DARIEN – If coaches could build their ideal baseball team, most would start their squad with a solid defensive infield and a deep pitching staff.
That’s exactly what Hinsdale South has this season, a reason for optimism for the Hornets.
“I think we should be in decent shape,” head coach Paul Hoel said. “We have a lot of guys who played roles for us last year.”
In the infield, Northern Illinois recruit Don Buonavolanto is back at shortstop and Joe Oehmen returns to second base. Brian Hoel, the coach’s son, saw time at various positions last season and will play third base. Joe Jablonski returns behind the plate.
“Our infield is really solid,” coach Hoel said. “We glove the ball really well behind our pitchers, and our pitchers, we have six quality guys. I don’t think we have a No. 1-type guy, but they’re all like No. 2 and 3-type guys.”
Jon Uba, Eric Benson and Mike Mullaney all saw time on the mound in 2013 as nonconference starters. Juniors Anthony Nicholas and Lucas Carlson and sophomore Tim Dziergas figure to be part of the starting rotation.
Dziergas will play at first base when not pitching, while Mullaney will see time in left field. Dean Serritella is slated to play center field and Mike Meyers will see time in right.
Offensively, South doesn’t have any big boppers but does have a lineup that can bunt, run and do other things to pressure defenses.
“We’re a singles team, but all nine guys can run,” Hoel said. “It’s going to come down to getting base hits and getting on, bunting guys over, taking advantage of balls in the dirt and things like that. Our guys like the way we play. They embrace it.”
The Hornets had their first three games postponed because of weather but left for the four-game USA Classic tournament in Tennessee on Tuesday.
“It’s 16 teams from all over the country and it’s some good competition,” Hoel said. “It’s a great opportunity for us, and it’s nice, too, because we’ll be able to get our pitchers throwing every day.”
The Hornets are two-time defending West Suburban Gold champs, compiling a 32-4 conference record the last two seasons (16-2 each season). Winning a third straight title is a goal but isn’t a major topic of discussion.
“We don’t even talk about it,” Hoel said. “That’s a goal every year, so they know that’s what the plan is. We try to talk about doing the little things to give ourselves a chance to be in that position at the end of the year.”
Hinsdale South Hornets
Coach: Paul Hoel
2013 record: 22-11
Eric Benson sr. P
Don Buonavolanto sr. SS
Brian Hoel sr. 3B
Joe Jablonski sr. C
Mike Meyers sr. RF
Mike Mullaney sr. P
Joe Oehmen sr. 2B
Jon Uba sr. P