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: Downers Grove North softball
Impact: There have been a ton of firsts for Gockman this season. She had never batted clean-up before this season, but now she is a mainstay in that spot in the order. She had never hit a home run before, and she has five already this season. She also has been able to call a few games on her own as a catcher. She's had a breakout season in every way. "I was looking for a big year out of her, and she's been wonderful," North coach Mark Magro said.
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: Downers Grove North baseball
Impact: Zabloudil saw limited action as the Trojans' back-up catcher last season and has stepped into the full-time role without a problem. Playing in all 20 games as of May 2, he had a .408 batting average, two home runs, 16 RBIs and was tied for the team lead with 11 walks. Most importantly, Zabloudil has done a great job handling North's pitching staff. "His No. 1 job is to handle the pitchers and he's stepped in and done that well," North coach Chad Isaacson said. "He's outstanding defensively and he calls a good game."
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."