Baseball: Record Newspapers 2024 season preview capsules

Yorkville's Simon Skroch (16) delivers a pitch against Marmion during a baseball game at Marmion High School in Aurora on Tuesday, Mar 28, 2023.

The high school baseball season starts this week. Here are previews of teams from around the Record Newspapers coverage area.


Coach: Josh Cooper

Last season’s record: 10-20 overall, 7-7 Little Ten Conference.

Top returning players: Clay Friestad, sr. P/IF; Landon Begovac, jr. P/IF; Jackson Walker, jr., UT ; Payton Wills jr. P/IF

Top new players: Toby Steffen, so., UT ; David Ulrich, fr., UT ; Kiptyn Bleuer, fr., P/OF.

Worth noting: The Norsemen graduated seven seniors, notably ace pitcher Joe Martin, now at SIU-Edwardsville. Leading the core group back are Friestad and Beovac, who both hit over .275 last season at the plate and also made appearances on the mound. What the Norsemen lack in experience they hope to make up for in what Cooper considers exciting young talent. Steffen, Ulrich and Bleuer are all expected to make major impacts on the Newark varsity team this year.

“This young Norsemen ball club will show some spurts of inexperience but will be an exciting team to watch when they start clicking,” Cooper said.


Coach: Joe Giarrante

Last season: 26-12 overall, 12-3 Southwest Prairie Conference (first place), lost to Oswego East in sectional final.

Top returning players: Noah Mottet, sr., P; Drake Dunnett, sr., C; Nick Tickle, sr., P; Ben Hernandez, sr., 1B; Hayden Bowman, sr., P; Brogan Mello, jr., P.

Top new players: Dylan King, jr., 1B; Kam Jenkins, so., SS; Easton Ruby, jr., C.

Worth noting: Oswego has made back-to-back sectional final appearances, and won conference championships in two of the last three seasons. This group of Panthers is a very young positional team with a lot of young depth. Mottet, an all-conference pitcher who posted a 6-0 record with a 0.995 ERA over 39 innings and was the winning pitcher in Oswego’s regional championship game, and also started Oswego’s sectional semifinal win, anchors a senior-laden pitching staff that Giarrante hopes will help them compete at a high level and defend a conference title. Dunnett, committed to Waubonsee Community College, and Hernandez are returning starters in the Oswego lineup. Bowman is committed to Wisconsin-Parkside, Tickle to College of DuPage.

Oswego East

Coach: Brian Schaeffer

Last season: 24-12 overall, 9-6 Southwest Prairie Conference (second place), lost to Edwardsville in supersectional.

Top returning players: Jackson Petsche, sr., 1B/P; Andy Lewis, sr., IF; Logan South, sr., IF/C; Bode Bregar, sr., P; Christian Martyn, sr., IF/C/P; Aidan Aguilera, sr., P; Austin Caracci, sr., P; Will Bass, sr., OF; Allen Chorba, sr., P.

Top new players: Colin Sadauskas, jr., OF; Dominic Battista, so., OF; Ernest Williams, jr., IF/P; Derek Kubek, jr., IF/C; Devin Wheaton, so., IF/P; Niko Villacci, so., IF/P; Dylan Caracci, sr., P; Mason Palermo, jr., C; Wilson Terrutty, jr., OF/P.

Worth noting: Oswego East is coming off a season that ended with the program’s first-ever sectional championship, an extra-inning win over Oswego in the sectional final. Loras recruit Bregar, who was strong in relief in the Wolves’ supersectional loss, is an experienced arm back to lead the pitching staff that graduated Record Newspapers Player of the Year Griffin Sleyko. Petsche, a Southeastern Community College commit, and Lewis were starters throughout the season last year. Also back is South, committed to LakeLand, Aurora University commit Martyn, Morton College commit Aguilera, Calvin recruit Caracci and Olney Central College commit Chorba.

“Realistically, I think we will be middle of the pack in the SPC West. If we can stay healthy and our pitching steps up, we can compete in every game throughout our season and can compete for an SPC title,” Schaeffer said. “Our youth will play a role in our success this year as well as we will be young in many positions and will need to compete to help elevate our game. The seniors, however, are very driven to repeat the late season success we had last year and look to push our younger players to compete at the highest levels.”


Coach: Nate Hill

Last season’s record: 6-27 overall, 2-12 Interstate 8 Conference.

Top returning players: Kaden Aguirre, sr., P/OF; Jason Phillips, so., 3B/P; Rylan Aguirre, sr., 1B/P; Jake Decker, sr., OF; Nick Serio, sr., SS; Josh Stellwagen, jr., OF/P; Matt Bruell, sr., P/IF.

Worth noting: Plano has 15 of its 16 players returning to the varsity roster. Kaden Aguirre, who plans to play collegiately at Wisconsin-Platteville, is a returning all-conference pitcher who posted a 3-7 record with a 4.65 ERA and 57 strikeouts over 52 2/3 innings last season Rylan Aguirre, who hit .326 with 20 RBIs last year and plans to play collegiately at Wisconsin-Oshkosh, and Phillips, who hit a team-best .333 with 16 runs scored and 16 RBIs as a freshman, were honorable mention all-conference. Serio, who hit .316 with 14 RBIs last year, plans to play at Concordia Wisconsin. Aguirre, Serio, Decker and Jake Klatt all enter their third season as varsity starters.

“We have a very positive outlook for this season as we return all players including all of our starters from last year’s team,” Hill said. “For many of our seniors, this will be their third year at the varsity level and we are hopeful that all of their experience will pay off as we strive to advance our level of play and compete on a daily basis. Our guys are ready for a new challenge in our first year of play in the Kishwaukee River Conference and are focused on coming together to play winning baseball.”


Coach: Jason VanPelt

Last season’s record: 9-18, 2-12, lost to Wheaton Academy in regional championship game.

Top returning players: Tyler Lissman, sr., CF/P; Chance Lange, sr., SS/P; Taylor Adams, sr., C/P; Chris Barbor, sr., P/IF/OF; Dino Barbanente, sr., P/IF/OF; Quinton Rome, jr., P/IF/OF; Braden Behringer, so., C.

Top new players: Lucas Krystozek, sr., P/IF/OF; Dominic Rome, jr., P/IF/OF.

Worth noting: Sandwich returns seven starters from last year’s team that reached the regional final. Of that group, six are either three or four-year varsity starters. The Indians return virtually their entire pitching staff, with only one that graduated. “We look to be very competitive in our first year in the Kishwaukee River Conference,” VanPelt said.


Coach: Tom Cerven.

Last season’s record: 15-18 overall, 7-8 in Southwest Prairie Conference, lost to Hinsdale Central in regional semifinal.

Returning starters: Simon Skroch, sr., P; Nate Harris, sr., OF/P; Kam Yearsley, sr., P/OF; Michael Dopart, sr., IF; Jackson Roberts, sr., IF; Sebastian Westphal, sr., IF/OF; Daniel Rodriguez, sr., IF.

Other returners: Joe Onasch, sr., C; Brenden Mack, sr., P; Carter Schaffner, jr., P.

Top newcomer: Jailen Veliz, so., IF.

Worth noting: The Foxes return nearly all of their starters from a year ago, including a deep and talented pitching staff. Skroch, a Minnesota recruit and fourth-year varsity player, anchors that group. The Yorkville left-hander posted a 6-4 record and one save with a 1.94 ERA and 95 strikeouts over 54 innings last year. Kentucky commit Harris batted .379 with a 1.182 OPS and 36 hits, of them 11 doubles, two triples and five homers, with 36 runs scored and 14 RBIs. On the mound he posted a 2-5 record with a 3.95 ERA and 48 strikeouts over 28 1/3 innings. Sweet-swinging lefty Yearsley, committed to John A. Logan College, hit 526 with 1.437 OPS, 38 RBIs and 33 runs scored. On the mound he went 2-0 and had two saves with a 2.50 ERA and 22 strikeouts over 14 innings. Dopart hit .356 with six doubles and 18 RBIs.

“Our achilles heel last year was scoring runs consistently. Early indications are that we have improved some this year and should have a chance to win most games,” Cerven said. “While we are optimistic that we will stack up well in conference play, the SPC is always a challenging baseball conference. The West in particular looks to be as competitive as it has been in a while.”

Yorkville Christian

Coach: Sean Bieterman.

Last season’s record: 13-11, lost in regional semifinals to St. Bede.

Top returning players: Nolan Hooper, jr., P/IF; Jess Seaton, sr., C; Brody Davis, jr., IF; Reese Seng, jr., IF; Austin Vugteveen, so., IF;

Top new players: Danny Paige, jr., P/IF; Ben Raddatz, jr., OF.

Worth noting: The Mustangs return seven starters. Leading the way is Hooper, rated one of the top juniors pitchers in the state who has touched 89 mph. Seaton hit .462 as a junior and Davis hit .324 as a junior.