LISLE – Ryan Van Volkenburg is torn.
The senior baseball player at Lisle High Schools knows his career will continue in college next season at Maryville University in St. Louis, but the hard part is deciding in what manner he wants to continue his career.
“They really want me to be a pitcher, but they’re going to see what I can do with the bat, so in the fall I’ll do both and he [head coach Seth Von Behren]will pick whatever he likes me doing best,” Van Volkenburg said.
Therein lies the rub. Van Volkenburg would love to pitch for the Saints, but he’d love playing every day even more.
“I think I’d rather be in the field so I know I’m going to play every day,” he said. “When you pitch, it’s only once a week as a starter or even less if you pitch in relief. I like pitching better, but I’d rather play every day.”
Maybe he can open Von Behren’s eyes with what he’s doing this spring. He gets to pitch and play the field with the Lions, and he does both well. Among Lisle’s leading hitters (he leads the team in runs scored), he is also 3-1 on the mound with a 3.67 earned run average and 35 strikeouts in 26.2 innings pitched (as of Monday).
While Van Volkenburg has given thought to matriculating at Maryville, he remains more focused on leading the Lions into the postseason, which begins May 15. Van Volkenburg and his teammates are concentrating on atoning for an early playoff exit last season after Lisle won 30 games in the regular season.
Before thinking about the postseason, the Lions are turning their sights on the Interstate Eight Conference North Division title. A 3-1 loss to Westmont Monday at Benedictine University put them a game back in the loss column, but the Lions had a chance to get the game right back when they traveled to face Westmont on Tuesday afternoon.
“Everybody has their minds on the playoffs, and we’re ready for the playoffs, but right now our focus is still on winning conference,” Van Volkenburg said after Monday’s game. “We’re right there. We can still win it.”
Winning conference and winning in the playoffs are two different scenarios, but they both come down to the same thing – executing.
“At the beginning of the season we weren’t making the plays, we were getting killed by errors,” Van Volkenburg said. “Now we’ve cut down on those and we’re playing better. Cleaning up the little things are huge.”
A pair of errors led to two unearned runs for Westmont in the top of the seventh of Monday’s loss to the Sentinels. Those are the plays Lisle looks to limit as it gets set to start postseason play next week.
“We’ve been better fielding,” Lisle coach Pete Meyer said. “We’re not making two errors on one play so we’re doing a good job limiting our mistakes. When you make one or two a game you should be in it. It’s when you make two on one play or several throughout a game that you take yourself out of it.”