Baseball: South Carolina recruits lead way for St. Viator, Maine South
The University of South Carolina baseball coaches will have their eyes on the Northwest suburbs this spring.
The Gamecocks have a pair of recruits in St. Viator's Jack Mahoney, who is senior, and Maine South's Zander Buchan, who is a sophomore. Both will be key factors in their teams' abilities to advance in the state playoffs.
St. Viator is back in Class 3A where the Lions won the state title in 2017.
"We have the pieces to go after a state trophy in June, said St. Viator coach Mike Manno, who returns six starters from last season.
"I believe the work ethic this group has will pay off at the end of the season. This could be one of our better teams we have had in the past eight years with a mix of starters and youth we have coming up."
Mahoney, who plays shortstop and pitches and has been clocked in the 90s, will be the first four-year starter in Viator history. The Lions also have a trio of three-year starters in Eric Adams, Joey Brunetti and Owen Hickey. Others who figure to be contributors are Brendan Callero, James Gorman and sophomores Casey Hintz, Dominic McKevitt and Tony Pluta.
Maine South is looking to make a deep run in the Class 4A playoffs. The Hawks are coming off a 19-14 season and have seven players that will be counted on to contribute.
Lead among them is Buchan, who mainly plays catcher, but can also play third or the outfield. Timmy O'Brien, who plays short and pitches, along with Sam Corbett, Michael Yager, Tyler Houck, Ben Sacor and Aidan Teahan, who are seniors, should all be key factors.
"We are a strong team," Maine South coach Brian Lorenz said. "We are led by seniors that played a lot last year. And our young guys are experienced. We have a strong schedule that is going to present a lot of challenges. If this team is clicking toward playoff time that is right where we want to be."
Maine West was one inning away from winning its third regional title last season This year the Warriors figure to be a contender, especially in the Central Suburban North.
The Warriors will be led by Nebraska commit Emmett Olson, who pitches and plays first. Sam Arnold, Michael Lindenmuth and David Roscoe also will play at the next level. Maine West will also look to Ray Ure, Liam Blackburn, Sumeet Saini, James Lindenmuth, Josh Outlaw and AJ Ross to be big contributors.
"This year's team is very senior heavy and has been very successful throughout the years," Maine West coach Michael Randazzo said. "The team has high expectations and we have a ton of depth at every position that will allow for a lot of competition between players. We expect to win conference and compete for a sectional title."
Maine East won a pair of games last season. The Blue Demons hope to change their fortunes this season behind seniors Jacob Butman, Balthazar Cabrales, Gus Cabrales, Jon Serrano, Nick Flores and Ankido Ishac. Chris Iliopoulos, who is a junior, and sophomore Mason Ishil are also keys.
"We were young last year, so bringing back multiple experienced starters this season will help," Maine East coach Ron Clark said. "We need to develop some young pitchers this year and our hitting needs to be more consistent throughout our lineup."
Leyden is hoping to contend in the West Suburban Gold. The Eagles will need a young group of juniors that include Zach Dempsey, Jordan Tokarz, Jason O'Donnell, Matt Espinoza and Elijah Diblich to come through to make that happen.
"Our pitching and defense need to improve," Leyden coach Robert Hamann said. "We feel our offense is in a good place, but we need to throw strikes and makes plays to compete. I am really excited to go to work with these guys this year. From day one we have had a real business-like attitude. This has a chance to be a really special season with this group."
Christian Liberty made a solid run at the Northeastern Athletic title last season. And with nearly his whole team returning along with more depth, Chargers coach Jeb Bennett thinks they could do that and more this season.
"This team has a solid core of upperclassmen who have been playing together for a long time," Bennett said. "I expect this team to be ready to play consistently well earlier in the season this year. I also expect them to play with confidence. Our depth this year with a bigger roster should allow us to move some people around and do more things in game to help us win."
Titus Bennett, Ethan Oskroba, David Law, Breckin Aiello, JD Elleson, Darryl Longbas and John Farish, all who had solid seasons last year, return. They along with a nice mix of newcomers could give CLA a deep run in the Class 1A playoffs.