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Three-sport star D.J. Deolitsis drives Hornets in first season as leadoff hitter

DARIEN – In the era of the modern athlete, D.J. Deolitsis is something of a throwback.

While many high school athletes focus on excelling in one sport and maybe playing another for fun, Deolitsis excels at three sports at Hinsdale South.

He was the quarterback for the Hornets’ playoff-qualifying football team and a starting guard in basketball. The senior now is the leadoff batter for the baseball team, which is in contention for the West Suburban Gold title with one three-game series left Saturday and Monday against Proviso East.

“I started playing basketball first,” Deolitsis said. “I was really young. My mom said I carried a basketball around with me when I was 1½ or 2 years old, and I took it everywhere.”

Basketball was Deolitsis’ first love. He started playing baseball when he was old enough for tee ball, and his football career started soon after that. All three sports are on equal footing with him.

“I don’t know if I can pick my one favorite out of the three,” he said. “I like all of them.”

This spring, Deolitsis has been the spark at the top of the order for a South team that was 19-8 overall after Tuesday’s game against defending state champion Oak Park-River Forest and is leading the WSG with a 13-2 mark. He is the outright team leader or among the team leaders in almost every key offensive category from that leadoff spot, and he’s had that success while adjusting to being the first batter.

“I never batted leadoff before this year,” he said. “It’s not bad. I don’t mind it. I usually like to swing at the first pitch so as a leadoff hitter I just try to tell myself to be more patient. That part of it wasn’t natural to me.”

Deolitsis was the No. 2 hitter last season, but South coach Paul Hoel had plenty of reasons to put him in top spot in the order.

“D.J. is a very good hitter, he’s an exceptional defender in left field and center field, and he has great speed on the basepaths,” Hoel said. “He’s an excellent all-around ballplayer.”

In his second varsity season, Deolitsis has emerged as a team leader, one that sets a good example for his teammates to follow.

“I wouldn’t really say I’m a vocal kind of leader,” he said. “I just come and work hard, do what I do and hope the other guys see that and follow that.”

Unfortunately, whenever the Hornets’ season ends, so too will Deolitsis’ athletic career. Planning to attend either Illinois or Indiana after he graduates, he said he went to baseball showcases in the offseason but drew only limited interest from collegiate programs. Maybe the college coaches didn’t see what Hoel sees on a daily basis.

“He’s a leader and he plays hard,” Hoel said. “He’s very competitive. He’s a great student and a great kid.”

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