Baseball preview: New-look Blazers hope to build on 23-win season
Addison Trail must replace seven starters to replicate 2012 success
ADDISON — The Blazers are coming off a 23-win season that included a second-place finish in the West Suburban Gold, but this year's team will look very different.
Most of the nucleus, especially on the pitching side, of that squad is gone. AT will rely on a few seniors and a number of juniors to replicate last year's success.
"We lost seven of our nine starters," said coach Steve Gilliam. "We'd like to be where we were last year, but each group is different."
Senior catcher Nick Rybarczyk, a Southern Illinois signee, will be a huge part of the team, but he's going to miss a few weeks of the season because of a knee injury. The third-year varsity player has a strong arm behind the plate and will bat in the middle of the order once he returns.
Other senior returners include Jordan Garcia, who was also a standout for the basketball team in the winter, Bradley Schonder, Rocco Constabile and Anthony Infantino.
The Blazers will also be without a pair of starters due to suspension for a third of the season.
"It's a chance for the young guys to step up and get some experience," Gilliam said. "I think we'll be a lot better by the end of this year because some of the guys are juniors and they're going to get some varsity experience and we'll get those suspension and injury guys back."
Among the juniors, Joe Amato, Frank Amato and Matt Piotrowski will all see time on the mound and figure to play big roles.
AT lost its season opener Wednesday at Romeoville, 6-1, which was the first time the Blazers had been outside for any spring activity.
"They've been working hard and now we've just got to take it to the field, execute and make plays," Gilliam said.
Meet the Blazers
Coach: Steve Gilliam
2012 record: 23-14 (13-5 West Suburban Gold)
Rocco Costabile sr. OF
Jordan Garcia sr. 2B
Anthony Infantino sr. P
Nick Rybarczyk sr. C
Bradley Schonder sr. P/IF/OF
First game: 10 a.m. Saturday at Lyons Township
4: Playoff wins for Addison Trail baseball in the last five years