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.
School: Bolingbrook baseball
Impact: In need of another pitcher to bolster the staff behind starters Brad Elmore, Mario Samuel and Steve Waldrop, Silva has done just that for the Raiders. His 1-2 record is misleading as he has allowed just 10 hits and has struck out 14 batters over 15 innings of work with an ERA of just 1.87. He flirted with a no-hitter in his win over Thornridge.
School: Bolingbrook softball
Impact: Lotarski saw a little bit of action in the circle last season, but she has been the Raiders' primary pitcher this season and has performed well in that role. Though her record stands at 7-7, her other stats — 104 strikeouts in 88 innings, 1.91 ERA, 23 walks, .193 opponents' batting average — are impressive. "Megan has a way about her on the mound. She is so even-keeled," Bolingbrook coach Jean Ryan-Moak said. "She is so fluid and doesn't let what is going on around her affect her."
School: Lisle baseball
Impact: Ventrella pitched a no-hitter against Seneca April 29, only solidifying his role as Lisle's ace pitcher. Demonstrating command of four pitches, Ventrella leads the team in innings pitched (33.2), ERA (0.62), WHIP (0.65) and strikeouts (49) and has a 3-0 record as of May 2. "He's been throwing the ball well all year," Lisle coach Pete Meyer said. "He's been lights-out."
School: Downers Grove South baseball
Impact: Zinnecker was on the radar of South's varsity coaching staff when he played on the sophomore squad last season, but he has made a bigger impact than expected for the varsity team this year. Playing the infield the last two seasons, Zinnecker has made a flawless switch to outfield and has produced consistently at the plate (.413 average with 16 RBIs) all season. "He's solid in the outfield and he hits for us," South coach Darren Orel said. "He's really stepped up this season."
School: Downers Grove South softball
Impact: McFarland has made the jump from freshman ball to varsity ball look effortless. With a .472 batting average, she ranks third among the Mustangs' regulars. She leads the team with four home runs and is second with 18 RBIs, and she has played error-free defense in the outfield. "She's done a really nice job for us so far," South coach Ron Havelka said.