Baseball: St. Edward’s young nucleus ready for postseason
By Erik Jacobsen email@example.com May 13, 2012 6:36PM
St. Edward sophomore Michael Castoro is part of a big group of underclassmen who have helped the Green Wave make major strides this season. | Andrew A. Nelles~For Sun-Times Media
CLASS 2A RICHMOND-BURTON REGIONAL
Game 1) No. 5 Harvard at No. 4 Wheaton Academy, 4:30
Game 2) No. 6 North Boone at No. 3 St. Edward, 4:30
Game 3) No. 1 Richmond-Burton vs. Winner Game 1, 4
Game 4) No. 2 Westminster Christian vs. Winner Game 2, 4
Title) Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4, 11
Updated: June 15, 2012 8:10AM
Expectations are steadily rising for St. Edward’s baseball team as it nears the end of a second consecutive season of going young.
The Green Wave enters this week’s Class 2A Richmond-Burton Regional brimming with confidence following a regular season that has seen its big group of underclassmen make major strides. Look no further than St. Edward’s overall record for proof of just how far the squad has come.
The third-seeded Wave carries a 17-16 mark into Monday’s regional quarterfinal game against No. 6 North Boone at Wing Park. With a victory St. Edward can triple its win total from the 2011 season when it finished 6-25.
Three sophomores and two freshmen have played key roles in the turnaround, and along the way the underclassmen have earned the respect of their older teammates.
“We’ve got a sophomore leading off, a freshman in the two hole and our middle infield is all underclassmen,” senior standout Luke Duffy said. “They’re good ball players and we have so much talent, so it’s good to see it finally come together.”
Making a serious impact
Juniors Jacob Koehring and Antonio Domel and sophomores Tighe Koehring and Ryan Nudd all took their share of lumps with the varsity team last year, but the experience appears to be paying off. The Koehring brothers in particular have seen major gains as they’ve developed into two of the area’s most productive players.
Jacob Koehring leads the Wave with a .417 batting average to go along with 25 RBI and 27 runs scored. The lefty has also raised his profile on the mound with a 6-3 record, a 1.50 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 56 innings.
Meanwhile, Tighe Koehring has had a big season at the plate as he leads St. Edward with 26 RBI and 15 doubles. The catcher also sports a .394 batting average.
Sophomore Michael Castoro and freshmen Jake Lafrenz and Jack Tierney are three varsity newcomers who have impressed. Castoro leads the team with 28 runs scored and Lafrenz has been stellar on the mound, compiling a 5-2 record and 0.91 ERA in 46-1/3 innings pitched.
First-year coach Tim Dovichi said one of the team’s goals was to hover around .500 this season, and St. Edward has been at or above the break-even mark since early April. The Wave’s resume includes notable wins against Streamwood and Walther Lutheran, and five of its past six losses have come by two runs or fewer.
“You look at every other school and they are playing juniors and seniors who are 6-feet and hitting the ball hard,” Dovichi said. “We have station-to-station guys, but they’ll grow.
“We’re a young team and you can’t beat this experience the guys are getting, especially in all the one-run games we’ve played. It’s only going to make them better when they are juniors and seniors.”
Westminster Christian looms
St. Edward’s focus is on the present for now, though, as it looks to make a run in what is shaping up as a highly competitive regional.
If the Green Wave gets past North Boone it will advance to play in the semifinals Thursday against rival and No. 2 seed Westminster Christian, which ended St. Edward’s season last year in the regional semifinals. The Wave rallied for a 4-3 victory against the Warriors last week at Trout Park in the only meeting between the teams this season.
Westminster Christian (18-11) recently wrapped up the outright Northeastern Athletic Conference title and is in search of its third consecutive regional championship. The Warriors are also two years removed from winning the Class 1A state championship.
Seniors Ryan Perez, Dylan Scully, Tyler Greene and Zach Edwards are among the Westminster Christian players with significant postseason experience, but the squad also has several newcomers in the mix. Sophomore Clay DeHaan and freshmen Chase Woods and Luke Weston are among those about to get their first taste of playoff pressure.
“We’re a young team, so we’ve got to hope for the best,” Westminster Christian coach Jeff Moeller said. “I think we’ve got the guys that can put something together, so who knows. It’s a very tough regional.”
Richmond-Burton owns the regional’s top seed and will play in Wednesday’s semifinal against the winner of Monday’s game between No. 4 Wheaton Academy and No. 5 Harvard. The host Rockets advanced to a sectional championship game last season while competing in Class 3A and earned a share of the Big Northern East title this spring. Wheaton Academy also moved down to 2A this year after competing in 3A last season.
“Our regional is probably one of the toughest in 2A,” Dovichi said. “Every team in that regional has a shot to win. We beat North Boone 5-4 last month, so we know it’s not going to be a walk-through regional. It’s going to be real interesting.”