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Baseball

High school baseball: Westmont's Donovan goes out as record-breaker

Numbers add up to stellar career for Player of the Year Joe Donovan

WESTMONT – Three numbers partially define Joe Donovan's four seasons in a Westmont High School baseball uniform.

There is the No. 9 jersey he wore as a freshman and sophomore on varsity, a switch from the No. 4 he wore as a youth player.

Then there is the number 47, the number of program records he earned after an unparalleled career for the Sentinels.

Yet perhaps the most meaningful number to Donovan himself is the No. 0 jersey he wore the past two seasons as a way to remember older brother Charlie Donovan, who died in November 2015.

The two trained together, played catch together and were teammates for two seasons at Westmont. Wearing No. 0 for the past two seasons was as much of a highlight as re-writing the Westmont record books.

"After he graduated I asked him if I could keeping wearing No. 0 and he said without a doubt. He viewed it as passing on a legacy," Donovan said. "It's not something that was in honor of him. He passed it on to me and it was a privilege to wear it.

"It was really special to me."

That No. 0 jersey hangs in a special place in his room, right alongside his Jonathan Toews, Aaron Rodgers and 1980 USA Hockey jerseys.

Donning the No. 0 jersey was special to Donovan. On the other side of the coin, he was a truly special player for Westmont and head coach DJ Cocks.

In addition to being nothing short of a game changer at the plate (evidenced by his .523 batting average, 16 home runs and 49 RBIs this season), he was the linchpin of the defense as a catcher. During games, Cocks would call out defensive alignments for his players from time to time. Donovan was doing so nearly every at-bat, leading the way by reminding his teammates which base to throw to or who had which defensive responsibilities based on the situation.

"Catcher is definitely far and away my favorite position," Donovan said. "The leadership role I grew into just by being a catcher because that position is such a big one on the team."

So he was dangerous with the bat, impactful with his glove and lethal all around because of his vast intangibles.

"The desire and the work ethic and the leadership, the way he hustled, his desire to put this school on the map and just the way he plays, that's somebody for my son, who's eight years old, to look up to," Cocks said.

Donovan, who will continue his career at the University of Michigan after leaving Westmont as the all-time leader in program wins, more or less did it all for the Sentinels. The one thing he never did was put himself before the team because of his stature as a Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association all-state player and Collegiate Baseball Newspaper first-team all-American.

"He doesn't big league these guys and think he's above them. These are the guys he grew up with and he loves these guys," Cocks said. "He's not a guy who puts himself above anyone, he's always about the team."

There were a few more numbers added to Donovan's resume to join 0, 9 and 47 after the season, which ended for Westmont in a 6-5 loss against IC Catholic in a Class 2A regional championship game in which he hit two home runs. Donovan was taken in the 33rd round, selection 1,005 overall, by the Chicago Cubs in the MLB draft.

In an equation that might stump elite mathematicians from around the world, when the numbers 0, 9, 47, 33 and 1,005 are added together the result is a singular numeral that perfectly represents Donovan's time in a Westmont uniform.

"Blessed, that's the No. 1 word I can say and that pretty much summarizes everything. We're blessed to have him," Cocks said. "He's everything you want in a ballplayer, and that's a once-in-a-lifetime thing." 

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All-area team

Benet: Tyler Bautista, sr.; Marty Dosen, sr.;

Downers Grove North: Trey Romay, sr.; Tyler Rosen, sr.

Downers Grove South: Michael Greco, sr.; Nick Stacey, jr.

Fenwick: Anthony Cavalieri, sr.; Casey O'Laughlin, sr.

Glenbard East: Jacob Behrendt, sr.; Nathan Bertuca, sr.

Glenbard South: Christian Dupuis sr.; Kyle Zygadto, sr.

Glenbard West: Sam Kaske, sr.; Kevin Spencer, sr.

Hinsdale Central: Travis Pelton, sr.; Andrew Zapka, sr.

Hinsdale South: Jaxon Herchenbach, sr.

IC Catholic: Paul Morris III, sr.; Austin Reed, sr.

Lemont: Nate Madej, sr.; KC Simonich, sr.; Ryan Sublette, sr.

Lisle: Grant Haen, sr.; Max Sokolowski, sr.

Lyons Township: Grant Leader, soph.; Matt Piento, jr.; Brendan Pugliese, sr.

Montini: Jake Karczewski, jr.; Alex Luka, sr.

Morton: Fernando Adame, sr.; Ruben Torres, sr.

Nazareth: Dominic Milano, jr.; AJ Rouse, sr.

Riverside Brookfield: Ryan Cermak, soph.; Kyle Fitzgerald, sr.

St. Francis: Nick Kosmetatos, soph.

Timothy Christian: Jimmy Allen, jr.; Brian Schiff, sr.

Westmont: Joe Donovan, sr.; Michael Kokoszka, jr.

Wheaton Academy: Jake Koslosky, jr.; Payton Sowa, jr.

Wheaton North: Jackson Gray, jr.; Erik Mueller, sr.

Wheaton Warrenville South: Caleb Larsen, jr.; Griffen Pschigoda, sr.

Willowbrook: Jon Kelso, sr.; Alec Michaelson, sr.; MJ Ranieri, sr.

York: Mike Bernal, sr.; Nicholas Lee, sr.

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