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High school baseball: IC Catholic, Willowbrook, York, other area teams ready to play ball

Area baseball teams aiming for success

The first pitches of the high school baseball season have been thrown, and teams already are jockeying for position in conference races and postseason seeding. Here’s the outlook for the rest of the season for IC Catholic, Timothy Christian, York, and other area teams.

Glenbard East Rams

Coach: Joel Pelland

2016 record: 28-9

Top players


Jacob Behrendt sr. IF

Nathan Bertuca sr. IF/P

Brett Bushka so. C

Brett Tomlinson sr. P

Outlook: A slew of seniors who led the way last year have moved on, opening the door for some new contributors.

Bertuca and Bushka were mainstays in the lineup last year, but beyond that there is little experience. Behrendt and fellow seniors Austin Grote, Conner Grzenia, Austin Novak and Tommy Wilkans will be counted on to contribute.

Tomlinson won five games on the mound last year and will be the leader of a staff that could include Bertuca, Grote, Grzenia and seniors Alex Deli, Steve O’Brien and Brandon Quigley.

IC Catholic Knights

Coach: Frank DeAngelis

2016 record: 20-17

Top players


Paul Morris III sr. 2B/P

Austin Reed sr. SS/P

Brendan Russ sr. OF/P

Joey Salvi sr. IF/OF/P

Matt Sutton sr. CF/P

CJ West jr. 3B/P

Outlook: Former IC student DeAngelis takes over on the bench and inherits a team with plenty of athletic talent.

Morris, Reed, Russ and Salvi were all key contributors last year and are slated for big spots this season on both sides of the ball. Morris had two RBIs and scored two runs in a 9-3 Metro Suburban Conference win against Fenton on April 4. Russ scored a run and scattered five hits over six innings on the mound to earn the win.

Senior John Hoffman has knocked in nine runs so far this season while Morris and West each have eight hits.

Salvi has seen the most work on the mound, but a large arsenal of arms includes Morris, Reed, Hoffman, West, senior Alfonso Cepeda and juniors Andrew Falduto and CJ Slowinski.

Montini Broncos

Coach: Rich Janor

2016 record: 23-15

Top players


Cooper Hynes sr. C/OF

Alex Luka sr. 1B/P

Nick Malik sr. C/OF

Dan Mallory sr. P

Anthony Rogers sr. P

Ben Steiner jr. 3B/P

Outlook: After advancing to a Class 3A sectional final last year, the Broncos should have a potent offense leading the way as several new pitchers adjust to larger roles.

Luka drove in 29 runs last year while Hynes, Malik and Steiner all hit over .300 against plenty of tough opponents. Junior Jake Karczewski has seen time in the leadoff spot, and senior JR Walsh also could vie for time at leadoff.

On the mound, Luka is the top returner after earning five wins. Mallory and Rogers should figure prominently into the rotation and junior Seth Quick, last year’s top hurler for the sophomores, will see action as part of a deep staff.

Timothy Christian Trojans

Coach: Jim Snoyink

2016 record: 16-13

Top players


Jimmy Allen jr. SS/P

Josh Anderson sr. OF/P

Joey Davidson sr. 1B

Noah Marrera sr. C

Brian Schiff sr. 3B/P

Jonny Strube sr. OF/P

Shaun VanTholen sr. OF/IF/P

Outlook: Winners of a Class 2A regional title last season, the Trojans bring back six seniors and Allen to the mix, and so far they have picked up right where they left off. 

Marerra had seven RBIs through six games as of April 4, while Allen (.414 average last year) had scored 10 runs and knocked in five as Timothy got off to a 5-1 start.

Allen and the seniors will be mainstays in the lineup this year.

The pitching staff will include Allen, Anderson, Schiff, Strube and VanTholen plus junior Nick Huisman and sophomore Trent Marrera. Huisman won his first three starts of the year. In a season in which pitch counts will be monitored and prescribed rest required depending on the number of pitches thrown, expect to see more players take the hill as Timothy looks to surpass its 2016 success.

Willowbrook Warriors

Coach: Vic Wisner

2016 record: 18-17

Top players


Kyle Ferguson sr. 2B

Jon Kelso sr. OF

Alec Michaelson sr. P

MJ Ranieri sr. SS

Outlook: After lower-level and summer varsity success, the Warriors will look to put it all together at the top level this spring.

There are some question marks on the mound, but the lineup looks solid with seniors Ferguson (32 RBIs in 2016), Kelso (19 RBIs) and Ranieri back in the mix.

Senior outfielder Ben Espinoza flashed some power over the summer and looks to maintain that momentum.

In addition to Michaelson, seniors Will Hines and Scott Kohrt will figure into the staff. Sophomores Jack Hines, Ryan Mintz and Jack Nilles will add depth. 

So far, the growing pains have been minimal. The Warriors are 7-0 with quality wins against Naperville North, Glenbard South and Batavia on the ledger and have given up more than three runs just once.

York Dukes

Coach: Dave Kalal

2016 record: 19-15

Top players


Joe Chiapetta jr. OF/IF/P

Brendan Connell sr. IF

Austin Gelsomino sr. OF/P

Nick Lee sr. 1B/OF/P

Outlook: The Dukes lost their fair share of seniors to graduation, including Mike O’Malley and Frank Romano in the middle of the infield, Cam Fowler, Phil Schlitter and Marc Thieme in the outfield, and front-line pitchers Cole Miller, Joe Polowsky and Matt Riecker.

Depth on the mound should keep York competitive this spring. Chiapetta, Gelsomino and Lee figure to see their share of work, but pitching will be a teamwide endeavor. Gelsomino picked up the win in a 1-0 victory against Benet early in the season in a game in which senior Burke Corcoran started and junior Scott Tucker earned the save.

There is little experience returning in the batter’s box (Lee had close to 90 at-bats last year), but that hasn’t been a hindrance so far. Senior Mike Bernal, juniors Andrew Deardurff and Mike Pasutovic, and sophomores Ian Steinroth and Ryan Ross have joined Chiapetta and Lee in making key contributions this season.

York might need some breaks to contend for a West Suburban Silver title, but if the Dukes jell during the regular season they could be a tough out in the playoffs.

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