hits and 66 RBI to go with a .440 batting average, playing in one of the toughest Class 4A baseball conferences around.

Defensively, he threw out nearly 40% of runners trying to steal and had 6 pickoffs. One area observer noted many of the successful stolen-base attempts were due to other factors not related to Schambow’s catching abilities.

“He is that good that he changes the entire game,” Warren coach Clint Smothers said. “He completely shuts down the run game. And when he comes up to bat, I think we intentionally walked him three times. If first is open, you almost always take chances to walk him over a chance for him to put a run on the board with a home run or an RBI. He is one of the players nowadays that still plays the game the right way. I was very impressed with him and look forward to following him at the next level.”

Stevenson coach Nick Skala had equally strong words of praise/caution regarding Schambow.

“He has a pro arm,” Skala said. “He completely negates the run game, forcing offenses to get three hits an inning to score. His receiving and pitch framing are unmatched to any catcher I have seen in the surrounding area for the past two years. He will also pick off to any base at any time with precise accuracy, and most of the time it’s from his knees.”

Libertyville junior left-handed pitcher-first baseman Josh Holst said Schambow’s baseball instincts allow for him “to be aware of all things going on during the game.”

“He can throw out any baserunner at any given time because he is aware of their leads,” explained Holst, committed to the Air Force Academy to continue his baseball career.

“His arm is his biggest weapon that he has as a catcher. I play first base and every first=base coach made sure the runner knew Quinn had an arm and would throw at any given time. And Quinn’s receiving is the best I have ever seen. As a pitcher who likes to hit the bottom of the zone, his ability to bring balls up and make them look like strikes is a game changer.”

Schambow, who sports a 3.4 grade-point average and has his eyes on a possible business major down the road, as well as eyes on a possible professional baseball career, said one of his biggest adjustments this season was dealing with the high walk total. He’s been walked 59 times now in his 2-plus-year varsity career at Libertyville.

“As I am getting older, people are pitching me differently,” he said. “That’s a big change for me. I had to change my mindset and learn how to be mentally tough and take pitches and be patient, but also be aggressive at the same time and swing at that good pitch and drive it. I learned to have patience. I was walked a lot this year, but I am a team player. I’m not swinging at everything and I will give the stick to the next guy behind me and trust he can do his job.”

Schambow, who has trained for many years at the Slammers facility in Lake Forest and plays on its 17U travel team, said there is no secret sauce or trick to his continued improvement on the diamond.

“I have believed in myself and put trust in myself to trust what I have and to work hard,” said Schambow, who dabbles in youth baseball umpiring when spare time permits. “I have a long ways to go still, but I focus on getting better every day. It’s pretty cool to see what I have done the past few years and how much I keep improving and not flattening out. Sometimes players peak at a young age. I don’t take anything for granted.”

Thompson said Schambow brings an ultra-competitiveness to the table, “which we love,” he said.

“As a person, Quinn is very competitive and sometimes too hard on himself,” he said. “Playing baseball is difficult. You can have days where you don’t get a couple hits and he is learning that is OK. As long as he stays confident in his abilities, he will continue to develop into a great player.”

As for the future, Thompson noted the party is only getting started for Schambow.

“As he refines his skills there is no reason he shouldn’t get drafted,” Thompson said of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

  Quinn Schambow poses on the Libertyville High School baseball field, where he earned the title of Daily Herald 2024 Lake County All-Area Captain. John Starks/
  Quinn Schambow poses on the Libertyville High School baseball field, where he earned the title of Daily Herald 2024 Lake County All-Area Captain. John Starks/
  Libertyville’s Quinn Schambow slides safely into third base against Lake Zurich in a baseball game in Libertyville on Tuesday, April 23, 2024. John Starks/
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