WEST CHICAGO – Switching over to the Upstate Eight Conference from the DuPage Valley Conference, West Chicago's baseball team didn't quite know what to expect from its new league this spring.
As a result, the Wildcats eschewed hopes of winning conference and set just one goal, which was to win a regional championship.
And in the end, the squad accomplished that and much more during the 2014 campaign, which saw West Chicago finish with 18 victories.
"I'm definitely satisfied," West Chicago coach Dan McCarthy said of the season. "We didn't know if the level would be as good [as the DVC] but it ended up being as good, if not better. There were six teams in the Upstate Eight that won regional championships. There are some really strong teams in there.
"Not knowing what to expect from the competition, we didn't know what our goals should be. So we had one goal to win a regional championship, and we met that goal. The kids showed an ability to stay focused all year, even when we were losing a handful of close games."
More than quadrupling their win total from a year ago, the Wildcats nearly knocked off No. 1 seed Batavia in the Schaumburg sectional semifinal on June 4. West Chicago lost 4-1 but had the bases loaded in the seventh inning.
"We got off to a bit of a rough start," McCarthy said of the Batavia game. "We were a little tight early but we battled back. We had a couple opportunities to score but we couldn't get the big hit."
From this group, the Wildcats lose a strong crop of eight seniors, five of whom will continue their baseball careers in college.
Austin Kordik and Ryan Kordik are headed to Hope College, Ryan Koester is set to attend Loras College and Antonio Solis and Grant Hosticka will be at the College of DuPage.
"It's a tremendous senior group," the coach said, "and they put in the time and effort to get better. It's also a close group, they hung around together and that makes the job so much easier as a coach."
Offensively, West Chicago will have a lot of production to replace, though the squad returns shortstop Connor Dall, who recently committed to Butler University. On the mound, the Wildcats will bring back Fred Gosbeth, Peyton Siedler and Alex Cabral.
The Wildcats' summer season began on Monday.
"I want to evaluate the kids and really get a good look at the sophomores," said McCarthy about what he is looking for this summer.
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