Baseball preview: Solid Willowbrook core returns from 23-win team

Warriors figure to be in contention for a conference title

VILLA PARK — Two stars from last season return to give Willowbrook baseball some top talent this spring.

Senior pitcher David Cericola is a top-of-the-line ace and junior first baseman Mike Rothmund was one of the most productive sophomores in the area last year.

Throw in Cal Moltzan, an all-conference pick committed to play for Mesa Community College in Arizona, and three-year starter Dom Battgalia, and the Warriors have a returning core that would make most coaches jealous.

The Warriors made it to a Class 4A sectional final despite being just a 13 seed. They won't sneak up on anyone this season.

Senior Kevin Johnson will likely be the No. 2 starter after Cericola and will bat second in the order behind Battaglia. Junior T.J. Case should also contribute to the pitching staff thanks to mid 80s velocity.

Willowbrook was fourth in the West Suburban Gold last season and will be tested early in its quest to move up in the conference. Defending Gold champ Hinsdale South hosts the Warriors for a doubleheader on Saturday, and the Warriors will host the series finale on Monday.

It's a tough early conference series considering Willowbrook just played its first game of the season on Wednesday, a 5-0 loss against Batavia.

Cericola took the loss on the mound and the Warriors managed just three hits. Case, junior Jake Cady and senior Rob Huette each pitched in relief.

Brian Johnson, Gabriel Gage, Tyler Vavrek and Jeremy Kucik also were in the batting lineup for the opener.

Before taking on Hinsdale South, the Warriors will host Metea Valley on Friday.

Meet the Warriors

Coach:
Vic Wisner

2012 record: 23-16 (11-7 West Suburban Gold)

Top players:

Dom Battaglia sr. OF

David Cericola sr. P

Cal Moltzan sr. OF

Mike Rothmund jr. 1B

Next game: 11 a.m. Friday at home vs. Metea Valley

94: Strikeouts by pitcher David Cericola last year to go with a 0.90 ERA