WHEATON – The toughest opponent for Wheaton's baseball team this summer wasn't any of the squads in the other dugouts.
Instead, it was Mother Nature.
With the wet weather of this past spring carrying over to June and July, the Falcons saw some of their scheduled contests washed out. But in the games they did get in, the team showed plenty of promise heading into 2014.
"It went well," said Wheaton North coach Dan Schoessling. "The problem was the weather, we didn't get in enough games, at least as many games as we'd like. When we played, we did pretty well. We showed some signs that we will compete next spring which is good to see."
Wheaton North won 12 of its 17 games before opening the summer tournament Monday with a 6-4 win over Wheaton Warrenville South. Stephen Crane was the winning pitcher with Michael Mannix notching the save.
Having just graduated an exceptionally strong senior, Schoessling and his staff have gotten to see new faces the last six weeks.
"We've got a lot of competition throughout the field," the coach said. "Infield, outfield, on the mound, you name it. We've got kids competing for spots and that can be a good thing."
One major component that needs retooling is the pitching staff, which lost a combined 215 innings and 22 wins from the quartet of Lake Bachar, Tom Colletti, Doug Hayes and Sam Nafziger.
Incoming seniors Crane, Andrew Slivinski and Ben Cary threw well this summer and should be joined next spring by juniors Charles Robin and Nick Traversa.
Offensively, the Falcons do return a core of experienced players in Jacob Taschetta, Mannix, Greg Scandora and Jeff Harper.
"We did a good job this summer of getting guys on base," Schoessling said, "though we were a little inconsistent in terms of when we saw better pitching. At the top of the lineup, we have guys who got quite a few at-bats in the spring. We will be relying on those guys a lot offensively."