WEST CHICAGO — A host of one-run losses left West Chicago with a disappointing record in 2012.
Now, with an influx of talented juniors, the Wildcats are looking for a reversal of their fortunes this spring.
“I’m optimistic,” said coach Dan McCarthy. “We’ve got a good mix of juniors and seniors and they get along very well together.”
Pitching ultimately will be the key for West Chicago. While the staff is expected to be deep, it is also very inexperienced. The Wildcats do return senior Mike Zajac, who will be the team’s ace. Bill Pearson, Dave Kordik and Jacob Seeman are also expected to receive innings.
Also back for the Wildcats are second baseman Ryan Koester (.319 average in 2012) and catcher A.J. Siedler. Sophomore Connor Dall takes over at shortstop after hitting .520 over the summer.
“The big thing is I think we will be much improved defensively,” the coach said. “Offensively, we will be fine. I think we will be able to put numbers on the board. The big unknown is pitching. That’s a key for us every year. The good high school programs are ones that have good, quality starters and ours are unproven.”
A major goal for the squad is an improved record in the DuPage Valley Conference, though that task won’t be easy.
“All seven series last year, at least one of the games we decided by one run,” McCarthy said. “If we win those seven games, instead of losing those seven, our record improves significantly.
“Now based on what I’ve seen so far, there are some really good teams at the top. Naperville Central will be strong, they have three kids who have already committed to play college baseball. Then you have Wheaton North, Wheaton Warrenville South, Glenbard North, Naperville North. All those teams are really strong and Glenbard East was strong last year too.
“It’s a dogfight every time you step on the field and you have to play well to win.”