The 2018 DuPage County All-Area Baseball Team

Updated 6/7/2018 11:20 AM
  • Zach Aehlert

    Zach Aehlert

  • Jimmy Allen

    Jimmy Allen

  • Bret Bushka

    Bret Bushka

  • A.J. Casmer

    A.J. Casmer

  • John Colucci

    John Colucci

  • Trevor Fulmer

    Trevor Fulmer

  • Jackson Gray

    Jackson Gray

  • Jake Kmiecik

    Jake Kmiecik

  • Nick Kosmetatos

    Nick Kosmetatos

  • James Kulak

    James Kulak

  • Grant Lalla

    Grant Lalla

  • Dax Meyer

    Dax Meyer

  • Evan Ranneklev

    Evan Ranneklev

  • Ryan Ross

    Ryan Ross

  • Nick Stacey

    Nick Stacey

  • Aaron Staehely

    Aaron Staehely

  • Cade Sullivan

    Cade Sullivan

  • Jon Vesevick

    Jon Vesevick

  • Taylor Westerhoff

    Taylor Westerhoff

  • Ryan Wheeler

    Ryan Wheeler

Zach Aehlert, Lake Park

One of DuPage County's elite hitters for three seasons, Aehlert set program records for all-time home runs, home runs in a season and RBI in a season. The senior catcher batted .448 with a 1.467 OPS, driving in 45 runs with 26 extra-base hits, including 11 home runs. "No matter the situation, he's prepared," coach Dan Colucci said. "And he usually comes through."

Jimmy Allen, Timothy Christian

Committed to Western Michigan University, Allen carried the Trojans to unprecedented success featuring two straight sectional titles. The senior shortstop and pitcher was invaluable in both spots. He hit .430 with 4 homers and 25 RBI. On the mound Allen won five games with a 1.82 ERA, striking out 69. "He was such a pleasure to coach," coach Jim Snoeyink said.

Bret Bushka, Glenbard East

A three-year starter as a junior, Bushka has become a program cornerstone for the Rams. The catcher is a rock behind the plate and spent a second season in the three spot in the lineup. Bushka, who also spent time at shortstop, hit .429 with a 1.140 OPS and 27 RBI. "He really helped guide and change the culture of our program," coach Joel Pelland said.

A.J. Casmer, Lisle

After the first two weeks of the season, Casmer became the dominant pitcher the Lions needed on their way to winning a regional title. The junior, who also played outfield, won eight games with a 2.13 ERA and 70 strikeouts. Casmer batted .354 and drove in 23 runs. "He has that ability to make everyone around him better with his confidence," coach Pete Meyer said.

John Colucci, Hinsdale South

Four years on varsity and Colucci made an impact in every single one. The senior pitcher ends his Hinsdale South tenure as the program's all-time wins leader with 22, including nine this season. In 66 innings he had a 1.69 ERA and 73 strikeouts with a 0.96 WHIP. "He throws three pitches at different speeds, and it really throws off hitters," coach Paul Hoel said.

Trevor Fulmer, Addison Trail

The Blazers' No. 2 pitcher his sophomore and junior seasons, Fulmer made a brilliant transition to become the team's ace this senior year. With a 7-0 record Fulmer helped the Blazers to their most wins since 2012. He struck out 81 with a 1.92 ERA in 62 innings. He also hit .315. "He stepped out on his own and really took over," coach Mike Kennedy said.

Jackson Gray, Wheaton North

The DuPage Valley Conference's co-player of the year, Gray was a bulldog during his three seasons on varsity. The senior played shortstop, third base and outfield before settling in at first base this year. Gray hit .353 with 31 RBI and a program-record 38 steals. He went 8-1 with a 1.61 ERA in 56⅔ innings. "He's a complete ballplayer," coach Dan Schoessling said.

Jake Kmiecik, Metea Valley

Kmiecik thrived in the two spot in the lineup for much of the season, but the Mustangs truly came together when he shifted to leadoff. The junior shortstop batted .446 with a 1.181 OPS, 41 runs scored and 25 RBI. Kmiecik had 3 wins and 2 saves while pitching critical innings. "He made all the right adjustments to be a better player," coach Craig Tomczak said.

Nick Kosmetatos, St. Francis

Hard to imagine Kosmetatos improving on his All-Area sophomore season, but the junior did just that. Competing in the ultracompetitive Chicago Catholic League Blue, the third-year starter at third base hit .444 with a 1.290 OPS, 3 homers and 23 RBI. The team's ace went 5-0 with a 2.35 ERA. "He's developed into one of the state's best players," coach Nick Hall said.

James Kulak, Neuqua Valley

Not much changed for Kulak during three varsity seasons. He was and still is among the state's top pitchers. Committed to Purdue, the senior is the program record-holder in all-time wins, strikeouts and shutouts. With a fastball topping at 91 mph, he went 6-1 with a 0.83 ERA, 0.85 WHIP and 73 strikeouts. "He takes what he does very seriously," coach Robin Renner said.

Grant Lalla, Glenbard West

It's no coincidence one of Glenbard West's best seasons in recent memory featured one of the program's best offensive performances. The senior first baseman came up as a sophomore and played part-time as a junior. This year Lalla hit .419 from the three hole with 26 RBI. "He turned himself into one of the better hitters we've had," coach Andy Schultz said.

Dax Meyer, Willowbrook

It's tough to expect much from a sophomore pitcher, but Meyer quickly shifted from Willowbrook's No. 3 starter to its ace. Meyer led DuPage County with 10 wins against no losses, including two playoff victories. He also had a save and a 1.54 ERA. "He just goes out and does whatever it takes to win," coach Vic Wisner said. "The kids started seeing him as a stopper."

Evan Ranneklev, Neuqua Valley

With a great eye and spraying to all fields, Ranneklev put up terrifying numbers. The senior outfielder set the single-season program record for triples with eight by utilizing gap power and tremendous speed running the bases. Ranneklev batted .470 with a 1.380 OPS, 33 RBI and 40 runs scored. "He's right there with the best hitters we've had," coach Robin Renner said.

Ryan Ross, York

Committed to Mississippi State as a junior, the future is obviously bright for Ross. The player of the year in the West Suburban Silver, the shortstop showed his versatility by moving to center field late in the season. Ross hit .435 with a 1.130 OPS, 26 runs scored, 26 RBI and 20 steals. "He wants to do whatever's best for the team," coach Dave Kalal said.

Nick Stacey, Downers Grove South

How important was Stacey? His teammates voted him MVP the last two seasons. The senior center fielder and pitcher was a three-year varsity member who moved from leadoff to the three spot in the lineup. Stacey hit .442 with 30 RBI and won six games on the mound with a 2.30 ERA. "He was definitely our best player the last two years," coach Darren Orel said.

Aaron Staehely, Benet

It's not easy hitting in the East Suburban Catholic Conference, but Staehely did just fine. The junior played great defense in the outfield while showing tremendous discipline at the plate. Staehely struck out only eight times in 107 at-bats. He batted .393 with 21 RBI and 22 runs scored. "He really came into his own this season," coach Scott Lawler said.

Cade Sullivan, Metea Valley

A sophomore in his second varsity season, Sullivan put together one of DuPage County's best offensive campaigns. Hard work and a high baseball IQ made it happen for the third baseman. Sullivan led the area with a .477 batting average and had a 1.205 OPS with 37 RBI and 14 doubles. "He has tremendous maturity as a baseball player," coach Craig Tomczak said.

Jon Vesevick, Wheaton North

When he was on the last two seasons, Vesevick was as good as any pitcher in the state. The senior wasn't overpowering, but he located well and mixed speeds to constantly keep hitters off-balance. Vesevick went 6-0 with a 1.57 ERA in 49 innings. "He's not a guy you want to hit against," coach Dan Schoessling said. "He's not afraid of anyone."

Taylor Westerhoff, Glenbard East

Westerhoff went into last season as a third-string shortstop and didn't pitch at all. This senior year he became the team's ace on the mound and steady presence in the middle infield. Westerhoff pitched 70⅔ innings, notching 8 wins with a 2.48 ERA. He hit .315 with 24 RBI. "He's one of those stories you'll talk about as a coach for years," coach Joel Pelland said.

Ryan Wheeler, Neuqua Valley

The 2018 Daily Herald DuPage County All-Area Baseball Captain, Wheeler was the spark for a team that won 66 games the last two seasons. He set the program record for all-time hits and batting average. The senior shortstop hit .449 with a 1.148 OPS, 47 runs scored and 25 RBI. "Without him I don't see us having the success we had," coach Robin Renner said.

Honorable mention

Ryan Behling (Lake Park, sr., P), Ricky Castro (Neuqua Valley, sr., P), Matt Cooney (St. Francis, sr., SS), Andrew Cronin (Metea Valley, sr., OF), Cameron Crowley (Downers Grove South, sr., P-OF), Jared Dunnett (Naperville North, sr., OF-P), Damien Guerrero (Lisle, jr., 3B), Joe Klein (Wheaton North, jr., OF), Jake Klepacz (Hinsdale South, jr., OF), Simon Marinelli (Addison Trail, sr., C), John McMahon (Glenbard South, jr., SS), Peter Mercurio (Hinsdale Central, sr., OF-P), Quinn Moriarty (Benet, sr., P), Matt O'Leary (Westmont, jr., SS), Jay Palmer (Lake Park, sr., P), Ryan Petersen (Glenbard West, sr., OF), Jack Rigoni (Neuqua Valley, sr., OF), Ben Steiner (Montini, sr., P-1B), Jack Whitley (Naperville North, sr., P-OF), Kyle Wisch (Hinsdale Central, jr., P).

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