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: 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: Westmont baseball
Impact: Batting .365 (third on the team) with 16 runs (fourth on the team) in the No. 2 spot in the order is only part of Kokoszka's value to the Sentinels. As a catcher, he is the linchpin to the defense and has committed just two errors in 124 chances, and he has handled a pitching staff with a 3.44 team ERA. "His catching has been amazing, and he's pretty much our captain because he runs the defense back there," Westmont coach D.J. Cocks said. "He's been amazing."
School: Westmont baseball
Impact: Among the team leaders with 20 RBIs and a .344 average, Moran has been even more impressive on the mound where is one of Westmont's top pitchers. As of May 1, Moran had a 4-1 record with one of Westmont's two saves, was second on the team with 23 strikeouts in a little over 29 innings, and had a 3.54 ERA. "He's way above where he was last year," Westmont coach D.J. Cocks said. "He had no varsity wins last year, and now I'd say he's probably our No. 2 pitcher. He's been lights-out on the mound."
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.
School: Benet softball
Impact: There are Redwings players with more eye-popping stats than York, but no player has done more to keep Benet's Big Red Machine humming this season. When ace pitcher Molly Moran went down with a knee injury, York assumed that role and had a 12-2 record and 2.40 ERA as of May 1. "She's been doing a fantastic job pitching and keeping us in games," Benet coach Jerry Schilf said. "She's been very steady defensively; anything near her it seems like she gets it. And she's been hitting." York was among Benet's leading hitters through 16 games with a .465 average, two home runs and 18 RBIs.