WESTMONT – In Robert Kokoszka, Jean Pietrzak and Ryan Schlicher, three key contributors for Westmont High School’s baseball team have been lost to graduation.
Players such as shortstop and University of Michigan recruit Charlie Donovan, pitcher/first baseman Greg Pietrzak, third baseman John Kelly and pitcher/outfielder Zach Moran – all expected to return next spring – are known commodities. It’s getting a glimpse of the younger talent coming through the ranks that makes the summer season so important for head coach DJ Cocks.
“What I want to see are the kids who were sophomores and are going to be juniors and the things they can do,” Cocks said. “I move guys around defensively and see where I like them, and that helps me a ton to get a feel of what they can do and can’t do heading into next spring.”
This summer has been especially helpful in regards to the pitching staff, which lost No. 1 starter Jean Pietrzak. Cocks has had a chance to get a good look of incoming sophomore Adam Doll and other players who could be coming up from the sophomore team to join the varsity in the spring.
“You can watch them in the bullpen all you want, but when there’s live batters it’s a whole new ballgame,” Cocks said. “It’s good from a pitching standpoint to mix it up and use a bunch of different guys.”
During the summer season, there isn’t practice time like there is during the spring so any coaching usually is done spur of the moment.
“We’re always instructing and helping them get better,” Cocks said. “If we’re not happy with what we’re doing defensively, we go through what the problem is and what we have to do to fix it.”
With Donovan, Moran and incoming junior Andrew Rosol splitting time between travel ball and high school ball, the Sentinels struggled through the summer season and were 3-10-1 with one game left before the summer playoffs started Monday. Based on their record, they were a lower playoff seed and had to play a play-in game against St. Francis in the playoff opener.
Fortunately, wins and losses aren’t as important in the summer as they are in the spring.
“Of course you want to win, but the main thing is to go out, have fun playing and see what the guys can do,” Cocks said. “It’s beneficial for the players and for the coaches and me to see what they can do on a full-time basis.”