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Baseball preview: SIU-bound Kopach at forefront of DGN's infield

A baseball coach would do anything for solid infield defense up the middle. Downers Grove North coach Chad Isaacson has it around the horn.

Published: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 12:40 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 1:59 p.m. CDT
Troy Southard returns to the mound for Downers Grove North. File photo by Matthew Piechalak — mpiechalak@shawmedia.com

DOWNERS GROVE — A baseball coach would do anything for solid infield defense up the middle. Downers Grove North coach Chad Isaacson has it around the horn.

"We have experience in the infield and there's no doubt about that," Isaacson said. "If you were to say where is our strength, we have guys that can glove the ball in the infield."

Southern Illinois-bound shortstop Connor Kopach hit well over .300 last spring, and to his right is junior third baseman Joe Provenzano, who hit .350. Ray Greco at second and Troy Southard and Jack Goergen at first round out the experienced infield, but the Trojans defensive strength extends past the infield dirt. James Sheldon adds to the strength up the middle in center field and David Henson returns to right.

"We have some leadership and experience," Isaacson said. "There are six guys that have seen a lot of innings in our conference."

Like every other team in the area, North has had to deal with the lingering winter weather, which led to the cancellation of three games as of March 23. Though they haven't been on a diamond yet, even for practice, the Trojans have been able to sneak outside on turf fields, which has allowed them to work on more than just batting practice and long toss.

"We've been able to do everything possible except getting ground balls off of an infield," Isaacson said. "And you can do fungoes to an outfield, but they're not going to get much until they get real true reads off of a bat. You can hit a thousand fungoes, but for an outfielder your best reads are off a bat."

The weather hasn't had too much effect on the pitching staff. Southard and Michael O'Malley were both starters in West Suburban Silver games last year, while Lucas Fisher also saw his fair share of innings. All three have been able to build up arm strength with simulated games in practice, but there are always concerns with pitching, no matter the team or the staff.

"It's a little bit of a puzzle. They have to get their work in but we have to get them set up for conference, so you have to be careful with what you're doing," Isaacson said. "We told them we can't worry about it. We'll worry about today today and worry about tomorrow another time."

If the weather breaks, the Trojans are slated to open West Suburban Silver play at York Saturday. Defending Class 4A state finalists Lyons Township and Oak Park-River Forest and a Hinsdale Central team with three Division I starting pitchers will provide a challenge for the Trojans. Isaacson is keeping the goals in check.

"I've never set numbers on any of these guys. Those things kind of fall into place," he said. "I say the same thing every single year. It's playing the game the right way and giving ourselves an opportunity to win, and everything else will work itself out."

Meet the Trojans

Chad Isaacson

2012 record: 19-15 (10-8 West Suburban Silver)

Top players:

Lucas Fisher   sr.   P

Jack Goergen   sr.   1B/DH

Ray Greco   jr.   2B

David Henson   sr.   RF

Connor Kopach   sr.   SS

Michael O'Malley   sr.   P

Joe Provenzano   jr.   3B

James Sheldon   sr.   CF

Troy Southard   sr.   P/1B

Next game: 10 a.m. Saturday at York

.360  Connor Kopach's batting average last spring

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