WESTERN SPRINGS – After Lyons Township lost its first round state summer baseball playoff game, coach George Ushela couldn't remember the last time that happened.
Ushela puts more emphasis on the summer that most coaches and the Lions have paid that back with plenty of success. Last year the Lions made it to the summer state final and the year before they won the title.
That's what made the 4-0 loss to Montini on July 15 so shocking. LT entered as the top seed in the 16-team Fenwick regional and had lost just four times in the summer.
However, Montini ace Sean Frontzak, who starred as a junior in the spring, shut the Lions out and the Broncos scored just enough late in the game off LT starter Jose Venegas. The lack of offense was nothing new this summer.
"We're not the greatest offensive team at this point," Ushela said. "We had a pretty good summer."
While fighting absences from travel ball and showcases, Ushela got to see a number of different players that will make up most of the varsity team next spring. Key contributors from the spring Charlie Harrigan, Thomas Hickey and Jack Oremus will be the core of next year's team.
Hickey only pitched once for LT in the summer while also pitching for travel ball.
"We had a lot of guys missing over the summer," Ushela said. "It was a tough year for evaluating. It's going to be competitive for spots next year."
Harrigan went back and forth between wood and metal bats during the summer. The Lions play with metal, but his travel team plays with wood bats frequently.
"The competition is a little bit better in travel," Harrigan said. "It's not that big [a difference]. The biggest difference is wood to metal. At first it's frustrating, but then you get the hang of it. It's pretty much the same. The ball doesn't go as far obviously, but once you get the hang of it it's kind of the same."
The outfielder has some college interest. After a busy summer Harrigan and the Lions will get a break from the diamond.
"It's a lot of baseball so it's good to get a little break from it," Harrigan said. "It was a rough summer for our team. We couldn't really hit at all."
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