ELMHURST – Expectations are starting to rise in the York baseball program, and seniors like Nolan Spencer will be key if the Dukes will be able to meet those expectations next spring.
Spencer is among a handful of incoming seniors that already have plenty of varsity experience. Those players started the journey of building a team this summer with younger players, giving coach Dave Kalal a glimpse at what's to come.
York won its first summer playoff game, beating Morton 6-3, before being shut out by Montini 4-0 on July 15.
"You got a couple returning starters that are seniors now and our team chemistry was unbelievable and I'm hoping we can get the same thing going next year," Spencer said. "It's only summer and we got tryouts next year. We'll hope to mesh better with them as the season progresses."
Spencer and Kyle Coughlin were all-conference players as juniors in the spring that led the charge this summer. Senior Ryan Gilmartin also had a big summer with a 5-0 record on the mound. Coughlin, a two-way player, went 3-0 on the mound.
As for the newcomers, junior Cole Miller stands out because he already has two years of varsity experience. The junior will join York after spending two years at Timothy Christian, where he was one of the Trojans' top players.
"Cam Fowler did a nice job for us pitching and playing some outfield," Kalal said. "Matt Reicker, another junior, did a nice job for us. Our senior guys are the guys we know who can do things."
After going through a spring season in which York began with only a few players with significant varsity playing time and still won the West Suburban Silver, the Dukes will enter next season with much more known entities in the fold. There are still some holes to fill and open positions to be won.
Kalal got a good look at his players while still dealing with a lot of players leaving on weekends for travel tournaments and showcases.
"The key is can we find some juniors that we can plug into certain spots," Kalal said. "We feel like we did that. We had a good turnout for games this summer with our players showing up. That helps us as a coaching staff to determine what we have going on next year.
"We have to make some adjustments and fine tune some things. We've got a good group of kids. We've got some arms. We can hit a little bit. We've got some good team speed. We're looking forward to next spring."
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