ELMHURST – York’s baseball team has just three players that saw significant playing time last year, so there are a lot of new faces in the Dukes’ lineup and pitching staff.
Anthony Santos, the team’s top pitcher and middle of the order first baseman, leads the way. Santos had a quality start in the team’s 4-3 season-opening loss to Waubonsie Valley on Saturday and is committed to Blackhawk Community College.
Brothers Jake and Seth Dvorak also were regulars in the lineup last year, and they follow Santos in the batting order. Seth also is pitching this year and took a hard-luck loss in a 2-1 defeat to Rolling Meadows on Monday.
Seniors Brendan Ryan, Jack Polte and Nick Leone are all varsity returners but didn’t play much last spring.
“We’ve got 13 seniors on the roster so there’s some experience, but there’s not a lot of experience,” coach Dave Kalal said. “We’ve got a good mix of juniors that are athletic and are working hard. We’re just trying to find our way.”
Despite the youth, Kalal still has hopes that the Dukes can compete in the West Suburban Silver. York won the league in 2012 but was just 8-10 in the Silver last year.
“I think we feel as a program we have a chance to compete in the conference,” Kalal said. “We know that it’s Oak Park and LT and whatever other five teams in the conference can battle with them. That’s the way it’s going to be. We have a good feeling with this group of kids.”
In order to compete with the Huskies and Lions, York will need a handful of juniors to play well right away. Conference play starts Saturday with the Dukes beginning a three-game series against Oak Park-River Forest. Juniors Nolan Spencer and Sam Craggs will be key as tablesetters in the York lineup.
“We’ve got four or five juniors in the lineup all the time and it’s a learning curve for them playing at the varsity level, the speed, the pitching, but I’ve got a lot of confidence in our guys that we’re going to figure it out as the season goes on,” Kalal said.
Coach: Dave Kalal2013 record: 16-20Top players: Jake Dvorak sr. 1B Seth Dvorak sr. C/IF/P Anthony Santos sr. 1B/P