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Breakout diamond stars from Glenbard East, AT, Montini, Willowbrook

Rising stars emerge for area high school baseball, softball teams

Willowbrook's Jake Cady waits for the pitch April 26 at Lyons Township.
Willowbrook's Jake Cady waits for the pitch April 26 at Lyons Township.

Many high school players are debuting in the spotlight this spring for area baseball and softball teams – from seniors stepping into leadership roles to underclassmen earning starting varsity jobs.

Jake Cady

School: Willowbrook baseball

Class: Junior

Position: Pitcher/third base

Impact: The junior right-hander has stepped into a bigger role with the pitching staff as the season has gone on. His latest performance was a complete-game shutout that stunned Downers Grove South in the series rubber game Monday. Cady outdueled Mustang-ace and Iowa-recruit Zach Burdi in a 1-0 Warrior win. On the season, Cady has a 1.88 ERA with two wins and a save.

Joe Kurucar

School: Addison Trail baseball

Class: Junior

Position: Center field/pitcher

Impact: Kurucar has been a mainstay in the Addison Trail lineup and has earned his spot thanks to a .356 batting average and 11 RBIs entering Wednesday. The center fielder has made an impact in the lineup despite frequently moving around in the order.

Jake Pestel

School: Montini baseball

Class: Sophomore

Position: Second base

Impact: Pestel first played with the varsity team last summer and impressed coaches with his skills at second base despite never having played in the infield. The converted outfielder has stuck at the position during the spring season and has been a key part of a Montini defense that coach Bob Landi referred to as the best they’ve had in years. “We are capable of turning a double play on just about anybody,” Landi said.

Ari Renc

School: Addison Trail softball

Class: Sophomore

Position: Center field

Impact: Renc has been part of the Addison Trail softball revival this year. The sophomore is hitting nearly .400 in her first year on varsity and is a key defender in center field. Renc also has 10 stolen bases thanks to her ability to “run like a deer” as AT coach Mark Olson said.

Alyssa Sclafani

School: Montini softball

Class: Freshman

Position: Catcher

Impact: Before the season, Montini coach Richie Costante said Sclafani would break all of the school’s records before she left, and so far she’s showing the kind of talent to prove him right. Sclafani entered Wednesday with seven home runs, 19 extra-base hits and 35 RBIs in 25 games. The freshman held a .494 batting average, which amazingly was only third on the team.

Carissa Slobodecki

School: Glenbard East softball

Class: Junior

Position: Outfield

Impact: Slobodecki has stepped up her game this season to the tune of a .327 batting average entering Wednesday. That number is second on the team behind Megan Cotterill. The outfielder has been one of the Rams’ top bats while hitting from the No. 2 hole.

D.J. Spears

School: Glenbard East baseball

Class: Senior

Position: Pitcher/first base

Impact: Spears was a starter for the Rams last year, but he’s starting to hit his stride later this season. He has a 2.89 ERA on the mound, including back-to-back complete game victories against DuPage Valley Conference opposition. Offensively, he was hitting .292 through Wednesday with three homers, 12 RBIs and 12 runs scored.

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