Fox Valley All-Area Baseball Team
Max Anderson, Larkin
This senior delivered on the mound and at the plate. He led the Royals with a .419 batting average (34-for-89), 12 doubles and 16 RBI. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound left-hander finished with 76 strikeouts and a 2.42 ERA in 39 innings. He struck out 19 in Larkin's 8-0 victory over rival Elgin on April 24. In a 10-inning regional playoff win against Elgin on May 20, he struck out 14 over 9⅓ innings. "He was the heart and soul of our team," Larkin coach Niko Morado said. Anderson will continue his career at Elgin Community College.
Jacob Bimbi, Crystal Lake South
This junior developed into one of the area's most dependable pitchers. The 5-foot-10, 158-pound left-hander finished tied for the area lead with 8 victories in 12 starts. He notched 80 strikeouts, walked 23 and posted a 1.71 ERA and 1.031 WHIP in 53⅓ innings. His only loss came against eventual Fox Valley Conference co-champion Prairie Ridge on April 3. Bimbi avenged that defeat with a 6-inning, 10-strikeout performance in a 5-1 over the Wolves in a sectional semifinal on May 29. "Jacob Bimbi is a fierce competitor," Gators coach Brian Bogda said. "He was consistent all season." Bimbi batted .303 (30-for-99) with 5 doubles.
Nick Black, Geneva
This 6-foot-3, 185-pound senior's hobbies include crushing baseballs and collecting extra bases. The third baseman led the Vikings in slugging (. 702) and OPS (1.144). He belted 15 doubles, 2 triples, 6 home runs and batted .377 (43-for-114). "He did damage when he hit the ball," Geneva coach Brad Wendell said. "Every time he put the bat on the ball he hit it hard, gap to gap." The right-handed pitcher struck out 44 in 26⅓ innings over 9 appearances. He fanned 12 in a 1-hit shutout of Glenbard North on May 13.
Nick DeMarco, St. Charles North
Already committed to Notre Dame, this sophomore shortstop/closer helped the North Stars win the DuKane Conference outright and advance to the Class 4A state finals. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound right-hander has 6 saves in 6 opportunities. DeMarco has struck out 20 and walked 6 in 11⅔ innings over 9 appearances. He has allowed 1 earned run (0.60 ERA). The cleanup hitter enters the state finals batting .385 (40-for-104) with 10 doubles, a triple, 5 home runs and 36 RBI. He is 14-for-14 in attempts and has scored 24 runs. "Nick DeMarco is a special talent," St. Charles North coach Todd Genke said. "I look at him and it's hard to imagine he's only a sophomore. He brings a rare combination of power and arm strength."
Austin Doty, South Elgin
This fleet-footed center fielder helped South Elgin win the Upstate Eight Conference title by batting .414 (36-for-87). A left-handed hitter, he slugged .644 with 11 doubles and 3 home runs and led the Storm with a 1.184 OPS. The senior leadoff man drew 17 walks and was hit by 7 pitches in 112 plate appearances. He reached base at a 42.9% clip, stole 29 bases in 30 attempts and scored a team-best 36 runs for a squad that finished 25-6. He did not commit an error in 43 chances and made multiple diving catches. "He is a hard worker, a competitor and he likes challenges," South Elgin coach Jim Kating said. "Game in, game out, he brought it. He came up with some clutch hits and defensive plays to help win or save games. He exhibited good leadership skills. He pushed others to get better."
Kyle Hayes, St. Charles East
This sophomore won the area home run title in his second varsity season. The 6-foot, 209-pound power hitter launched nine baseballs over fences, three more than any player in the Fox Valley coverage area. "Words can't explain how much power that kid has," teammate Clay Conn said after Hayes blasted a walk-off solo home run to beat Geneva 8-7 on April 20. Hayes batted .307 (37-for-101) with 8 doubles. His 24 RBI tied for the team lead. He drew 18 walks, reached base in 41.8% of 122 plate appearances and scored 16 runs. He slugged .653 and posted a 1.071 OPS.
Egon Hein, St. Charles North
This second baseman is a driving force in the St. Charles North offensive engine. A starting safety for the school's state runner-up football team last fall, the 6-foot, 170-pound senior enters the Class 4A state finals batting a team-best .429 (42-for-98) with 14 doubles, a triple and 3 home runs. He will never forget April Fools' Day, when he hit 2 solo home runs off Cary-Grove star Quinn Priester, who was drafted No. 18 overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates Monday. North coach Todd Genke said Hein is as special a person as he is a player. "He is one of those kids that every coach should have the opportunity to coach," Genke said. "He's a mentor. He's a role model. And when he gets on the field he just does things at a different level."
Matt Jachec, Hampshire
A right-handed starting pitcher committed to Indiana State, Jachec has been the cornerstone of Hampshire's run to the Class 4A state finals. He pitched 10 innings in a 3-0 sectional semifinal win over Barrington and threw a 5-hit shutout against Oak Park-River Forest in the Boomers Stadium supersectional, all while managing a nagging blister. "What a thing," Hampshire coach Frank Simoncelli said. "He put us on his back. We needed him." The 5-foot-11, 200-pound senior enters the final weekend 7-3 in 11 starts with an area-best 0.61 ERA in 80 innings. He has struck out 110, walked 8 and owns a .725 WHIP. Jachec is also Hampshire's top hitter with a .381 average (43-for-113) and his 4 home runs are tied for the team lead. He also has 5 doubles, a triple and 29 RBI.
Danny Kinney, Burlington Central
Named Kishwaukee River Conference pitcher of the year, Kinney helped lead the Rockets to the league title and a Class 3A regional final appearance. The 5-foot-8, 155-pound left-hander finished 8-0 with 86 strikeouts and 21 walks in 56⅔ innings. He posted a 0.74 ERA and .829 WHIP. The senior held opposing batters to a .152 average. He faced 176 batters and allowed one home run. Over his final 3 appearances, Kinney held the opposition scoreless on 2 hits and struck out 16 in 12 innings. "Danny really bought into our offseason program and his dedication showed this year," Central coach Kyle Nelson said. "His biggest improvement was his ability to command his fastball in to right-handed hitters and his ability to elevate it with two strikes."
Jake Kuntzendorf, Aurora Christian
Aurora Christian's ace won a game on the final day of the state tournament for the second straight season. The junior committed to Purdue struck out 8 Rock Island Alleman batters in 6 innings of a 3-2 victory in the Class 2A third-place game. Kuntzendorf pitched the Eagles to the Class 1A state title last year with a 4-hit shutout. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound right-hander appeared in 13 games (12 starts). He went 8-2 with 107 strikeouts and 15 walks in 57⅔ innings. He posted a 1.82 ERA and .780 WHIP. The cleanup man batted .358 (29-for-81) with 28 RBI and slugged .617, thanks to 7 doubles, 4 triples and 2 home runs. "He has really grown in his leadership abilities and desire to be a leader on this team," Eagles coach Andy Zorger said.
Johnny Lambert, St. Charles North
This sidearming left-hander with deceptive stuff has been a mainstay out of the bullpen for the Joliet-bound North Stars. The 5-foot-11, 155-pound junior is 6-0 with 2 saves in 21 appearances, all in relief. He enters the finals with 62 strikeouts, 19 walks, a .963 WHIP and 1.72 ERA in 44⅔ innings. Lambert has won 3 of the 5 playoff games in which he has appeared. He has held the opposition to 1 unearned run in 16⅓ postseason innings. "He's a kid who has worked very hard," St. Charles North coach Todd Genke said. "His prowess as a reliever has just been remarkable. Him being able to keep his pitch count down has been a key."
Kyle Maurer, Huntley
If it was a big game, this 6-foot, 165-pound senior was likely pitching. The right-hander started the regional championship game victory for the Fox Valley Conference co-champs and held Belvidere North to an earned run on 5 hits in 4⅔ innings. He finished the season 5-0 with a save and a 1.19 ERA. He struck out 67 and walked 30 in 10 starts and two relief appearances. "He did a real nice job if asked to start or come out of the bullpen like at the beginning of the year," Huntley coach Andy Jakubowski said. "No matter the role, he excelled at it all year and eventually turned into our No. 1 starter." Maurer was also a dangerous hitter. He led the Red Raiders with 5 home runs, hit 5 doubles, a triple and drove in 24 runs. Maurer will continue his career at McHenry County College.
Cole Nelson, Batavia
Batavia's top hitter finished with a team-best .398 average (41-for-103). The two-year starter slugged .660 and led the Bulldogs in doubles (11), triples (5) and home runs (2) and RBI (27). Nelson walked 13 times and was hit by 6 pitches in 123 plate appearances, which contributed to a .492 on-base percentage. He scored 24 runs and posted a 1.152 OPS. "Cole was the offensive leader of our team this year," Batavia coach Alex Beckmann said. "When he was clicking we scored a lot of runs. He led us in just about every offensive category and was a great leader in the dugout for us. It will be tough to replace a two-year starter like Cole in our lineup."
Brad Niedzwiedz, Batavia
Named DuKane Conference Pitcher of the Year, this 6-foot, 165-pound left-hander went 7-0 with a 1.51 ERA in 55⅔ innings. The senior finished the season with 69 strikeouts and 11 walks and induced almost as many groundouts (42) as flyouts (47). Niedzwiedz snapped eventual league champion St. Charles North's 11-game winning streak on May 8 by holding the eventual state qualifier to 2 unearned runs on 6 hits over 6⅔ innings. "Brad was the leader of our team this year," Batavia coach Alex Beckmann said. "He was the kind of guy in the program that you love to have as a coach. He bought into his leadership role on the field, weight room and classroom."
Nik Panico, Kaneland
Kaneland's primary catcher was a dynamic force on either end of the battery. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound senior committed to Elgin Community College batted .377 (40-for-106) with a team-high 14 doubles to go with 3 home runs and 28 RBI. He was beaned 16 times, drew 10 walks and reached base in half his 132 plate appearances. The right-handed pitcher went 3-2 in 10 appearances (8 starts) and was 2-for-2 in save opportunities. He struck out 59 and walked 30 in 40 innings. "Nik's unwavering leadership this season was important for his success and our success as a team," Kaneland coach Brian Aversa said. "He made those around him better and this team made him better with how close they became."
Quinn Priester, Cary-Grove
Named captain of the Daily Herald All-Area Team in the Fox Valley, Priester was selected No. 18 overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first-year player draft Monday. The 6-foot-4, 202-pound Cary-Grove graduate with an offer from Texas Christian finished 8-2 in 12 starts with a 1.16 ERA and .779 WHIP in 60⅓ innings. The right-hander struck out 91 with a fastball clocked at 97 mph, a low-90s two-seamer and a sharp curveball. He walked 14 and hit six batsmen. The multisport athlete earned 2 playoff victories, including a 3-hit shutout of Crystal Lake Central. Priester batted .316 (31-for-98) in the three-hole with 6 doubles and 2 triples. He smacked his second home run of the season in what proved to be his final high school at-bat. "What a great career. What a great person. What a great kid," Cary-Grove coach Ryan Passaglia said.
Alex Rakas, Aurora Central Catholic
This middle infielder slugged the Chargers to 23 wins. The 6-foot, 185-pound senior posted an eye-popping slash line of .490/.574/.865 and 1.439 OPS. The left-handed batter amassed 51 hits in 104 at-bats and led the team in triples (7), home runs (5), RBI (41) and runs (50). He hit 10 doubles, drew 17 bases on balls and struck out just five times in 130 plate appearances. Rakas stole 20 bases in 21 attempts. He managed a hit in 29 of 34 games and enjoyed 17 multihit games. He collected a season-high 4 his in 4 at-bats in a loss to Wheaton Academy on April 8. "He was just tremendous," ACC coach Sean Bieterman said. "Offensively, he did a little bit of everything. He hit for average, hit for power, stole bases. Wow, just a remarkable year. He carried our team."
Christian Rodriguez, Elgin Academy
This speed merchant helped the Hilltoppers win an outright Independent School League title and a Class 1A regional with an area-best 37 steals. He was caught once. The 5-foot-9, 150-pound junior batted .474. (45-for-95) with 7 doubles, 6 triples and 20 RBI. He finished with more walks (13) than strikeouts (12) in 115 plate appearances. Rodriguez slugged .674 and recorded a 1.230 OPS. His leadership was the intangible Elgin Academy needed. "His leadership qualities are second to none," coach Steve Shapiro said. "Christian was our captain, our leader and our leadoff guy. He hit everyone hard. He was our most consistent player."
Braden Seyller, Burlington Central
Central's all-Kishwaukee River Conference third baseman led the team with a .450 batting average (49-for-109). The 6-foot-1, 160-pound senior helped the Rockets win their first conference title since 2015 by hitting 11 doubles, a home run and driving in 16. He reached base in exactly half his 124 plate appearances and finished with a 1.078 OPS. The left-handed batter enjoyed 4-hit games against Marengo, Woodstock and Class 4A state qualifier Hampshire. "Braden showed a great ability to compete against any level of competition," Central coach Kyle Nelson said. "He was a tough out and really made strides competing with two strikes."
Sam Tickel, Aurora Christian
This left-handed-hitting outfielder was the leading batter for two straight state-trophy teams. This season he hit .450 (45-for-100) and slugged .690, thanks to 9 doubles, 6 triples and a home run. The 5-foot-11, 165-pound senior drove in 43 runs for a team that finished third in Class 2A. He drew 13 walks, reached base in 49.2 percent of his at-bats, stole 8 bases and scored 34 runs. He batted .536 when the Eagles won the Class 1A state title last year. In his last two varsity seasons Tickel batted a combined .491 (104-for-212) with 21 doubles, 14 triples, 3 home runs and drove in 95. "Sam is probably the best pure hitter I've been around in my coaching career," Aurora Christian coach Andy Zorger said. "He has been a great leader by example on this team, particularly with his work ethic and countless hours working on his swing."
Drew Tilche, St. Edward
This 5-foot-10, 168-pound junior helped St. Edward win 16 games for the first time since 2013. The right-handed pitcher went 4-3 in 10 starts, struck out 61, walked 26 and posted a 1.55 ERA in 49⅔ innings. "He was able to pitch at a high level every time out and always seemed to have good stuff," St. Edward first-year coach Mike Rolando said. "His velocity and command were coupled with a nice curveball. He's going to be one of the best in the area next year." A left-handed hitter, Tilche batted .276 (24-for-87) with 5 doubles and a home run and drove in 18.
Mike Vaca, Bartlett
This senior helped the Hawks to a 19-11-1 record with his arm, bat and center-field defense. His .337 batting average (32-for-95) ranked second on the team. His 11 doubles, 2 triples and 2 home runs translated to a .558 slugging percentage. Vaca drew 21 walks in 118 plate appearances and scored a team-high 32 runs. The right-handed closer was tough to hit. He went 3-0 with 2 saves in 2 opportunities by holding opponents to 2 earned runs in 11 innings (0.64 ERA). He struck out 26, walked 5 and allowed only 3 hits (0.636 WHIP). "Mike is a hard worker and talented player," Bartlett coach Devin Rosen said. "He was one of our main leaders. He was normally very quiet and just went about his business. He is a very competitive athlete." Vaca will play college baseball at Triton.
Brock Wilken, Harvest Christian Academy
A repeat all-area selection, this 6-foot-4, 195-pound senior swung one of the meanest sticks in Class 1A. The left-handed hitter helped the Lions place fourth in the state by batting .515 (34-for-66) with 11 doubles, 5 triples and 2 home runs. He drove in 32. Wilken reached base in 65.3% of 98 plate appearances. He drew 20 walks, was beaned by 10 pitches and struck out only three times. He stole 18 bases in 21 attempts and scored 43 runs. "He's obviously a stud at the plate," first-year Harvest Christian coach Matt Ellett said. "If he saw a good pitch, he pounded it. He was a great leader and will has a bright future in college. He is a special talent." Wilken went 4-3 on the mound and struck out 39 in 27⅓ innings over 15 appearances. He will continue his career at Triton College.
Eddie Wilson, West Aurora
Named Upstate Eight Conference Pitcher of the Year, this 6-foot, 215-pound senior frustrated hitters all season long while pounding the strike zone. He finished 4-3 in 11 appearances (9 starts), struck out 67 and walked 10 in 55⅓ innings. He posted a 1.64 ERA and 1.102 WHIP. Wilson's season highlight took place on May 4, when he threw a 7-inning no-hitter with 6 strikeouts and 1 walk against Glenbard East, which finished third in the UEC. "He went toe to toe with top pitchers in the area all year," West Aurora coach John Reeves said. "Eddie was consistent all season long and was the leader of our pitching staff."
Aurora Christian -- Trey Madsen (sr.), MJ Stavola (sr.)
Bartlett -- Geno Frieri (sr.)
Batavia -- Dylan Schick (sr.)
Burlington Central -- Cody Carlson (jr.), Colton Wallace (sr.),
Cary-Grove -- Jack Wenninger (jr.)
Crystal Lake South -- Patrick Fischer (sr.), Kyle Hetherington (sr.)
Dundee-Crown -- Nick Gregory (jr.)
Elgin -- Kyle Coates (sr.)
Elgin Academy -- CJ Carani (jr.), Ethan Hill (jr.)
Geneva -- Blake Breon (sr.), Ben Croci (sr.)
Hampshire -- Gavin Kriegel (jr.), Nick Sladek (sr.)
Harvest Christian Academy -- Jack Nohava (sr.), Grant Young (sr.)
Huntley -- Davis Pasco (sr.), Michael Talesky (sr.)
Jacobs -- Kyle Washington (so.)
Kaneland -- Angel Acevedo (sr.), Tommy Shaw (jr.)
Marmion Academy -- Eric Lundell (sr.), Nick Talarico (sr.)
St. Charles East -- Cole Conn (jr.)
St. Charles North -- Michael Gattuso (sr.), Ryan Thiesse (jr.)
St. Edward -- Jack Olson (sr.)
South Elgin -- Joe Teschke (sr.)
Streamwood -- Anthony Caruso (sr.), Tyler Jones (jr.)
West Aurora -- Anthony Malczyk (sr.), Logan Mont (jr.)
All-area selections and capsules by Jerry Fitzpatrick