High school baseball: 2019 season team previews

Cary-Grove's Quinn Priester pitches against Crystal Lake South last spring.
Cary-Grove's Quinn Priester pitches against Crystal Lake South last spring.

Fox Valley Conference


Coach: Ryan Passaglia (first season)

Last year’s record: 18-11-1, 13-11 FVC (fifth place)

Top returning players: Quinn Priester, sr., P-DH; L.J. Waco, sr., IF; Jacob Duncan, sr., P-IF-OF

Top new players: Ben Taczy, sr., 1B; Josh Belgrave, sr., P; Drew Stengren, jr., C; Jack Thompson, jr., IF; Dymitri Kanellakis, jr., OF; Ryan Weaver, so., P-OF

Noteworthy: Passaglia takes over for Don Sutherland, who stepped down after 31 seasons as the Trojans’ coach. Passaglia played for Sutherland in the early 1990s and has been his assistant since 2008. … Priester, a 6-foot-3 right-hander, is projected to be selected in the first or second round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft in June. … “This team has a strong senior core and underclassmen eager to prove themselves,” Passaglia said. “I expect this group to make significant strides as the season progresses.”

Crystal Lake Central

Coach: Andy Deain (first season)

Last year’s record: 17-18, 9-14 FVC (tied for sixth place)

Top returning players: Reece Mensching, sr., P-IF; Alec Bolanowski, sr., C; Will Welder, sr., IF; Lucas Irwin, sr., IF-P; Jimmy Mills, sr., IF-P; Dean Malaka, sr., CF-P

Top new players: Justin Obaldo, jr., P-1B; Trey Desimone, jr., IF-P; Jake Rudolph, jr., C; Nicholas Angelokos, so., P.

Noteworthy: Mensching was an All-Area second-team pick last year, while Bolanowski was good behind the plate and one of the Tigers’ best hitters. … Deain, a former Prairie Ridge player and pitching coach. He takes over for retired Tom Mueller, who coached the Tigers for three seasons. … Deain expects big things from center fielder Dean Malaka after the offseason work he has put in. … Along with Mensching, Deain is looking at Obaldo, Angelokos and others to add to a solid staff.

Crystal Lake South

Coach: Brian Bogda (12th season)

Last year’s record: 12-17-1, 9-14 FVC (tied for sixth place)

Top returning players: Beiker Fuentes, sr., OF; Kyle Hetherington, sr., OF-P; Patrick Fischer, sr., 3B-LF; Evan Jewson, sr., C-1B; Nicholas Mannells, sr., OF; Michael Portuese, sr., OF; Henry Tipton, sr., IF; Nick Vollmert, sr., P; Joey Walsh, sr., P; Ray Wolski, sr., P; Jacob Bimbi, jr., OF-P

Top new players: Nick DiBenedetto, jr., 2B-P; Dominic Guzman, so., P; Alejandro Mendez, jr., P-IF; Ben Peltz, jr., C-1B-3B; Kyle Green, jr., C-3B; Ian Gorken, jr., OF-P; Nathan Schlaiss, jr., P

Noteworthy: Fuentes was slowed by a wrist injury last season and should be more of a force this season at the top of the lineup with his speed. … Hetherington hit .258 and led the team with three homers and was second with 18 RBIs.


Coach: Matt Mueller (third season)

Last year’s record: 7-27, 4-20 FVC (ninth place)

Top returning players: Nick Gregory, jr., OF-P; Justin Colon, so., OF; Justin Lawson, jr., SS; Evan Wenc, sr., IF; Joey Marczyk, sr,. IF-P; Nick Cuciarone, jr., IF-C; Riley Fischer, sr., P

Top new players: Alex Stiefel, so., P; Enrique Aramburo, jr., C; Evan Echlin, jr., IF-P; David Guzman, jr., IF-P

Noteworthy: The Chargers will be extremely young, but several of those youngsters got playing time last year. Gregory hit .358, led the team in runs (24) and was second in hits (38) as a sophomore. Colon played 13 games as a freshman and hit .385. Lawson started every game at shortstop and hit two homers with five doubles as a sophomore. … Mueller is looking to Gregory and Fischer to lead the rotation, while Stiefel also could be a key starter.


Coach: Frank Simoncelli (second season)

Last year’s record: 13-20, 5-19 FVC (eighth place)

Top returning players: Matt Jachec, sr., P-3B; Nick Sladek, sr., P-1B; Caden Pyszka, sr., 2B-P; Andrew Krajecki, CF-P, sr.; Thomas Ugalde, sr., LF-P; Logan Nespor, sr., 3B-P; Jonathan Mroz, sr., DH; Josh Sulejmani, sr., C; Anthony DiMarzio, sr., P-RF.

Top new players: Brady Young, so., P-SS-RF; Gavin Kriegel, jr., SS-RF; Kyle Miller, jr., LF-2B-P; Dylan Petrey, so.; P-C-Util.; Ben Benoit, so., P; Nathan Sparks, sr., LF-P.

Noteworthy: Jachec hit .355 and drove in a team-high 22 runs, and also will be the Whip-Purs’ ace on the mound. He struck out 51 in 43 innings and signed with NCAA Division I Indiana State, where he will pitch. … Simoncelli will look to Jachec, Nespor (who was hurt most of 2018), Sladek, Ugalde and DiMarzio as starters. … Krajecki gives the Whips good speed in center field.


Coach: Andy Jakubowski (14th season)

Last year’s record: 33-7, 19-5 FVC (champion, Class 4A state runner-up)

Top returning players: Hunter Rumachik, sr., P-1B; Aj Henkle, sr., OF; Eli Paplanus, sr., P; Michael Talesky, sr., OF; Zach Model, sr., 2B; Jason Peters, sr., 3B; Evan Tocmo, jr., SS-P; Kyle Maurer, sr., P; Dylan Janke, sr., C-P; Jackson Broom, sr., 3B-P; Davis Pasco, sr., OF-P; Josh Tarlin, sr., 1B.

Top new players: Massimo Mescino, sr., OF; Troy Hanson, sr., P-OF; Jimmy Fairley, jr., P-OF; James Sibert, jr., P-3B; Tommy Giese, jr., 1B-P; Christian Kasal, jr., P

Noteworthy: The Red Raiders graduated their top two starting pitchers, Nick Laxner and Kyle Morgan, along with shortstop Jordan Goldstein and catcher Kamrin Hoffman, from the Class 4A state runner-up team, but there is a lot of returning talent on a team that is a perennial FVC contender. … Rumachik (.311, 23 RBIs) and Henkle (.342, 26 RBIs) are the top returning RBI men, while Talesky (.364) hit leadoff most of last season. … Model and Peters return on the infield with Rumachik. … Paplanus was 5-1 with a 1.69 ERA and shut down Loyola for five-plus innings in the Raiders’ supersectional victory.


Coach: Jamie Murray (eighth season)

Last year’s record: 18-13-1, 14-10 (tied for third place)

Top returning players: Bryce Vincent, sr., 3B-C; Daniel Klein, sr., OF; Christian Scianna, sr., IF-OF; Anthony Wilson, sr., P; Adam Sonnefeldt, sr., P; Luke Holub, sr., 1B; Dom Tenayuca, sr., P; Bryan Belo, jr., SS; Andrew Balkcom, jr., P-OF

Top new players: Shayne McCullough, jr., P-OF; Mauricio Grosso, jr., Util.; Julian Alba, jr., OF-P; Jacob Middleton, jr., OF; Quinton Schwartz, so., P-3B

Noteworthy: Klein is a third-year varsity starter who hit .294, scored a team-high 26 runs and tied for the team lead in homers (three). … Balkcom had a solid sophomore year with a 2.47 ERA and a 2-1 record. … Murray is intrigued by Grosso, who moved in from Chile, and Middleton, a transfer from St. Edward.


Coach: Brian Rockweiler (13th season)

Last year’s record: 26-11, 17-6 FVC (second place)

Top returning players: Joe Kaminski, sr., 1B-P; Jake Evans, sr., OF-P; Nolan Shannon, jr., 3B; Carter Foat, jr., SS-P

Top new players: Brett Loeding, jr., P; Tyler Fees, jr., P; Jaedin Kotecki, so., P-C; Trevor Rockweiler, so., P-C

Noteworthy: Kaminski (7-3, 0.82 ERA) was the ace on a good staff last season. He also hit .327 and drove in 24 runs. … Evans was another solid run producer with a .314 average and 21 RBIs. … Shannon and Foat got a lot of experience as sophomores playing second base and shortstop, and Shannon drove in 17 runs. … “We have one of the best pitchers in the state in Joe Kaminski,” Brian Rockweiler said. “We have a lot of innings to replace due to graduation, but we have some capable guys ready to take over those roles.”

Prairie Ridge

Coach: Glen Pecoraro (19th season)

Last year’s record: 21-14, 14-9 (tied for third place)

Top returning players: Ben Harris, sr., 1B-P; Alex Powers, sr., C; Michael Patterson, sr., SS-P; Dom Listi, sr., OF-P; Brennan Kelly, sr., OF-P; Jacob Reichert, sr., IF; Luke Fiantago, sr., 3B; Jerad Marrs, sr., R-OF

Top new players: Holden Phelps, jr., P; Ryan Goudschaal, jr., P-3B

Noteworthy: Pecoraro thinks his pitching staff, led by Harris and Patterson, will be deep. Harris and Phelps both have hit 90 mph on speed guns. … Patterson has started two seasons at shortstop but has not pitched a lot because of injuries. … Harris (.404, 31 RBIs), Powers (.327, 24 RBIs) and Listi (.361, 22 RBIs) lead an offense that should be potent. … Prairie Ridge lost to Antioch, 8-7, in the Class 3A Lake View Sectional title game.

Kishwaukee River Conference


Coach: Adam Ulen (first season)

Last year’s record: 10-18, 4-10 KRC (seventh place)

Top returning players: Blake Bischke, sr., 2B; Andrew Cooke, sr., SS-P; Jagur Streit, jr., C-SS-P; Hunter Gratz, jr., SS-P

Top new players: Chase Bischke, so., OF-3B-P; Omar Garcia, so., OF-SS; Nolan Frenk, so., SS-1B-P; Dylan Perkins, so., OF-C-P; Jacob Stanley, so.; 1B-P-OF

Noteworthy: The Hornets will have a few senior leaders but are young for the most part. Ulen likes the baseball IQ many of the sophomore players bring to the team.


Coach: Sam Lesniak (seventh season)

Last year’s record: 14-12, 9-8 KRC (third place)

Top returning players: Ryan Linkletter, sr., P-1B; Matt Harris, sr., P-IF; Zach Toussaint, sr., SS-P; Augie Lichtenstein, sr., LF-P

Top new players: Josh Notriano, so., CF-P; Max Kegel, jr., 3B; Casey Burnopp, jr., 2B; Tyler Malueg, jr., C

Noteworthy: Linkletter is a fourth-year starter who was 3-4 as a pitcher, with a 3.33 ERA last season. Harris threw 24 innings and had a 3.21 ERA. … “We have some talented young guys that could have a nice season,” Lesniak said.


Coach: Josh Maas (eighth season)

Last year’s record: 8-17, 5-11 KRC (fifth place)

Top returning players: Danny Schenk, sr., SS; Derek Peters, sr., P-2B; Josh Streu, sr., P-1B; Nick Wascher, sr., P-OF; Ryan Wilwers, sr., P-3B; Aiden Smith, jr., P-IF

Top new players: Kyle Klensek, so., P; Landon Oine, so., C

Noteworthy: The Indians graduated catcher Jake LaSota, a four-year varsity starter and their best player, but they return most of the rest of their lineup. … The entire pitching staff is back, and seven starters also return, including Smith, who hit No. 3 and was the No. 1 starter on the mound. … Schenk (SS), Peters (2B) and Wascher (CF) should provide good defense up the middle. … “We’re hoping last season can be used as a learning experience to help this year’s squad take a step forward,” Maas said.


Coach: Mike Giese (14th season)

Last year’s record: 19-11, 15-3 KRC (champion)

Top returning players: Dalton Wood, jr., SS-P; Luke Uhwat, sr., P-OF; Connor Donohoe, sr., P; Chase Duncan, sr., IF; Tyler Anderson, jr., 1B-OF-P; Clayton Jayrocki, sr., OF

Top new players: Hayden Christiansen, fr., C-IF; Nick Ross, jr., P

Noteworthy: Wood had a terrific sophomore season at shortstop and hit a team-high .413 with 19 RBIs. Uhwat was 5-2 with a 1.98 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 562/3 innings. Both were Northwest Herald All-Area second-team selections. … Giese likes the pitching again, with Uhwat as the ace, and thinks the Rockets can defend their title if they play tight defense.


Coach: Matt Prill (third season)

Last year’s record: 8-17, 7-10 KRC (fourth place)

Top returning players: Evan Geske, sr., SS; Jacob Waryck, sr., IF-P; Evan Bridges, sr., IF-P; Logan List, sr., OF-P; Tyler Waterson, jr., C

Top new players: Garrett Swan, sr., IF-P; Nick Weber, jr., P

Noteworthy: Geske led the Blue Streaks in hitting (.422), while Waryck (.313, 19 RBIs) and List (.314, 16) drove in the most runs. Geske and Waryck have played varsity since their freshman season. … Prill hopes that kind of experience can help make the Streaks a contender in the KRC.

Woodstock North

Coach: John Oslovich (fourth season)

Last year’s record: 9-19-1, 5-11 KRC (sixth place)

Top returning players: Jacob Laha, sr., 3B-P; Kyle Knauss, sr., P-1B; Aaron Montgomery, jr., C; Brayden Klesch, jr., SS; Felipe DeAvila, so., P-IF

Top new players: Mason Carlisle, jr., OF-P; Bryce Nolan, jr., OF-P; Dustin Herrmann, jr., 3B-P; Alex Dodge, so., P-2B

Noteworthy: North lost two senior pitchers to injuries from the fall season, so some new players will have to step into important roles. … Montgomery is a two-year starter at catcher, so the Thunder will benefit from his experience. Having Klesch and DeAvila, who started up the middle last season in every game, should be a big benefit.

East Suburban Catholic Conference

Marian Central

Coach: Tom Kruse (fifth season)

Last year’s record: 9-23, 1-17 (10th place)

Top returning players: Joey Fitzgerald, sr., OF-P; Ben Strang, sr., P-IF; Jack Bubala, sr., P-Util.; Alex Eschenbacher, jr., P-Util.; Sam Lavin, jr., P-IF; Justin Rhode, jr., P-IF

Top new players: Ben Minneci, jr., P-OF; Brendan Duffy, jr., P-OF; Michael Aragon, jr., C; Mason Hege, jr., IF; Mason Schwalbach, so., C-IF

Noteworthy: Kruse thinks his team could be deeper this season with considerable talent from the junior class. The Hurricanes will need it in the rugged East Suburban Catholic Conference. … Kruse sees some left-handed hitters in Marian’s lineup providing some pop for the offense.

Northeastern Athletic Conference


Coach: Brian Englebrecht (ninth season)

Last year’s record: 12-14-1

Top returning players: Brad Judson, sr., P-SS-1B; Kyle Judson, sr., C-P-IF; Tommy McCallion, sr., OF-P; Mike Ellison, jr., SS-2B-P; Logan Bohl, jr., 2B-OF-P; Cody Kurcab, so., 1B-OF-P

Top new players: Paul Hartman, jr., P-1B-OF; T.J. Pauley, so., P-C-IF-OF; Thomas Webber, fr., 3B-P-C; Tyler Cunningham, fr., C-P-3B-1B; Ben Gadini, fr., 2B-OF

Noteworthy: The Judson twins were All-Northeastern Athletic Conference picks last season. Brad is the Giants’ top pitcher and will play football and baseball at NCAA Division III Rockford University. Kyle gives A-H experience behind the plate and a solid bat in the lineup. … McCallion is another core member of the team. … A-H co-ops with Faith Lutheran in Crystal Lake for baseball.

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