Coach: Joshua Latimer
Last season: 6-24, 2-13 (Lost to Harlem in Class 4A regional semifinal)
Top returners: Maddux Clarence, jr., P/3B/1B; Paul Kakoliris, so., OF; Jackson Kees, so., SS/P; Josh Klemm, sr., P; Nate Nunez, sr., C/IF; Alex Prince, jr., P/1B; Carson Smith, sr., P
Key newcomers: Isaac Black, so., 3B/P; Cole Latimer, fr., OF/3B/P; Nik Nelson, so., MIF/P
Worth noting: The Barbs will be young, but they’re going to have fun and push each other toward success. “This team gets it,” Latimer said. “When they ‘trust our process’ and learn to win they will be extremely dangerous.” Latimer calls this team a “true baseball family” that’s constructed of a group of young men who “want more” and “want to win.”
Coach: Jason Cavanaugh
Last season: 28-7, 12-2 (Lost to Washington in 3A supersectional)
Top returners: Jimmy Amptmann, sr., P/DH; Hunter Britz, sr., 2B/C; Owen Piazza, sr., P/3B; Joey Puleo, sr., RF/P; Kiefer Tarnoki, sr., CF; Tommy Townsend, sr., 1B/P; Conner Williar, sr., LF/P
Key newcomers: Teague Hallahan, jr., P; Kyle Hartmann, jr., C; Matt Rosado, jr., IF/P; Collin Severson, jr., OF
Worth noting: The talent and experience are there for Sycamore to have another good season after advancing to a supersectional for the third time in nine seasons last spring. In addition to having seven starters returning, the Spartans have some prized new players, including D1 talent behind the dish in Hartmann, the hard-throwing Hallahan, a dual-threat hurler and bat in the middle of the lineup with Rosado and another bat and option in the outfield from Severson. Townsend (.434 avg., nine HR, 40 RBIs; seven saves, 0.61 ERA, 34Ks in 23 IP), Piazza (.388, five HR, 33 runs, 28 RBI) and Tarnoki (.448 avg.) highlight a strong senior class.
Coach: Brian Aversa
Last season: 24-9, 10-4 (Lost to Sycamore in 3A sectional final)
Top returners: Anthony Campise, jr., OF; Patrick Collins, sr., C/1B; Gabe Gooch, sr., 1B/P; Collin Miller, sr., 3B/P; Alex Panico, sr., OF; Johnny Spallasso, sr., SS/P; Parker Violett, jr., OF/1B/P; Luke Wituk, sr., P
Key newcomers: Matthew Brunscheen, jr., INF/P; Zach Konrad, jr., C/INF/DH; Jackson Kottmeyer, jr., P
Worth noting: The Knights lost some key contributors from last season but still return a majority of their starters, including at least five players who will toe the rubber. “We have a lot of experience coming back and players that are battle tested and have taken the next step toward their preparation in achieving their goals,” Aversa said. Another difficult nonconference schedule looms for the Knights, which ultimately will prepare them for conference and the postseason.
Coach: Matt Olsen
Last season: 12-11, 8-8 (Lost to Indian Creek in 1A regional quarterfinal)
Top returners: Saje Beane, jr., 3B; Ben Hintzsche, sr., P/SS/OF; Martin Ledbetter, so., C/P/1B/3B
Key newcomers: Skylar Janeski, fr., SS/2B/P/OF; Jacob Orin, fr., C/2B/P/OF
Worth noting: Despite graduating five important players from last year’s roster, Olsen feels his team has made enough improvements to have a shot of competing for a conference title. “The group we have this year possess more positional versatility, along with young pitching,” he said. “Although we are young, we do have a high baseball IQ as a team. We are excited for our opportunities to compete in the coming weeks and continue to get better each and every day.”
Coach: Kevin Poterek
Last season: 11-14, 9-7 (Lost to Putnam County in 1A regional semifinal)
Top returners: Sam Genslinger, sr., P/INF; Blake McRoberts, sr., P/1B; Jeffrey Probst, jr., OF/P
Key newcomers: Tyler Bogle, so., INF; Jacob Coulter, so., OF/P
Worth noting: Kishwaukee commits Sam Genslinger and outfielder Drake Mickler return along with dual threats Blake McRoberts and Jeffrey Probst to lead the Timberwolves. Last year was a learning experience for the program in a season filled with ups and downs. “We are looking to pick up where we left off last year with solid defense and the young pitching stepping up in big moments,” Poterek said. “I am looking for the pitching staff to put us in position to win games this year and hold close leads.” If they can do that, they could battle for a conference title.
Coach: Anson Ellis
Last season: 7-18, 5-13 (Lost to Johnsburg in 2A regional quarterfinal)
Top returners: Nolan Perry, sr., P/IF; Colton Hinds, sr., P/IF; Justyn Ferrara, sr., IF/OF; Connor Grimm, sr., OF; Ethan Wilnau, sr., OF
Key newcomers: Brody Engel, sr., OF; John Krueger, jr., P/INF; Nate Kleba, soph., P/INF
Worth noting: While the Cogs return plenty of pop with Perry, Wilnau, Ferrara and Grimm, the pitching staff will have to step up and replace two pitchers who accumulated a lot of innings last season. Hinds and Max Lavender pitched well in stretches last year but will be in much larger rolls this season.
Coach: Sam Gallucci
Last year’s record: 8-12, 7-9 (Lost to Alden-Hebron in 1A regional quarterfinal)
Worth noting: Gallucci did not respond to messages seeking comment.