Baseball: GSSC season outlookBishop Noll's Kody Alayon fields a ground ball in the second inning Tuesday against Lake Central in St. John. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 23, 2012 8:59PM
Bishop Noll coach Paul Wirtz was forced to play a young lineup last season.
He hopes the payoff comes this year.
With only one lost starter (A.J. Cardenas), Noll has a stacked roster chock full of guys with meaningful experience during last year’s 17-12 season. Leading the way is senior shortstop Kody Alayon, who hit .447 with 35 RBI and 37 runs scored last year. And he’s got plenty of support in senior catcher Cody Moskovsky (.378, 29 RBI), sophomore outfielder Larry Crisler (.383), senior outfielder Danny Oseguera (.351) and junior Jon Frankovich (.301).
On the mound, senior Josh Galgan (3.25 ERA) and junior Danny Pobereyko (4-2) are back. Wirtz wants to see his players come through more often in pressure situations this season, but he likes the group he has.
“We are working hard to be playing through June,” he said.
Just about every player Lake Station lost was part of the pitching staff, so third-year coach Tony Hicks’ biggest concern is on the mound, where only Josh Dronen returns. Hicks will look to newcomers Tyler Ramirez, Mike Denisiuk and freshman Kody Lemley to pick up the slack.
“The goal is to see continual improvement, especially from our younger players,” Hicks said.
First-year coach Mike Carden takes over a North Newton program that lost its top two starters in Wes Pemberton and Mike Montemayer. Sophomores Brandon Popes and Austin Sartori will try to step into those roles, or as Carden put it, “will be counted on to log heavy innings for the next three years.”
Junior shortstop Chad Schultz and senior second baseman Brady Hallier provide the veteran leadership.
Like so many other coaches, River Forest’s Mark Zimmerle is looking for arms.
“We can go as far as our young pitching staff will take us,” he said.
That includes sophomore Chris Lauderback (3-2, 2.12 ERA) and junior Bryan Avalos. Seniors Jason Temple (.328, 19-of-19 in steal attempts) and Dexter Nalls (.288) lead the lineup.
Few teams could lose the likes of Sam O’Shea (.455, 6-2), Josh Holmes (.348) and Casey Nader (6-2) and expect to contend. But few teams were as stacked as Wheeler was last year.
“We return a strong core from our 18-win season last year,” third-year coach Josh Long said. “We are a senior-dominated team with a lot of offensive varsity experience.”
That includes second baseman David Bolla (50 RBI), outfielder Zach Snider (.390), pitcher Matt Ittersagen (4-3) and first baseman Nick Naspinski (.308). The key will be finding Ittersagen’s rotation-mates as the Bearcats try to replace O’Shea and Nader on the mound.
The novelty of Whiting’s beautiful Oil City Stadium is wearing off. But all eyes in the Greater South Shore Conference will still be on the little city by the lake, as the Oilers again will contend for the league crown.
Whiting had five players with on-base percentages higher than .400 last season — and four of them are back. While Elliott Bajda and his ridiculous .530 OBP has graduated, the Oilers bring back Gio Cruz, Justin Jendreas, Matt Dvorscak, Matt Bulatovich, and Coty Sparks.
The pitching also will be solid, with Sparks (2.65 ERA), Matt Lowe (0.74 ERA), and Dvorscak (33 strikeouts in 19 innings) all returning.