ELMHURST – Before the baseball season started, York's Anthony Santos knew he would have to play a big role.
The Dukes' senior first baseman and pitcher had the most experience on the team and was one of just a few players on the team who had already seen significant varsity playing time. Santos would deny that he put the team on his shoulders, but he was certainly the most valuable player in the area.
Santos' huge season as a two-way player helped the Dukes surprisingly vault to a share of the West Suburban Silver title. For his strong showing, Santos is the all-area team MVP.
His numbers as either a pitcher or hitter would be enough to make him one of the top players in the area. To do it both ways is what made Santos a cut above. He hit .460 with 37 RBIs and 16 extra-base hits. On the mound he posted a 7-1 record with a 1.04 ERA and 58 strikeouts in 47 innings.
"I knew personally I had to step up and be a leader," Santos said. "I knew I had a great season, but I was just having fun the entire season. Something clicked this year."
Santos' focus was to bring the team together so they could maximize their potential. After taking care of the little things, the on field performance took care of itself for Santos.
"It was by far the most fun year I had of baseball," Santos said. "It was the closest team I've been a part of. All the younger kids, we embraced them. We had a lot of fun, especially winning conference [because] no one expected us to."
When the Dukes began the season 0-5 it appeared the team was going to suffer a rebuilding season. It seemed the younger players needed to adapt to varsity ball and the lack of experience was going to cost them.
Then the Dukes won the final two games of a series against powerhouse Oak Park-River Forest to open 2-1 in the Silver. More adversity followed when York lost the next two conference series and still plodded along with an 8-11 overall record.
York wouldn't lose in conference again, winning their final nine Silver games.
Santos and fellow senior three-year varsity player Seth Dvorak left York as two-time conference champs.
"We can't say too many people have done that at York because we don't have a history and a tradition of it, but that's what we're trying to get to and that's what we're trying to build up to," coach Dave Kalal said.
After an earlier than expected playoff exit, Santos has been focusing on his college career. His dream of playing Division I baseball has been deferred for now.
He landed with Black Hawk College, a community college in Moline, with the hopes of transferring to a Division I program when his two years in the Quad Cities are up.
"I want to make an impact on the team," Santos said. "Try to get a starting spot and play hard, work hard and hopefully the coaches respect me and we have a good year."
He expects to be used as a pitcher and designated hitter at Black Hawk. This summer, Santos is playing for Fastball USA in Schaumburg to prepare for college.
He won't soon forget this spring season with York though.
"To be honest it hasn't really hit me yet," Santos said of leaving York. "I'm sure once college starts I'll miss it. I'm definitely going to miss [York] after a great four years."
About Anthony Santos
Position: Pitcher/first base
Weight: 200 pounds
Jersey: No. 23
College: Black Hawk College