GLEN ELLYN — With the loss of a solid senior class and some unfortunate luck, Glenbard West enters the 2013 baseball season with some definite question marks.
Just how quickly a large crop of juniors get up to speed could go a long way in determining whether the Hilltoppers can match last spring’s 20-win campaign.
“We are very young this year,” said Glenbard West coach Brian Wojtun. “We are a very junior-dominated team. But we’ve got some good veteran leadership and they will be able to help the younger kids develop.”
Glenbard West does return three core players in senior Mitch Monocchio, who is moving from third base to shortstop, junior pitcher/first baseman Grant Greeno and sophomore catcher Will Simoneit. A fourth, Hayden Carlson, who was the team’s starting shortstop a year ago, is out for the season with a torn labrum.
Greeno is the team’s No. 1 pitcher with Drew Vogg, Dennis Rudolph and Tyler Dayton also expected to see innings on the mound.
“The hope is that all will become good high school pitchers,” the coach said. “We’ve been working on throwing three pitches for strikes and all seem to be able to do that. We have to keep hitters off balance.
“Defensively, we have a lot of question marks. We will have a lot of young kids out there. There will be a learning curve for the kids and we have to be patient with them, help them build confidence and learn from their mistakes.”
Offensively, the Hilltoppers appear to have a balanced line-up.
“I think we have a good mix,” Wojtun said. “We are not the fastest team but we have a couple of kids who can steal bases. And I think we should make good contact.”
The young squad will get thrown right into the fire. Glenbard West opens up West Suburban Silver conference action against defending state champion Oak Park on Saturday. The league is again expected to be loaded top to bottom, including Lyons Township which lost to Oak Park in the state title game.
“You have Oak Park, LT, York, Hinsdale Central has three Division I pitchers on the team,” Wojtun said. “Last year we had two teams in the state championship. It’s a great conference and you have to be prepared every single week.”