Prep baseball: 5 things that defined the 2024 season

Sycamore catcher Kyle Hartmann visits the mound to talk to pitcher Tyler Townsend during their Class 3A sectional final game against Burlington Central Friday, May 31, 2024, at the Sycamore Community Sports Complex.

Sycamore did what has become custom. DeKalb did something it hadn’t done in a long time.

And plenty of players put up eye-popping numbers by ripping the cover off of the baseball.

With the 2024 baseball season over locally, we look at some of the things that defined the season.

Sycamore returns to supersectional round for a 3rd straight year

The Spartans lost a lot of players from the team that took third place in the Class 3A State Tournament in 2023. As the season progressed and as they won 17 of their first 18 games, coach Jason Cavanaugh said he wasn’t sure what type of team the Spartans were.

While they started early as a big-slugging team that could put up runs quickly, the Spartans became more of a pitching-focused team as the season wore on.

Pitchers Matt Rosado and Tyler Townsend led the Spartans in the postseason as Sycamore made a supersectional game for the third straight season, losing to Morris with Rosado on the bump. The senior finished 7-3 with a 2.91 ERA, walking 11 and striking out 63 in 65 innings. In 34 innings, including two playoff starts, Townsend was 1-1 with a 1.44 ERA with 36 strikeouts and 13 walks.

And while the bats cooled off later in the season, Kyle Prebil still had six home runs, and Davis Collie added three.

DeKalb gets playoff win for first time since 2018

When the Barbs knocked off Rockford East 13-3, it was their first playoff win since a 5-2 win against Hononegah six years ago.

The team’s 22-13 record matched the win total of the past three years combined, was the first winning record since 2015 and the most wins since a 22-14 mark in 2011, according to the IHSA website and online records.

Junior Jackson Kees was a huge part of the team’s success for the young Barbs. He hit .387 and drove in 31 runs while stealing eight bases. He also was 6-4 with a 2.43 ERA, striking out 78 and walking 23 in 57⅔ innings.

Sophomore Cole Latimer also provided some power, hitting four home runs and driving in 31 runs while scoring 34 times. He provided a solid glove in center, with two errors all season and two outfield assists.

It wasn’t just Latimer and Kees. Most of the starters for DeKalb this year were sophomores or juniors. Like coach Josh Latimer said after the Barbs season ended against Huntley in a regional final, don’t sleep on DeKalb.

Parker Violett powers Kaneland

It wasn’t exactly the season the Knights are accustomed to, bowing out in a regional semifinal and needing a play-in game to get there. But they did reach 20 wins, and they did have a monster showing from Violett.

The senior outfielder hit .394 with an OPS of 1.200. He led the team with three home runs, scored 35 times, drove in 36 runs and even hit three triples and stole three bases.

Martin Ledbetter continues crushing the ball for Hinckley-Big Rock

Construction at Indian Creek caused the fences to be pushed in closer than normal. It didn’t really matter to Ledbetter in his game there, as he hit a ball into the parking lot, far beyond the fence.

Later in that game, he was intentionally walked, which happened a lot. This one came with the bases loaded, which coach Matt Olsen said has happened almost a dozen times.

It was that kind of junior season for Ledbetter, who for the third year in a row mashed the ball at a crazy rate for the Royals while also overpowering hitters when he pitched. And although the Royals lost their last four games to finish 14-11, he had at least one hit in each of those games, including a home run. He had nine homers on the season, hit .492 and had an OPS of 1.774.

2 seniors shine for Indian Creek

It was a down year for the Timberwolves, who went 4-19 and gave up at least 10 runs in each of their losses. But their offense kept them in games, and Jeffrey Probst and Jakob McNally were a big part of that.

McNally had an OPS of 1.179, hit .443 and blasted three home runs while driving in 12 and scoring 25 runs. Probst hit .418, had a 1.290 OPS, hit five home runs and had 21 runs scored and 21 RBIs.

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