Scouting DuPage County baseball
Coach: Mike Kennedy.
Last year: 12-19, 9-9, tied for third in West Suburban Gold; lost 11-1 to Lake Park in Class 4A Addison Trail regional quarterfinals.
Top players: Nick Villasenor, jr. P; Robert Baughman, sr. C; Nick Fugarino, sr. P-OF; Cosme Garcia, sr. 3B; Angelo Feola, sr. SS; Jack Kalbas, jr. IF-P; Ricky Perez, jr. OF; Trevor Fulmer, so. P-1B; Simon Marinelli, so. C-IF; Michael Williams, jr. OF; Dom Zumpano, jr. OF-DH.
Scouting report: It takes pitching to compete in the Gold, and the Blazers believe they have the arms. Villasenor returns after winning five games and striking out 60 with a 1.57 ERA. With the addition of 6-foot-2, 200-pound Fulmer, the Blazers could have a nice 1-2 punch on the mound. "If our pitching comes through like we think it can, we could be pretty good in that department," Kennedy said. The batting order doesn't return much, although Feola led last season's team with 17 RBI. The good news is the team depth. If players struggle, options are on the bench. Fugarino, Feola, Fulmer and Perez look ready to step up. Another year of Baughman catching boosts the defense, as does a speedy outfield with Fugarino, Williams and Perez.
Coach: Scott Lawler.
Last year: 20-18, 7-11, tied for seventh in East Suburban Catholic Conference; lost 10-1 to Nazareth in Class 3A Nazareth sectional semifinals.
Top players: Alex Tassos, sr. 3B; Dan Sobolewski, sr. 1B; Josh Tumpane, sr. OF; Alex Analitis, sr. P; Bobby Ernsting, sr. P-2B; Mike Dunn, jr., P-SS; C.J. Birck, jr., P-2B; Alec McEachern, jr. OF; Erik Jones, jr. OF; Marty Dosen, jr., OF-C-P; Jake Barnhart, sr. C; Joey Christensen, sr. P; Steven Arrowsmith, jr. P; Matt Moloney, jr. P; Tyler Bautista, jr. OF.
Scouting report: Considering their brutal nonconference and ESCC schedule, the Redwings may not have a gaudy record by the end of the regular season. Benet, however, will be one of the area's top teams and a threat to do damage in the Class 3A playoffs. The team's coming off a regional title and a top-four finish in the summer state tournament. "We have a lot of competitive guys who know how to win," Lawler said. Stat-wise there isn't much returning for Benet offensively beyond Sobolewski's .284 average and 13 RBI, but Tassos carried the team at times in the summer. With Dunn, Christensen, Analitis, Ernsting and others, Benet has the arms to compete with just about anyone.
Downers Grove North
Coach: Chad Isaacson.
Last year: 24-13, 11-7, tied for second in West Suburban Silver; lost 12-2 to Downers South in Class 4A Romeoville sectional semifinals.
Top players: Brendan Shanahan, sr. C; Dallton Baran, sr. SS; Ryan Cantlin, sr. P; Justin McCartney, sr. OF; Tyler Rosen, jr. P-IF-OF; Nick Taviani, jr. P; James Krick, jr. P-1B; Tim Brown, sr. P; Trey Romay, jr. 2B; David Giuliano, jr. OF; Anthony Swanson, sr. C.
Scouting report: After graduating a large senior class, the Trojans reload with a large junior class. The team's core, though, is a trio of experienced seniors in Shanahan, Baran and Cantlin. Shanahan and Baran both hit in the mid-.300s last season while Cantlin, the Trojans' lead pitcher, went 5-2 with a 2.29 ERA. "There's some talent," Isaacson said, "but with our youth we'll have to do the little things to have success." A key for the pitching staff is for arms to emerge beyond Cantlin. Even though they're juniors, Rosen and Taviani both saw varsity innings as sophomores. Giuliano was also brought up at the end of last season. With Shanahan behind the plate, Baran at shortstop and Romay at second, Downers North aims to develop strong defense up the middle.
Downers Grove South
Coach: Darren Orel.
Last year: 30-6, 18-0, first in West Suburban Gold; lost 3-1 to Plainfield North in Class 4A Romeoville sectional final.
Top players: Danny Oriente, sr. C-OF; Corey Vondra, 3B-OF-P; Robert Justus, sr. 2B; Ben Ficht, sr. DH-OF; Zack Jones, sr. P; Ty McCulloch, sr. P-1B; Mike Greco, jr. P; Brett Riegler, so. C; Nick Stacey, so. OF; Charlie Walsh, jr. SS; Grant Fisher, jr. P; Jack Villa, sr. 1B; Frank Gordey, sr. OF; Michael Hall, so. OF-IF; Cameron Crowley, so. P-IF.
Scouting report: Thirty wins and an unbeaten Gold romp may not be repeated, but the Mustangs still plan on competing for titles again. Two of their top pitchers return in Jones and McCulloch and the Mustangs also return one of the state's top hitters in Louisville-bound Oriente, who last season hit .560 with 25 extra-base hits and 39 RBI. Other than Vondra and Justus, though, not much more experience returns. "We may not have a set lineup for a while," Orel said. "We're going to be moving around a lot of guys." One thing that's set is the top of the rotation with Jones, committed to Illinois, and McCulloch. Jones went 10-1 with a 2.63 ERA while McCulloch had a 2.37 ERA.
Coach: Dave Schwabe.
Last year: 13-16, 8-11, fifth in Metro Suburban Conference West Division; lost 7-1 to Marian Central in Class 3A Fenton regional semifinals.
Top players: Bryan Larsen, jr. SS-P; Corey Schwarz, sr. C-3B; Tommy Mach, jr. C-IF-OF; Saul Aguirre, sr. 3B-OF-P; Alejandro Orosco, sr. 1B-2B-P; Garrett Focht, jr. 1B; Nick Merchado, jr. OF; Jordan Vogel, jr. P; Joey Simoncelli, jr. 2B-SS.
Scouting report: Without power bats in the lineup and without power pitching on the mound, the Bison will lean on fundamental baseball to win games this season. That means utilizing team speed that begins at the top of the order with Merchado. It also means steady defense up the middle with Schwarz, Larsen and Merchado. "Our strength is our speed, so we'll be trying to manufacture runs," Schwabe said. "We need to figure out our corner outfield spots, but our infield defense should be as good as we've had in a long time." Larsen made a huge impact as a sophomore, batting .479, while Orosco and Schwarz both hit in the mid .300s. Orosco had a 2.77 ERA in 40 innings pitched, but Schwabe also expects Vogel to be a key arm at the top of the rotation in his first varsity year.
Coach: Joel Pelland.
Last year: 18-15, 14-10, tied for fourth in Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division; lost 6-2 to Rolling Meadows in Class 4A Geneva regional quarterfinals.
Top players: Michael Sebby, sr. P-OF; Ryan Schefske, sr. SS-P; Joey Moore, sr. OF-IF-P; Phil Abruzino, sr. OF; Jake Heyman, sr. P-1B; Richard Masciopinto, sr. C; Jack Moran, sr., 2B; Nathan Bertuca, jr. OF; Brett Tomlinson, jr. P.
Scouting report: Led by three-year starters Sebby, Schefske and Moore, the Rams plan to thrive in the revamped UEC Valley that lost the three District 204 schools to the DuPage Valley Conference. "We'll be looking to our seniors for leadership and experience," Pelland said. "It's a good group." Sebby, committed to Illinois State, returns as the team's ace after striking out 60 in 56 innings with a 1.99 ERA last season. Sebby, who drove in 23 runs, and Schefske both batted over .300. Heyman, meanwhile, had a sub-3.00 ERA in 46 innings on the mound. Schefske and Moore also pitched varsity innings last season, but significant experience is limited behind Sebby and Heyman. The batting order is strong at the top with Schefske, Moore, Sebby, Bertuca and Abruzino.
Coach: Rich Smelko.
Last year: 26-11, 15-5, first in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 7-5 to Oak Park in Class 4A Boomers Stadium supersectional.
Top players: Nick Barrett, sr. SS; Zach Heck, jr. C; Alex Taylor, sr. 1B; Mark Cerabona, sr. P-2B; Neal Shah, sr. P-OF; Kyle Tintera, sr. OF; Nick Kuhar, jr. P-OF; Anthony Sottile, jr. OF-IF; Nick Frawley, jr. P-IF.
Scouting report: Recovering from major graduation losses, the reigning DVC champions will defend the title with a completely different group. "It's pretty wide open in terms of who's going to play at a lot of positions," Smelko said. "Everyone's going to get plenty of opportunities early in the season. It's a work in progress right now." There are some definites in the lineup, however. Barrett shifts from second base to shortstop and Heck returns behind the plate. Both were pivotal bats in the lineup, with Heck batting .350 and Barrett hitting .439 with 22 RBI. They'll be in the middle of the order while players like Taylor and Cerabona will fill in around them. The Panthers graduated their top three starters from a very good pitching staff. Shah, who pitched 30 innings last season, will step up to the No. 1 spot. Cerabona, Kuhar and Frawley will be in the mix.
Coach: Mike Riley.
Last year: 23-11, 12-6, third in Metro Suburban Conference West Division; lost to Benet 7-6 in Class 3A Nazareth sectional semifinals.
Top players: Kyle Carli, sr. C; Tim Marks, sr. OF-3B; Michael Ashe, sr. 3B; Fabian Garcia, sr. P; Sean Cooke, jr. OF; Joey Gedwill, sr., IF-P; Joey Cimaglia, sr. OF-P; Mike Marsden, sr. 1B-C-P; Dan Opem, jr. 1B-C-P; Kyle Zygadto, jr. P-3B; Johnny Faragoi, jr. IF; Christian Dupuis, jr. P-SS.
Scouting report: Twenty-plus wins and vying for the MSC West title has become the norm, and this season will be no different behind a pair of three-year varsity members in Carli, who last season hit .352 with 31 RBI, and Marks. Ashe came up late his sophomore year and last season batted .364 with 34 RBI. Cooke, an all-state running back, showed tremendous power in the summer. If others in the lineup emerge, the Raiders should be potent. "It's a scrappy group," said Riley, who's retiring at the end of the school year after 17 seasons at the helm and 30 overall as a head coach. "You'll have to play seven innings to beat us because we're not going to beat ourselves." Garcia returns a 2.56 ERA and leads the staff with Zygadto. Success depends on developing mound depth.
Coach: Andy Schultz.
Last year: 15-18, 6-12, sixth in West Suburban Silver; lost 8-4 to Lake Park in Class 4A Addison Trail regional final.
Top players: Arno Curtis, sr. 3B-1B-P; Zach Lutz, sr. OF-P; Elliot Hamilton, sr. 1B; Matt Shoub, sr. SS; Justin O'Neal, sr. P; Sam Kaske, jr. P; R.J. Paul, sr. C; Kevin Spencer, jr. C-IF-OF; Andrew Zienty, jr. 3B; D.J. Ficarella, jr. OF.
Scouting report: With their top four pitchers from a year ago all back, the Hilltoppers return more than 150 innings on the mound. O'Neal and Lutz combined for 20 starts while O'Neal and Kaske combined for 8 victories. In the rugged Silver Division, pitching experience will be a significant advantage. "As an inexperienced staff last year they did a nice job for us," Schultz said. "And they've only gotten a year better and a year more mature." The graduation of four-year varsity member Will Simoneit, a standout catcher, epitomizes the loss of power in the lineup. More speed based, the Hilltoppers will rely on Ficarella being active on the bases at the top of the order along with Lutz, Kaske and Spencer. Curtis, who will play at the University of Chicago, hit .293 last year with 20 RBI.
Coach: Jason Ziemer.
Last year: 19-15, 11-7, tied for second in West Suburban Silver; lost 10-0 to Downers North in Class 4A Neuqua Valley regional semifinals.
Top players: Andrew Jurack, sr. P-OF; Rob Dandorph, sr. 1B-P; Alex Herbst, sr. OF-P; Jake Ryder, sr. SS; Drew Mullarkey, sr. 1B-C; Spencer Tate, sr. P-3B; Eric Stephens, sr. P-1B; Quentin Wallace, so. C-P; Andrew Zapka, jr. OF-P; Peter Pigatti, jr. C.
Scouting report: The Red Devils leaned heavily on two graduated players in Michael Johnson and Chris Botsoe, who's now at Louisville. While their departure hurts, the team enters the season with a more balanced lineup and a deeper pitching staff. Fitting together the pieces may take time, but the options are many. "We don't have any standouts, but the overall depth should be a lot better," Ziemer said. "We may need to experiment a little to figure out the lineup." Jurack returns 45 innings pitched with a 2.98 ERA. Dandorph and Stephens also should figure heavily into the rotation. Herbst, who hit .328 with 15 RBI, Ryder, Mullarkey and Jurack are the key bats. The senior and junior class both won Silver titles at the lower levels, so this group is accustomed to success.
Coach: Paul Hoel.
Last year: 17-15, 9-9, tied for third in West Suburban Gold Conference; lost 5-0 to Downers South in Class 4A Hinsdale South regional semifinals.
Top players: Frank Basic, sr. P; Charlie Klemm, jr. P; Terrence Cribbs, sr. 2B; Alex Briscolino, sr. P; Tim Dziergas, sr. P-1B-DH; Dan Schimmel, sr. SS; Aaron Frueh, sr. 1B; John Colucci, so. P; Mike Nicosia, sr. OF; John Stoltz, jr. C; Dan Mazzei, jr. OF; Zach Duffy, sr. OF; Jaxon Herchenbach, jr. P-3B.
Scouting report: Competitive with a young group last season, the Hornets are a year older and ready to significantly add to their victory total. "I think we'll hit real well and throw real well," Hoel said. "It's going to come down to how we glove it. That's where we'll have to show the most growth." Basic, last year's team MVP, and Briscolino formed the core of the Hornets' starting rotation, while Colucci won three varsity games as a freshman. Herchenbach, Klemm and many others will contribute on the mound. The entire outfield of Duffy, Mazzei and Nicosia returns as does Cribbs -- the team's best hitter -- in the three hole. With Schimmel, Frueh and Dziergas, the lineup has balance from one to nine.
IC Catholic Prep
Coach: Zach Rodeghero.
Last year: 12-22, 5-14, sixth in Metro Suburban Conference West; lost 2-0 to Lisle in Class 2A Timothy Christian regional semifinals.
Top players: Austin Reed, jr. Brendan Russ, jr. P; Brian Herrera, sr. P-1B-DH; Matt Sutton, jr. OF; Joey Salvi, jr. 1B-P; Mike Hoffman, so. C; Amari Reed, so. OF; Rob Malek, sr. IF; Andy Guzman, sr. OF-P; Jose Rodriguez, sr. OF; C.J. West, so. 3B-P; C.J. Slowinski, so. P-IF-OF; Matt Dewitte, sr. P.
Scouting report: The Knights are still pretty young, but the growing pains of a year ago should ease significantly this season. Especially with 15 home games to start and only nine total road games. "It's a good time for the program right now," Rodeghero said. "I think our window to compete is starting to open more and more." Four juniors and two sophomores saw significant playing time last year led by Austin Reed, who led the team with a .377 average and 24 RBI. Sutton, likely bound for the leadoff spot, batted .290 with 13 RBI. Russ, Reed and Herrera, up since his freshman year, form a solid pitching staff. With West and Salvi in support and Dewitte poised to close, it's also going to be a deep staff.
Coach: Dan Colucci.
Last year: 15-22, 6-14, tied for fifth in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 4-1 to South Elgin in Class 4A St. Charles East sectional semifinals.
Top players: Michael Nielsen, sr. C; Dom Fallico, sr. C; Connor Cook, sr. P-OF; Joe Kennedy, sr. OF; Brody Thompson, sr. OF; Colin Fowich, sr. SS-P; A.J. Ackerley, sr. 1B-P; Colin Jamison, sr. 3B; Jim McDonald, sr. 2B-P; Dan Lamz, sr. C-DH; Anthony Deconcilis, so. P-IF-OF; Paul Beverly, so. P-1B; Sean Cummins, jr. OF.
Scouting report: It's easy to see why confidence is so high with the Lancers. Between Cook, Ackerly, Fowich, McDonald and Nielsen the pitching staff returns nearly 200 innings and 14 wins from a team that surged to a regional championship. "Last year was a disappointment, but we're looking to clean up some of those mistakes," Colucci said. "Getting to the sectional last year really helped us grow." Fowich and Ackerly both hit .277 with a combined 25 RBI. While Fowich has been up on varsity since his freshman year, Ackerly and Nielsen have been up since their sophomore year. That experience shows on the mound but also at the plate, where the Lancers have the DVC's most experienced lineup.
Coach: Pete Meyer.
Last year: 12-17, 7-9, third in Interstate Eight Conference North; lost 6-5 to Westmont in Class 2A Timothy Christian regional final.
Top players: Christian Grego, sr. IF-P; Mark McGrath, jr. OF-P; Grant Haen, jr. C-IF; Zach Heidenry, so. IF-OF-P; David White, jr. IF-P; Jason Lauridsen, sr. IF-P; Drew English, sr. OF-P; Trevor Stitt, jr. IF-OF-P; Bryan O'Connell, jr. OF; Alex Rodriguez, sr., OF-P; Alec Van Volkenburg, sr. IF-P; Max Sokolowski, jr. IF.
Scouting report: The Lions enter the season shorthanded with Van Volkenburg, the team's top returning pitcher, out until mid-April with a knee injury, and Drew Sonnefeldt out for the season with a shoulder injury. Lisle will depend on several players stepping up. "We're going to have to scrap for everything we get," Meyer said. "We're going to have to run the bases well and we have to lean on our pitching and defense." With Van Volkenburg out for a while, Heidenry will step up to lead the pitching staff in his first varsity season. A number of other mound options exist, although Grego and White are the most experienced options with 44 combined innings returned. Grego, English and Haen all hit over .300. Combined with McGrath, they drove in 70 runs.
Coach: Craig Tomczak.
Last year: 21-14, 14-12, tied for fourth in Upstate Eight Conference Valley; lost 4-1 to Plainfield North in Class 4A Oswego regional final.
Top players: Connor Lovely, sr. SS-P; Jack Feeley, sr. OF; Blake Nicolls, sr. 3B-P; Blake Honda, sr. OF; Joey Coryell, sr. P; Anthony Greco, sr. IF; Bobby Fahrenkopf, sr. C; Mitch Reyes, jr. P; Matt Vass, jr. 1B.
Scouting report: Other than in the early years of the varsity program, this may be Metea Valley's least experienced team. That's especially the case on the mound, where the Mustangs graduated their top six pitchers from a very good staff. Coryell, Lovely and Nicolls bring back a total of only 24 innings. Up to nine junior arms, led by Reyes, will be relied upon to fill those lost innings. "Usually you have a couple of experienced pitchers coming back, but we lost a ton from that senior class," Tomczak said. "It'll be trial by fire for a lot of our pitchers." Lovely, Nicolls and Feeley will be tough in the heart of the batting order. While Lovely and Feeley hit in the mid-.300s last season, Feeley and Nicolls combined for 43 RBI. Honda and Greco bring back a total of 60 at-bats. They'll also be key in the lineup's top half.
Coach: Rich Janor.
Last year: 17-20; lost 14-4 to Nazareth in Class 3A Nazareth sectional semifinals.
Top players: Nicolas Malik, jr. C-OF; Alex Luka, jr. P-1B; Justin Blake, sr. OF-IF-P; Nick Steiner, sr. OF; Ben Steiner, so. 3B-P; Jake Rosley, sr. P-OF; Jake Karczewski, so. IF-P; Cooper Hynes, jr. C-DH; Jack Gerberich, sr. OF; Anthony Rogers jr. P; Danny Mallory, jr. P; J.R. Walsh, jr. SS-2B; Tommy Illich, sr. IF.
Scouting report: With a move to the White Division of the Chicago Catholic League, the Broncos need to step up their level of the play. They have the group to do it this season. "Hopefully, the caliber of the program rises when we play some of these teams," Janor said. "We've got the kind of team that can get the job done." With Luka and Rosley, a transfer from Glenbard West, at the top of the rotation, Montini has a pair of lefties capable of competing with anyone on its schedule. Rogers and Mallory, up from the sophomore team, and Karczewski add depth against a tougher schedule. Blake, the speedy quarterback of the Broncos' state title football team, will be dangerous at the top of the order. Luka, Malik and Hynes bring power to an experienced top half of the lineup.
Coach: Mike Stock.
Last year: 19-17, 11-9, third in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 4-3 to Plainfield North in Class 4A Romeoville sectional semifinals.
Top players: Ryan Eiermann, jr. P-1B; Zac Bianucci, sr. P; Connor Gurnik, jr. SS; Beau Buchanan, sr. sr. 2B; Charlie Walzer, jr. P; Austin Sherman, sr. OF; Jack Hughes, jr. C; Mike Mlotek, sr. P; Conor Joyce, sr. OF-P; Liam Heath, sr. P.
Scouting report: Eiermann, committed to Texas Christian, and Bianucci, committed to Michigan State, make the Redhawks a major contender in the DVC and beyond. Eiermann went 8-1 with a 0.56 ERA and 114 strikeouts in 75⅔ innings last year. Bianucci posted a 2.66 ERA in 23 innings, but improved tremendously in the off-season. Mlotek and Heath, who return 32 innings, and Walzer, a transfer from Germany, back up the duo on the mound. That being said, the Redhawks must overcome the graduation loss of major lineup bats. "It's an athletic group and a very competitive group," Stock said. "We're very excited about the potential." Gurnik, who will be somewhere in the top three of the batting order, hit .289 with 18 RBI as a sophomore. Other than Buchanan and Joyce, the rest of the lineup's mostly untested.
Coach: Carl Hunckler.
Last year: 17-16, 12-8, second in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 8-7 to Waubonsie Valley in Class 4A Marmion regional semifinals.
Top players: Christian Barczi, sr. C; Paul Dobravec, sr. 1B-P; Matt Pillatch, sr. P-OF; Eric Rodriguez, sr. P-OF; Colin Rivard, sr. SS; Jack Whitley, so. P-2B; Matt Schwartz, jr. P-3B; Zach Benaitis, sr. P; Brennan Simek, jr. OF; Kyle Cobb, sr. P-OF.
Scouting report: The Huskies graduated the bulk of their lineup and the majority of their pitching. Parker Aquino, who pitched on varsity as a freshman last year, moved out of the area. Naperville North, however, always finds a way to compete. "It's going to be an uphill climb for us, but we can do it," Hunckler said. "We'll just keep working hard." Only two players -- Barczi, committed to Valparaiso, and Dobravec -- return with significant at-bats. Barczi last season batted .365 with 20 RBI. Rivard, Pillatch, Schwartz and Rodriguez will fill key roles in the middle of the order. Like other recent seasons, expect to see a number of arms contributing on the mound. Pillatch returns 5 wins and 43 innings, but no one else threw more than a handful of innings. Pitching by committee will be common in games.
Coach: Robin Renner.
Last year: 25-11, 17-7, second in Upstate Eight Conference Valley; lost 6-0 to Downers North in Class 4A Neuqua Valley regional final.
Top players: Connor Rektorski, sr. P; Kevin Ringlein, sr. OF; Jake Dupre, sr. DH-P; Danny Wagner, sr. P; Ricky Castro, so. P; James Kulak, so. P; Austin Waeghe, jr. P; James Gargano, jr. SS; Eric Nelson, jr. OF; Tim Schneider, jr. OF; Max Vercautren, sr. 3B; Frank Esposito, sr. 2B; Joe Previti, sr. C.
Scouting report: This will be one of the Wildcats' least experienced teams in recent years, but that doesn't mean they won't be competitive as usual. It's a matter of how quickly the bulk of the roster gets up to varsity speed. "It'll be a different situation for us," Renner said. "There are so many variables and so many new faces. We'll be doing some experimenting to figure it out." The pitching staff returns 42 innings from Rektorski, who had a 2.13 ERA, and 28 from Wagner. Pitching may end up being a team strength if sophomores Castro and Kulak develop along with Waeghe. Ringlein, who last season hit .369, is the only experienced stick, so the batting order will be a work in progress. Team depth will help as the Wildcats sort it out.
Coach: Nick Hall.
Last year: 27-10; beat Morgan Park 5-4 in Class 3A third-place game.
Top players: Brett Whelton, sr. C; Tim Lilly, sr. 3B; Foster Heise, sr. 1B; Will Purdom, sr. OF; Tim Sullivan, jr. SS-P; Michael Beach, sr. OF; Colin Wisted, sr. P; J.P. Clifford, sr. P; Ryan Hodgett, sr. P; Cullen Geary, so. P; Nolan Pechan, jr. P-OF; Zach Crescenzo, jr. OF-IF; Connor Quinn, jr. OF-P.
Scouting report: Not only are the Spartans being bumped up to Class 4A because of the IHSA's private school success factor, the Spartans are also moving to the Chicago Catholic Conference Blue to face state powers like Providence, St. Rita and Mt. Carmel. St. Francis has tremendous talent remaining from last year, but its record may not reflect it. "It's an opportunity for us to do some great things but it's going to be a huge challenge," Hall said. Whelton, a McNeese State recruit who last season hit .432 with 47 RBI, and Lilly, committed to Villanova, return big bats along with Purdom, Beach and Heise, who combined for over 100 RBI. The pitching experience is much thinner, although Wisted returns 3 wins in 28 innings. Hodgett's return from Tommy John surgery will bring a major boost.
Coach: Jim Snoeyink.
Last year: 11-14, 9-10, fourth in Metro Suburban Conference East; lost 8-1 to Westmont in Class 2A Timothy Christian regional semifinals.
Top players: Noah Marrera, jr. C; Carter Johnson, sr. OF-P; Joey Davidson, jr. 1B-3B; Patrick Roelofs, sr. 2B-P; Jimmy Allen, so. SS-P; Brian Schiff, jr. 3B-OF; Jimmy Brush, sr. OF-IF; Josh Anderson, jr. OF; Joe Bootsma, sr. OF; Sean Van Tholen, jr. OF-P; Nathan Bouman, jr. OF; Nick Tameling, jr. 1B-P.
Scouting report: A 12-player roster is obviously thin, but it's filled with experience. Replacing only two position players from last season, the Trojans should be strong out of the gate. "We can't afford any injuries, but it's a good group," Snoeyink said. "I feel like one through nine we're going to be pretty strong." Johnson was among area leaders last season with his .449 batting average. He also drove in 25 runs. Allen, who played every varsity game as a freshman, hit .387. A versatile group will help overcome the lack of numbers, especially on the mound. Johnson pitched 49 innings while Roelofs and Allen combined for another 53. Tameling, one of the few varsity newcomers, will also contribute on the mound.
Coach: Bryan Acevedo.
Last year: 28-6, 22-3, first in Upstate Eight Conference Valley; lost 10-3 to Naperville Central in Class 4A Marmion regional final.
Top players: Brandon Petersen, sr. P-1B; Jason Neville, sr. P; Nick Price, sr. C; Nick Santoro, sr. 2B-SS; Joe Spano, sr. OF-C; Casey Kemerling, sr. OF; Jacob Hennessy, sr. P; Quinton Zielke, sr. P-1B; Danny Miller, sr. P; Connor Yukna, jr. OF; Will Isdell, jr. IF-P; Alex Schram, jr. P; Luke Gregorio, jr, SS-2B.
Scouting report: After winning two straight UEC Valley titles, the Warriors will be favored to win another league title in the DVC. One look on the mound shows why. Western Michigan-bound Petersen went 6-1 with a 1.09 ERA while Jason Neville went 7-2 with a 1.34 ERA. In all, nearly 170 innings return, including four of the team's top six pitchers. Miller also returns after sitting last year because of injury. "We'll definitely be tough on the mound," Acevedo said. "They're only going to get tougher with another year under their belts." The batting order is more uncertain although Santoro, who moves from the nine spot to leadoff, Price and Petersen hit over .300. Price and Petersen combined for 43 RBI. Spano and Zielke also will keep the offense moving.
Coach: Dan McCarthy.
Last year: 14-18, 10-14, fifth in Upstate Eight Conference River; lost 4-1 to Geneva in Class 4A Geneva regional semifinals.
Top players: Justin Yackey, sr. C; Brian Sullivan, sr. 2B; Matt Dall, jr. SS; Kyle Olson, sr. P; Garrett Hosticka, jr. P-IF-OF; Jeff Zajac, so. P-IF; Chris Harding, jr. IF; Josh Bowen, jr. OF; Sean Flynn, sr. P-OF; Chris Bangert, jr. P; Rob Szulczewski, jr. OF.
Scouting report: McCarthy, who's retiring at the end of the school year, enters his final season at the helm of a team with a lot of question marks, especially on the mound. Olson, who last season pitched 36 innings as the team's No. 4 starter, is the most experienced arm. With no flame-throwers in the rotation, strong defense is a must. "Balls are going to be put in play and we're going to have to play good defense," McCarthy said. "For us to be competitive we're going to need some pitchers to develop and we have to play defense behind them." Yackey, who played well while starting half of last season, hit .353 while Sullivan drove in 17 runs. Dall and Zajac, also a starting pitcher, will be in the heart of the order. Szulczewski brings speed to the leadoff spot as part of an all-junior outfield,
Coach: D.J. Cocks.
Last year: 30-9, 13-3, first in Interstate Eight Conference North Division; lost 7-0 to St. Bede in Class 2A Benedictine University supersectional.
Top players: Joe Donovan, jr. C-P; Kevin Melvin, sr. OF-P; Jackson Fischer, sr. SS-P; Matt Alisauskis, sr. P-3B-DH; Kyle Domin, sr. DH-P; Adam Doll, sr. P-OF; Matt Niemeyer, sr. P-1B; Dan Fredericks, jr. P-2B; Alex Marotta, fr. P-OF; Tim Franczak, jr. P-1B; Adam Jagielo, sr. P-2B-3B; Caden Anderson, fr. P-OF-IF; Matt O'Leary, fr. P-SS.
Scouting report: The loss of Charlie Donovan, last season's Daily Herald All-Area Captain who passed away in November, will be felt as the Sentinels play in his memory. "We'll never get over it, but we can honor Charlie in everything we do and how we play the game," Cocks said. "He'll always be in our thoughts." Like the past few seasons, Westmont is capable of winning a state trophy. Michigan-bound Joe Donovan returns for a third varsity season after batting .454 with 10 homers and 43 RBI. Alisauskis drove in 19 runs. Melvin and Fischer, last year's Nos. 2 and 3 starters, combined for 14 wins and posted 2.15 and 1.91 ERAs. Three freshmen will contribute to this season's success.
Coach: Brad Byrne.
Last year: 28-7, 18-1, first in Metro Suburban Conference West; lost 9-8 to Kaneland in Class 3A Hampshire regional quarterfinals.
Top players: Christian Ebeling, sr. SS-P; Noah Ritchie, sr. 3B; R.W. Rienow, sr. OF-P; Harrison Taylor, jr. OF-P; David Thrasher, sr. C; Anthony Vavrinchik, jr. 2B; Matt Perna, sr. OF-2B; Kellan Mitchell, jr. 1B-P; Payton Sowa, so. SS-2B-P; Ryan Anderson, sr. OF-P; Adam Marquardt, sr. P.
Scouting report: Experienced up the middle with Rienow in center field, Ebeling at shortstop and Thrasher behind the plate, the Warriors have a solid base to build another title-caliber team in the Metro Suburban West. They must, however, develop pitching behind Ebeling, the most experienced returner. Taylor and Rienow are a good start while Ritchie, a third-year starter, is slated to be a closer. "We have kids who can throw well, but they don't have the experience in big games," Byrne said. "That's what we need to develop." Rienow, who stole 23 bases at leadoff, batted .384 last season while Ritchie and Ebeling, who hit well over .300, combined for 46 RBI. Mitchell, a varsity newcomer, will make an impact on the mound and at the plate.
Coach: Dan Schoessling.
Last year: 10-23, 6-14, tied for fifth in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 5-1 to Hoffman Estates in Class 4A Wheaton North regional quarterfinals.
Top players: Zach Colangelo, sr. P-OF; Sam Lawrence, sr. P; Ryan Muehlfelt, sr. SS-OF; Erik Mueller, jr. 3B-OF; Casey Becker, sr. P-1B; Ryan Kocher, sr. C; Jackson Gray, so. P-IF; Nick Barry, sr. P-OF; Pat Leahy, sr. IF; Ben Leander, jr. 3B-1B; John Carlson, jr. C-2B; Andrew Nelson, jr. P-1B.
Scouting report: With Colangelo and Lawrence leading the pitching staff, the Falcons aim to make a rare down season a distant memory. Last season they combined for 76 innings with Colangelo notching a 1.25 ERA and Lawrence, committed to Northwestern after a great offseason, having a 2.01 ERA. If Becker can get healthy, he adds another 45 innings of experience. Mound depth, though, could be an issue. "Last year was a tough year," Schoessling said. "We're hoping these seniors can go out on a high note. Hopefully we can stay healthy." Mueller, who's garnering scholarship offers in football, anchors what should be a much improved and deeper lineup. Muehlfelt sparks the top of the order.
Coach: Tim Brylka.
Last year: 12-21, 10-10, fourth in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 7-2 to Romeoville in Class 4A Neuqua Valley regional quarterfinals.
Top players: Spiro Pavlou, jr. OF; Drew Polezoes, jr. IF; Grant Negris, sr. P; Paul Monaco, sr. IF; Jack Zuback, sr. IF; Jeran Simpson, sr. IF; Jordan Coakley, sr. C; Jack Farley, jr. OF; Jack Kocinski, jr. IF-P; Griffen Pschigoda, jr. C-OF; Caleb Larson, so. P; Brandon Luna, jr. P; Jared Smaga, jr. IF-P.
Scouting report: With so many uncertainties due to an inexperienced roster, it's hard to say how the Tigers will play this season. An influx of talent, especially with the pitching staff, is boosting confidence. "I feel pretty good about our arms," Brylka said. "It's a matter of seeing if guys can throw strikes and keep us in games." Negris accounts for the bulk of the 32 innings returning, but most of it is in relief. Larson, Kocinski, Luna and Smaga are among the pitchers expected to emerge. A flexible lineup can go with speed or power. Pavlou, who last season stole 13 bases, and Polezoes gained valuable experience as sophomores. Simpson and Farley, the three hitter in the summer, are two of the power bats.
Coach: Vic Wisner.
Last year: 26-10, 14-4, second in West Suburban Conference Gold; lost 4-0 to South Elgin in Class 4A Wheaton North regional final.
Top players: Cam Zunkel, sr. P-SS; Kyle Ferguson, jr. 2B; Matt Garbacz, sr. P-IF; Matt Pizur, sr. P-OF; Mark Molitor, sr. OF; Kyle Martyniuk, sr. C; Jon Kelso, jr. OF; Ronnie Reitz, sr. P; T.J. Geritano, sr. OF; Chris DeSalvo, sr. 1B; M.J. Ranieri, jr. P-IF; Alec Michaelson, jr. P-IF.
Scouting report: Bolstered by one of the area's top pitchers in Zunkel and a defense that's rock solid up the middle, the Warriors again will be contenders in the Gold and in the playoffs. "The kids have high expectations for themselves, and they should," Wisner said. "They know the potential and they want to take this as far as they an go this year." Zunkel went 9-2 with a 1.69 ERA. Garbacz and Pizur return another 75 innings. In all, 20 of last season's 26 wins return. They'll be pitching in front of a good defense with Martyniuk behind the plate, Ferguson at second and Geritano, who missed last season with a knee injury, in center. That'll keep the team in games as the bats develop. Ferguson, who hit .322 with 28 RBI, is poised for a breakout year.
Coach: Dave Kalal.
Last year: 14-22, 9-9, fourth in West Suburban Conference Silver; lost 8-3 to Streamwood in Class 4A Schaumburg regional quarterfinals.
Top players: Cam Fowler, sr. P-OF; Matt Riecker, sr. P-1B; Joe Polowsky, sr. P-IF; Phil Schlitter, sr. OF; Mike O'Malley, sr. OF-IF; Mike Bernal, jr. C-3B; Nick Lee, jr. OF-P; Brennan McGovern, sr. P; Cole Miller, sr. P; Frank Romano, sr. 2B-SS; Austin Gelsomino, jr. OF-P; Will Dvorak, jr. P; Joey Yaeger, so. C-3B.
Scouting report: Surviving the grind in the Silver requires pitching, and the Dukes have plenty of it. Polowsky last season had a 1.68 ERA in 41 innings. McGovern, Riecker, Miller and Fowler added another 93 innings. Lee even picked up some varsity time as a sophomore. "It's always exciting to have those kinds of numbers back," Kalal said. "I think we'll be able to bounce back a little bit from last year." Speed defines a lineup that returns its entire outfield in Schlitter, a third-year varsity member who last season hit .297 with 18 RBI, Fowler and O'Malley. Gelsomino, the leadoff hitter, Lee and Riecker are also speedsters on the bases. From one to nine, Kalal expects this to be one of his best offensive groups.