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Pitching could be Hornets' strength again in 2014

Hinsdale Central debuts new rotation, lineup during summer season

With senior pitchers Matt Marrera, Matt Reschke and Mike Rizzo leading the way, Hinsdale South’s baseball team won a West Suburban Gold title in the spring.

During the course of the summer season, head coach Paul Hoel has seen indications that pitching could once again be a strength.

“Our top three or four guys have done a real nice job on the mound, so we feel really comfortable on the mound again,” Hoel said.

Incoming seniors Eric Benson, Mike Mullaney, Jon Uba and junior Anthony Nicholas have emerged as foundations of the rotation for 2014. Benson struck out 12 batters and earned a complete game win when the Hornets topped Westmont 5-3 in the first round of the summer state playoffs on Monday.

The summer has also been a crucial time for Hoel to get a glimpse of what his lineup card could look like come spring time.

Don Buonavolanto and Joe Oehmen were regulars in the spring and figure to anchor the lineup come 2014, so the summer season has been critical for the players hoping to crack the varsity lineup next year.

“I definitely think it’s just settling down and being at ease. We had a senior-loaded team in the spring, so it’s good for guys to fill a role, get a lot of at-bats and get comfortable defensively and offensively and trust their skills,” Hoel said. “That’s what it really was – a chance for kids to perform.”

Development over the summer is more important to Hoel than wins and losses, and the same holds true for Bill Duffy, who ran Hinsdale Central’s summer program until the Red Devils’ season ended Monday with a 7-0 loss to Aurora Central Catholic in a summer playoff game.

“The summer season is basically giving the kids coming back next spring a chance to continue to develop their fundamentals,” said Duffy, a freshman coach at Central the past two spring seasons. “For kids that weren’t in the program in the spring, it’s like a tryout and a chance for them to showcase their skills.”

The summer is particularly important for Central’s pitchers. Christian Bokich (Miami of Ohio), Adam Dressler (Purdue) and Bobby Skogsbergh (Boston College) have graduated, as have hurlers Basil Arain, Tom Concklin, Andrew Eck and Aaron Walsh.

All told, the Red Devils are likely to bring back just three pitchers – Charlie Banke, Austin Butler and Nick Senicka – that saw any mound time last spring, with Butler’s 12-1/3 innings pitched the highest total.

The lineup could also have a new look next spring. Chris Botsoe, Ryan Haff, Matt Muellner and Jacob White are the only players who finished in the top-10 in plate appearances eligible to return; the rest have graduated. There is little to no practice time during the summer season, but Duffy and the Red Devils made the most of the moments they did have.

“I tried to tell our pitchers to attack hitters and attack the zone, and our hitters to think about the situation at the plate,” Duffy said. “And I talked to our infielders and outfielders to know where they were going with the ball. The idea in the summer is to learn from your mistakes and not have it happen to you in the spring.”

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