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Baseball preview: Lisle's Van Volkenburg heads group of five returning starters

Lisle’s 2013 baseball team is something of anomaly — a team that saw 12 seniors graduate, but one that also returns five starters from a year ago.

LISLE — Lisle’s 2013 baseball team is something of anomaly — a team that saw 12 seniors graduate, but one that also returns five starters from a year ago.

It’s not so surprising to see that ratio pop up when coach Pete Meyer describes his philosophy on team building.

“The way I look at it is, when you bring guys up (to varsity) when they’re younger and they play a whole year as sophomores, then you have a kid who’s a junior but he’s already had a year of experience, so he’s more like a senior,” Meyer said.

Foremost among the group of players who have plenty of experience is Ryan Van Volkenburg, entering his fourth year of varsity ball with three Interstate Eight all-conference selections under his belt. Kevin Coppin (catcher), Brian Czyl (middle infield), Adam Grego (corner outfield), Cliff Krause (shortstop), Alex Ventrella (outfield) and Bailey Welch (left side of the infield) all saw varsity time last spring. All of them return to key defensive positions.

“Our pitchers, catcher, shortstop and center fielder are all experienced players,” Meyer said. “We have some guys vying to play first base and in the outfield, and they’re going to be competing to play all season. Like I tell them, ‘Tryouts never end.’”

The Lions won the crown in the Interstate Eight Conference North Division last spring but came up short in the postseason with a 5-4 loss to Immaculate Conception in the regional title game. They have the pieces in place to compete for conference and postseason titles, but Meyer isn’t making those explicit goals.

“Instead of goals we talk about expectations, what you expect,” Meyer said. “If you set a goal but you don’t control it, how do you measure it? Everyone says they want to win a regional title and play in a sectional or supersectional, and I want to do that too, but you don’t control everything that goes into that. I expect that we’ll be battling for a conference title, but there’s going to be some good teams we have to compete with to get there.”

Meet the Lions

Pete Meyer

2012 record: 31-6 (15-1 Interstate Eight Conference)

Top players:

Kevin Coppin   jr.   C

Brian Czyl   sr.   2B/3B/SS

Adam Grego   sr.   RF/LF

Cliff Krause   jr.   SS/P

Ryan Van Volkenburg   sr.   P/CF

Alex Ventrella   sr.   P/OF

Bailey Welch   jr.   P/3B/SS

Next game: 1 p.m. Wednesday at Hinckley-Big Rock

15-1 Ryan Van Volkenburg's record as a varsity pitcher. He suffered his first loss in the regional championship game last spring

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