Fox baseball notes: Harvest Christian dedicating season to Stotz
Bigger than baseball.
Harvest Christian's baseball team is playing with purpose this spring.
There is only one name on the back of Harvest Christian players -- Stotz.
"We dedicated our season to John Stotz, a 9-year-old HCA student, who died in January," said Lions coach Matt Ellett. "John was very close to our players, having spent much of last season with us as our ball boy after being diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor.
"Obviously, our faith is a critical part of who we are here at Harvest Christian, but most of our players haven't experienced death in their young lives."
Stotz certainly had a profound impact on everyone -- both at the Elgin school and in the community.
"The strength and faithfulness that John and his family displayed even in the darkest of hours was just incredible for my team to witness," said Ellett, who is also the HCA athletic director.
Rather than playing with their individual names on the backs of their jerseys, Harvest Christian players decided to replace the names with one honoring their former classmate -- Stotz.
And it didn't stop there.
"We had so many individual requests from our school community for their own Stotz HCA baseball jersey, that we decided to sell them with all proceeds going to the 'John Stotz Legacy Fund,'" said Ellett.
To date, Harvest Christian has sold more than 130 jerseys, raising nearly $4,000 for the fund.
In fact, every HCA sports team now has Stotz on their jerseys or apparel.
"The outpouring from the community has just been incredible," Ellett said. "It's a true testament to the faithfulness of the Stotz family and the impact their son had on all of us. "Bigger than baseball."
On the field, the Lions are off to a sizzling 10-1 start, having returned from their Arizona trip with a pair of 13-3 Northeastern Athletic Conference victories over Schaumburg Christian last Saturday, as well as a 10-0, 5-inning rout of Bremen on April 6.
In Arizona, the Lions played 5 games in 4 days, finishing with a 4-1 mark -- the lone loss coming to a Pendleton High School club that is the 3rd-ranked Class 4A in Oregon.
"They threw their UC-Santa Clara commit against us and we lost 3-2," said Ellett. "We had guys on second and third with nobody out late in the game but couldn't get them in.
"Jared Rodriguez threw a fantastic game, striking out 12 in 5 innings."
In two of the Arizona wins, HCA trailed by 6 runs before rallying.
"That's a very good sign," said the coach.
Through its first 8 games, Harvest Christian statistical leaders include senior third baseman/pitcher Sam Rohlfing (.542, 17 RBI, 8⅓ IP, 0.00 ERA, 15 Ks), senior designated hitter Jacob Janisko (.458), senior outfielder Steven Combs (.450), junior outfielder/pitcher Kaden Meeker (.440), junior shortstop Gavin Duran (.433, 19 R, 14 RBI, 2 HR, 10 SB), sophomore catcher Ben Mitchell (.533, .933 slugging percentage), and senior Rodriguez (10 IP against Kaneland and Pendleton, Ore., 15 Ks, 1.40 ERA).