Baseball: 2012 season preview capsules
By Erik Jacobsen firstname.lastname@example.org March 24, 2012 5:52PM
Streamwood's Richie Gorski is one of the top returning players in the area this season. | Andrew A. Nelles ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 30, 2012 11:07AM
Coach: Chris Pemberton (3rd season)
2011 record: 13-22
Top returnees: Seniors Dan Gallanis (P), Robert Sadowski (P/INF), Ryan Roszkowiak (C), Robert Smith (CF), Ben Grear (SS/2B), Matt Wick (1B), Giacomo Visconti (3B). Junior Colin Nowak (P/RF)
Top newcomers: Juniors Ryan Karrick (INF/P), Matt Roberson (C/OF/INF), Nick Mazzei (P/1B), Justin Blanchett (P), Kyle Garcia (P/OF)
Outlook: The Hawks weren’t far off last year, but an inability to finish close games paved the way to the program’s second straight losing season. An experienced group hopes to turn the tide this spring. Gallanis has committed to Quincy University and Sadowski has committed to Elgin Community College, and both players will play key roles in Bartlett’s pitching rotation. The Hawks also expect big things from Nowak, who made an impact as a sophomore last year and will be counted on in the field, on the mound and at the plate this season.
“When you look at the stats from last year, the numbers weren’t glowing,” Pemberton said. “We’ve got a lot of depth, which is a good thing, but it’s a matter of who is going to be the guy who steps up day in and day out.”
Coach: Kyle Nelson (7th season)
2011 record: 23-8
Top returnees: Seniors Tanner Scott (C), Ray Hunnicutt (OF), Zach Ranney (P/SS), Riley Jensen (2B). Junior Blake Alexander (INF)
Top newcomers: Juniors Alex Bell (P), Michael Scott (3B/1B), Ryan Schuring (OF/P). Sophomore Reed Hunnicutt (OF)
Outlook: The Rockets notched their third straight 20-win season last year, but they were left wanting more after they finished second in the Big Northern East standings behind Richmond-Burton and failed to win a postseason game. Scott and Hunnicutt both landed IHSBCA Class 3A All-State honors last year and hope to spearhead a return to championship form. Scott is a three-time Courier-News All-Area team member who led the area with a .510 batting average last season.
“Our guys know that we’ve never won a sectional, and that’s certainly something that they strive for,” Nelson said. “Richmond is going to be a really good team and it should be a good dogfight for the conference title. Hopefully that prepares us well for the postseason and we can make a little run.”
Coach: Tom Parisi (1st season)
2011 record: 24-14
Top returnees: Seniors Jake Romano (CF), Erik Brewer (P/1B), Mike Hazelhurst (P/1B), Chris Gorman (P), Tyler Gross (P), Kyle Bernhard (SS). Junior Dylan Kissack (C)
Top newcomers: Juniors Ryan Suwanski (P/LF), Trent Muscat (2B), Garrett Ryan (OF)
Outlook: Expectations are high for the Chargers following last year’s regional championship season. Romano is back for his fourth varsity campaign after posting a team-best .394 batting average last spring. The Miami of Ohio recruit is also a defensive standout, ranking as one of the top center fielders in the state. Hazelhurst went 7-1 with a 2.02 ERA on the mound last year. He headlines an experienced rotation that should help Dundee-Crown navigate the rugged Fox Valley Valley under Parisi, who takes the reins after Jon Sawyer stepped aside following last season.
“I think we should be able to hold our own (in the FVC Valley),” Parisi said. “I expect big things. I expect to at least make a regional championship appearance and hopefully beyond.”
Coach: Dave Foerster (6th season)
2011 record: 5-28-1
Top returnees: Seniors Alex Doty (P), Drew Bloomquist (P), Eric Daly (P), Andrew Higdon (SS), Gage Teschner (C), Chris Edwards (OF/2B), Derek Strohmaier (2B/OF), Jake Bartelt (3B/2B)
Top newcomers: Juniors Eric Sedlack (P/OF), Nick Turner (1B/P). Sophomores Ryan Sitter (P, INF), Kiko Mari (P/OF)
Outlook: The Maroons hope a versatile lineup, an experienced pitching rotation and improved defense will be enough to finally spark an increase in victories after failing to win more than five games the past four seasons. Doty signed with Western Illinois last fall, and hard work during the offseason could lead to a big year for Elgin’s ace, according to Foerster. Like Doty, Teschner and Higdon are three-year varsity players who bring leadership to a Maroons lineup that might struggle early with offensive consistency.
“We have a lot of returning guys who have logged a lot of innings for us,” Foerster said. “They’ve really stepped up this year in the leadership category as far as getting everyone on the same page.”
Coach: Josh Latimer (2nd season)
2011 record: 14-13
Top returnees: Seniors Matt Rassmussen (P), David Garza (CF), Will Waugh (INF), Mike Murphy (P/OF). Juniors Mason Lucca (SS), Ben Rabe (3B). Sophomore Jake Langford (2B)
Top newcomers: Bobby Tredwell (1B/P), Adam Price (OF/P)
Outlook: The Cogs hope to take another step forward after finishing with a winning record for the first time in 11 years last season. Genoa-Kingston moves into the Big Northern East where it hopes to contend with favorites Richmond-Burton and Burlington Central for the division title. That is only one goal on the list for a group of players who have bought into Latimer’s enthusiasm and are thinking big.
“We don’t have to talk too much about attitude and expectations,” Latimer said. “The big thing this year is the kids want it. We’re very athletic, so just we need to fine tune a couple baseball aspects all around.”
Coach: John Sarna (1st season)
2011 record: 15-15
Top returnees: Seniors Luke Wians (CF/P), Jake Kuhn (RF/P), Sean O’Shea (SS/2B). Juniors Tyler Crater (C/P), Shane Hernandez (1B/P)
Top newcomers: Juniors Brandon Wescher (3B), Justin Thinger (LF)
Outlook: A new era begins for the Whip-Purs as they enter their first season in the Fox Valley Fox with a new coach at the helm. A longtime assistant coach at Jacobs, Sarna replaces Steve Ream, who stepped down after 13 seasons as Hampshire’s head coach last spring. A solid pitching rotation led by Wians, Crater and Hernandez should help the Whips hold their own in their highly competitive new league. Wians and Crater are both three-year varsity members, and Crater landed Courier-News All-Area honors last season as a sophomore.
“These guys are confident and they’re looking forward to the challenge,” Sarna said. “They’re not going to back down from anyone.”
Coach: Andy Jakubowski (7th season)
2011 record: 22-11
Top returnees: Seniors Justin Gundlach (P), Nick Corpolongo (OF), Bryan Doherty (P/OF), Brody Burkhart (2B), Craig Klein (P), Jake Perkins (P/OF), Jordan Chuipek (INF/P), Dan Lowry (P/3B), Brandon King (INF), Mark Merevick (OF). Juniors Colin Lyman (P/OF), Bryce Only (SS/3B/P), Tyler Mindak (C), Kameron Sallee (1B), Tyler Albright (2B)
Top newcomers: Senior Christian Heustis (C), Jon Vazquez (P/3B). Juniors Josh Perkins (P/3B), T.J. Adams (P/INF), Jake Wagner (P/OF), Tom Regan (P/1B/OF), Jack Lackovick (P/OF), Colin Green (P/OF). Sophomores Mark Skonieczny (C/OF), Matt Sullivan (SS), Eric Luecht (P/SS)
Outlook: The Red Raiders are loaded with talent as eight starters and four All-Fox Valley Valley selections return to the fold this season. The big group of returning players is led by a pair of juniors in Lyman and Only, both of whom are three-varsity standouts. Lyman posted a .448 batting average last year and has already verbally committed to Louisville. Gundlach, Doherty, Jake Perkins and Klein combined for 15 of Huntley’s 22 pitching wins last season. All signs point to the Raiders contending in the ultra-competitive FVC Valley as they seek their fifth straight 20-win season.
“I think offensively we’ll be very strong and defensively we’ll be very strong,” Jakubowski said. “We expect our pitchers to come in and throw strikes and give us a chance to win day in and day out.”
Coach: Jamie Murray (1st season)
2011 record: 14-19
Top returnees: Seniors Mark Self (1B), Zac Camacho (1B), Greg Mixon (P), Ryan Ulmer (OF). Juniors Kenny Finn (SS), Connor Conzelman (3B/P), Max Rider (P)
Top newcomers: Juniors Nick Ledinsky (P), Greg Sidor (C), Aaron Meciej (C), Aaron Traub (2B/P), Evan Blunk (OF/P)
Outlook: The Golden Eagles hope to keep plugging away in the ultra-competitive Fox Valley Conference. Murray takes over as the team’s third head coach in as many years after serving as an assistant the past four seasons. Self is back after belting six home runs and earning All-FVC Valley honors as a junior. Mixon, Camacho, Ledinsky and Rider will top the pitching rotation for Jacobs. The Eagles will be without standout pitcher Henry Gigeous, who graduated early and is now a freshman at Oregon.
“You have to set the bar high,” Murray said. “We’ve never won a regional, but we need to talk about contending for regional, sectional and supersectional titles if we want that outcome. We have our work cut out for us, but we’re confident.”
Coach: Matt Esterino (4th season)
2011 record: 11-22
Top returnees: Seniors Kyle Newquist (P/OF), Drew Shore (SS/2B/P), Austin Royse (P/OF), Pete Lennard (2B/SS). Junior Niko Morado (C)
Top newcomers: Juniors Chris Guzeman (3B/2B/SS/P), Dylan Ganow (1B/3B/P). Sophomore Brayden Royse (1B/OF/P)
Outlook: Injuries and suspensions will leave the Royals a bit short-handed early in the season, but once they reach full strength Esterino thinks his squad will be stout defensively, particularly on the infield. Shore and Morado are both three-year varsity contributors who will play key roles. Newquist showed flashes of brilliance on the mound and at the plate last season, and he’ll add a little power to a batting order that will largely rely on small ball as Larkin looks to avoid its third straight losing season.
“We always have high expectations and these kids are hungry,” Esterino said. “The conference is always going to be competitive, but I think our guys like that. It’s a challenge every night and it gets you ready for the playoffs.”
ST. CHARLES EAST
Coach: Len Asquini (1st season, second tenure)
2011 record: 27-11
Top returnees: Seniors Jordan Hayes (2B), Kyle Manske (P/OF), John Hondlik (P/1B). Juniors Joe Hoscheit (C/OF/P), Brian Sobieski (C/1B)
Top newcomers: Senior Luke Ludke (P/3B). Juniors Nick Erickson (SS), Jack Dellostritto (SS), Troy Dyhkuis (P), Nick Huskisson (P), Derek Olson (P)
Outlook: The Saints lost some top-tier talent from the team that won back-to-back regional titles and finished as Upstate Eight River co-champions last spring. But as usual, the cupboard isn’t bare at St. Charles East all-around standout Hoscheit leads a group of solid returning players. Asquini returns to a familiar post as he takes over as head coach following Dave Haskins’ departure last summer. Asquini had a highly-successful run as St. Charles East’s coach from 1996-2003, compiling a 224-87-1 record and guiding the Saints to the state championship in 1999.
“I think this group can meet the bar we’ve set for them,” Asquini said. “They’ve been very coachable and they’re a very athletic group. I hope that turns into some W’s and a deep run in the playoffs.”
ST. CHARLES NORTH
Coach: Todd Genke (8th season)
2011 record: 24-11
Top returnees: Seniors John Brodner (3B), Jake Johansmeier (P/2B), Nick Gilmore (C), Jake Smiley (SS), Brandon Drawant (OF), Carl Formento (P/INF), Andrew Kronke (P), Max Pedre (P)
Top newcomers: Juniors Kurt Barbeau (OF), Ankur Shah (P), Adam Delisi (1B), Kevin Delisi (OF), Ryan Thomas (C)
Outlook: Expectations are high as usual for the North Stars, who have enjoyed seven consecutive 20-win seasons. Brodner, who signed with Wright State, is back to lead the offense after posting a .434 batting average and nine home runs last year. Johansmeier is another Division I recruit who signed with Eastern Illinois, and he’ll again be a key contributor on the mound, in the field and at the plate.
“I feel pretty strong up the middle defensively and we have a lot of team speed, which is something we’ve put a lot of emphasis on with the new bats,” Genke said. “The area I’m a little concerned about is pitching. I think we have the talent, but we just don’t have a lot of experience.”
Coach: Tim Dovichi (1st season)
2011 record: 6-25
Top returnees: Seniors Luke Duffy (P/CF), Tyler Morawski (1B/P), Austin Davis (P). Juniors Jacob Koehring (RF/P), Antonio Domel (SS). Sophomores Tighe Koehring (C), Ryan Nudd (3B)
Top newcomers: Sophomores Michael Pastoro (2B), Tyler Tamaka (OF/C)
Outlook: The Green Wave might be short on seniors, but that doesn’t mean it is short on experience. St. Edward’s young squad looks to take a step forward this year under Dovichi, who takes over as head coach. He served as a varsity assistant the past three years under Gene Belmonte, who retired after last season. Duffy led the team with a .386 batting average last year, and he joins Davis as the headliners of a pitching rotation that is a source of optimism entering the 2012 campaign.
“We have our top three pitchers coming back, which is unheard of,” Dovichi said. “That’s going to be our biggest strength along with the experience we gained last year. We’re returning five or six starters from last season, so that experience is going to be huge.”
Coach: Jim Kating (6th season)
2011 record: 24-10
Top returnees: Seniors Andrew Perry (P), Andrew Weedman (1B/OF), Ryan Ford (OF, P), Eric Stazy (INF/P). Juniors David Palmer (P), Chris Bingham (P)
Outlook: The Storm graduated most of the offensive firepower from last year’s team that set a school record for victories, but its pitching staff remained mostly intact. Palmer and Perry top the rotation, but Kating isn’t too sure what to expect from a big group of juniors whose ability to develop as varsity players will go a long way towards determining whether South Elgin can make it three 20-win seasons in a row.
“I think the quantity of pitching arms is this most I’ve ever kept, but obviously we’re hoping for quality,” Kating said. “For us to be successful our pitchers have to throw strikes. We’ll also have to come up with timely hitting and be able to play small ball and do things that way.”
Coach: Steve Diversey (5th season)
2011 record: 30-7
Top returnees: Seniors Richie Gorski (SS/P), Dalton Lundeen (P/1B), Brandon Larkin-Guilfoyle (3B), Alex Morrow (CF), Edgar Saldivar (C), Brent Kiesel (2B). Junior Zach Harris (P)
Top newcomers: Juniors Michael Smith (2B), Matt Harding (P), Robert Sojda (OF), Jeff Weaver (OF), Mike Murawski (1B/P)
Outlook: The Sabres broke through for their first-ever conference, regional and sectional titles last year, and a number of integral players from that squad remain in the fold. At the top of the list of returners is Gorski, who has committed to play college baseball at Illinois and will do a little bit of everything as a standout infielder, pitcher and hitter. Like Gorski, Lundeen is a returning Courier-News All-Area team member, and the lefty will serve as the ace of Streamwood’s pitching staff. Morrow and Larkin-Guilfoyle are two other returning starters for the Sabres, who seek their second straight Upstate Eight River title.
“The monkey is off our back and the kids can kind of relax,” said Diversey, the reigning Courier-News Coach of the Year. “History has been made and now they can just play.”
Coach: Jeff Moeller (11th season)
2011 record: 25-8
Top returnees: Seniors Ryan Perez (P/3B/1B), Tyler Greene (C/2B/SS), Dylan Scully (OF), Ray Adame (OF), Zach Edwards (P/OF), Colton Jeralds (OF). Junior Will Woodhouse (OF)
Top newcomers: Juniors John Wawro (P/C/OF), Tim Rodgers (C/OF). Sophomore Clay DeHaan (P/INF). Freshmen Luke Weston (OF), Chase Woods (OF)
Outlook: The Warriors have a mix of old and new in the fold as they seek their sixth straight 25-win season. Perez is back for his fourth varsity campaign after claiming 2011 Courier-News Player of the Year honors. The ambidextrous standout was 9-1 with a 1.38 ERA last season, but he’ll only throw with his left hand this year after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in November. Kevin Elder, Perez’s All-State pitching counterpart the past three years, is gone after transferring in late December. The Warriors hope a crop of young players, including two freshmen, can help fill the void on its 12-player varsity roster.
“We’re young, so it’s going to take a while to see exactly where we’re really at,” Moeller said. “We’re going to have to work hard and get them developed and ready to play come May.”