Willowbrook getting hot in time for playoffs

  • Willowbrook's Max Vaisvila delivers a pitch against Downers Grove South during a game in Downers Grove on Tuesday, April 5, 2022.

    Willowbrook's Max Vaisvila delivers a pitch against Downers Grove South during a game in Downers Grove on Tuesday, April 5, 2022.

 
By Scott Schmid
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 5/12/2022 10:29 AM

Max Vaisvila and his Willowbrook teammates have their eyes set on a deep playoff run. If the left-hander keeps throwing like he has been, those dreams could become a reality.

Compiling a perfect 8-0 record with 80 strikeouts so far this spring, Vaisvila played an instrumental part in the Warriors rattling off a 15-game winning streak that came to an end with a 4-2 loss to Hinsdale South on Tuesday. But the senior is far from the only standout on the pitching staff; fellow senior Jacob Skinner is 4-2 with a 2.25 ERA and sophomore Dayne Meyer is 4-0 with an ERA of 0.296.

 

"We have three really good starters," Willowbrook coach Vic Wisner said, "and they get us deep into a game. We always feel good going into a game."

The defense behind the three lefties has also been outstanding, led by junior shortstop Alex Chaltin and junior third baseman Isaac Sobieszczyk. The Warriors had made just 24 errors through their first 22 games.

"We do the little things," Wisner said. "We are fielding at a 96 percent clip. And our at-bats have been getting better and better."

Offensively, Jacob Kutella is hitting .517 and Bennett Fleming is batting .443. Vaisvila, who struck out 13 in a win over the Hornets on Monday, tops the team in home runs with 3. Willowbrook, which received the No. 2 seed at the Class 4A South Elgin sectional, was tied atop the West Suburban Gold standings with Hinsdale South with four games to play.

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Downers Grove North:

With a trio of major Division-I recruits anchoring the middle of the lineup, Downers Grove North knew it had the bats to contend in the West Suburban Silver this spring. But it was the Trojans' gloves that were holding them back in the early going.

Now behind a much-improved defense, Downers Grove North has surged to the top of the league standings after winning 10 of their last 13 games, including a 5-3 victory over defending champion Hinsdale Central last Saturday and a 12-2 decision over Glenbard West on Wednesday.

"We've shored up our defense a little bit the last two, three weeks," said coach Kyle Briscoe, whose team had an overall record of 13-9-1 after 23 games. "We've always had the bats to compete, but if you look at the first 10 games, we were probably averaging three or four errors a game. Now we've been keeping our errors down and that helps especially against good competition like Hinsdale Central and Oak Park. The kids have been playing well."

South Carolina-commit George Wolkow is hitting .500 in conference play to lead the offense. Michael Gorman has posted three league wins on the mound, while Sean Ryniec had notched a trio of saves. The Trojans, who played the last couple of weeks without Ean Czech (Texas) due to a hamstring injury, is seeking their first Silver title since 2001.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The team plays Hinsdale Central on Saturday followed by matchups with Glenbard West on Monday and Tuesday. Downers Grove North was 10-4 in league play after Wednesday with the Red Devils in second at 8-5.

"I told the guys, just take it one game at a time," Briscoe said. "We are hoping to continue to play well. I don't want the guys thinking too much about all that stuff (a conference title). If we play well, things will take care of themselves."

DuPage Valley Conference:

Heading into this final week of the regular season, the DuPage Valley Conference race couldn't have been any closer with three teams -- Naperville Central, Naperville North and Neuqua Valley -- all tied atop the standings and Waubonsie Valley just one game back.

The defending champion Redhawks are playing their best ball of the spring, having won eight straight and were 9-4 in the league and 18-4 overall after a pair of wins over Metea Valley on Monday and Tuesday.

Neuqua Valley took 2 of 3 from Naperville Central as part of a current stretch where it has posted 11 wins in its last 12 games, which included a come-from-behind 10-9 win over Waubonsie Valley on Wednesday. The Wildcats (14-7-1) improved to 10-4 in conference play.

"Pitching was a question mark coming into the season because of the lack of experience returning," Neuqua Valley coach James Thornton said, "but several new faces have really stepped up to go along with a couple of old faces that continue to mature. And our hitting has come along steadily.

"This has been an amazing (conference) season from start to finish. You can't take any school for granted so every pitch, every at-bat, every inning matters. The fact that there was a three-way tie for first and another school a game out makes this final week that much more meaningful."

Alex Camaj tops the squad with a .404 batting average to go along with 15 runs and 13 RBI. Palmer Domschke is batting .381 with 17 runs scored, Colin Lewandowski is hitting .367 with 3 homers and 15 RBI, and Josh Wenz is at .351 with a team-high 22 runs batted in.

Naperville North (12-8), which fell one game off the pace after a loss to Waubonsie Valley on Tuesday, had rebounded from a four-game losing streak to post a pair of wins over Metea Valley last week. Tanner Mally is scorching the ball, hitting .468 with seven doubles and 22 runs scored. Zach Bava has a .367 average to go along with six doubles and Patrick Graham is batting .357 with 24 RBI.

Harrison Cordeiro has won four games on the mound, striking out 44 in 32 innings, and Kyle Fuglsang is 3-1 with a 2.10 ERA and 35 strikeouts.

"We figured the DVC would be pretty competitive at the start of the season," Naperville North coach James Chiappetta said, "and I think this final week is showing that to be the case. Our team has played pretty well throughout the course of the season. We've had some ups and downs, but our seniors have done an outstanding job helping our younger players along."

Westmont:

James Postawa etched his name into the history books at Westmont after striking out a school-record 18 batters in a 10-0 victory over Chicago Disney II on May 4. The senior allowed just one hit in his seven innings of work while also going 3-for-5 at the plate with 3 RBI.

The previous record of 17 was set by Jackson Fischer in 2016.

"James was pitching so well it seemed like they were not close at all that day against him," Westmont coach D.J. Cocks said. "It was one of the best pitching outings in the history of Westmont for sure."

That was just one of many highlights this spring for the Sentinels, who have put together a bounce-back campaign after a young group went through some growing pains last season. After posting eight victories a year ago, Westmont ran its win total to 16 with a pair of wins on Wednesday.

Lucas Hicks is batting .484 with 10 doubles, 3 home runs, 32 RBI and 46 runs scored. Jason Czaplewski is hitting .427 with 38 RBIs. Caleb Kleinz is at .345 with 27 RBI and 26 runs scored.

"As a team, we have come a long way," said Cocks, whose team started off 1-6 before turning things around. "We have had outstanding hitting as our offense has been really good. If we can combine it with consistent defense and pitching, we will cause teams a lot of problems."

Timothy Christian:

A season ago, Timothy Christian rattled off eight victories in the final 10 games of the regular season which preceded a run to the Class 2A championship game. This spring, the Trojans seem to be once again getting hot at just the right time.

With a pair of wins over Westmont on Monday and Tuesday, the squad upped their record to 9-1 over their last 10, with their lone loss to Aurora Christian on April 30. After beginning the season 1-4, Timothy Christian was now 15-7 with two regular season games remaining.

"Our guys play hard but also loose," Timothy coach Brian Whartnaby said. "They've gelled together well this year; the guys know their role and do their best to fill it. We've got solid senior leadership and a group of sophomores and juniors who were big contributors to our success last season and this season."

One of those sophomores, Casey Folkerts, tops the team with a .463 batting average to go along with seven doubles. Senior Fletcher Roemmich is hitting .355 with 22 RBI and junior Donald Tober is batting .345 with 23 RBI. On the mound, Tober is 3-1 with 52 strikeouts in 31 innings and senior Jacob Friend is 5-2.

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