BOLINGBROOK — The 2012 season was a highlight for Bolingbrook's baseball program.
Not only did the Raiders finish with a winning record for the first time in two decades, they also advanced to the regional championship game for the first time since at least 1997.
The spring of 2013 could see more of the same as Bolingbrook brings back several key pieces from last year's team.
"It's a senior team," coach Chris Malinoski said. "You go across the diamond and we're going to lose nine, 10 seniors from this team. We're a team that needs nine guys playing together instead of relying on one or two guys, so the good thing is they have the ability and they've played together."
Leading the pack is senior pitcher and Lewis University-recruit Brad Elmore, who plays the field when not pitching. Elmore had a pair of home runs in last year's playoff win over Naperville North, showing that his talent extends beyond the mound. Classmates Steve Waldrop (Morehead State) and Mario Samuel (Heartland Community College) will also play in college. The trio should give the Raiders pitching depth that most teams will have trouble matching.
"The biggest key is replacing all the hitters we lost," Malinoski said. "We have enough arms, we just have to figure out our lineup."
Defensively Bolingbrook will miss shortstop Richard Sandeen, though Kyle Nadres has experience playing the position. He figures to lead off, with center fielder Nick Sramek not far down in the order. Andrew Nordbye's stick will also be missed, though Elmore, Samuel, Chandler Piekarski and Scott Foltz add to the defensive experience and to the lineup.
Like most teams, the Raiders have been at the mercy of the weather, which is to say they have been confined to indoor practice. It hasn't done much for infielders looking to field grounders or outfielders needing to take fly balls, but the weather has done nothing to hinder the development of the pitchers, who have been building up arm strength since the start of practice.
Matching last year's playoff advancement will be a challenge as Bolingbrook will once again be grouped with the Naperville and Aurora schools. Downers Grove North, Downers Grove South, Hinsdale Central and Hinsdale South are also part of the same sectional.
"Everybody's goals are to get to state and win state," Malinoski said. "This group of guys wants to compete, hopefully win 20 games, win conference and get beyond the regional, and they have the ability to do it."
Meet the Raiders
Coach: Chris Malinoski
2012 record: 18-17
Brad Elmore sr. P/3B
Scott Foltz sr. C
Kyle Nadres sr. SS
Chandler Piekarski sr. RF/1B
Tremaine Rhines jr. P/2B
Mario Samuel sr. P/OF
Nick Sramek sr. CF
Steve Waldrop sr. P
Next game: 4:30 p.m. Thursday vs. Lincoln-Way North