Following a standout season on the bump, Crystal Lake South senior Mark DeCicco drew the starting assignment in the Class 3A state tournament semifinals at Joliet’s Duly Health & Care Field on Friday.
The Gators were one of two Fox Valley Conference teams still playing on the last weekend of the season, with South placing fourth in 3A and McHenry taking fourth in 4A.
Getting to state was just as thrilling, with DeCicco firing five-plus innings with five strikeouts and knocking in three runs in a 5-2 victory over top-seeded St. Viator in the Grayslake Central Sectional championship game.
South then knocked off Fenwick, 8-6, in a rain-shortened six innings to return to the state semifinals for the first time since 2017.
DeCicco, who will play next year at McHenry County College, was voted Northwest Herald Athlete of the Week by readers. The senior answered a few questions about playing at the state tournament, his favorite memory from the season, his perfect meal and more.
What was it like playing in the Class 3A state tournament?
DeCicco: Playing at the state tournament was an unreal experience. It was awesome being able to play on such a big stage in front of so many people that supported our team. Regardless of the outcome, it was still a great time.
What was your favorite memory from this season?
DeCicco: My favorite memory would have to be beating Viator in the sectional championship after our history over the past two seasons with them. It was great having my coach’s trust to start that game. I loved looking into the stands throughout the game and seeing past teammates, family, friends and people from the community supporting us, too.
What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on a baseball field?
DeCicco: The most embarrassing thing had to be striking out on a changeup and swinging so hard I ended up on one knee from it. It was something I hated at the time, but it’s funny to look back on.
What is your dream vehicle?
DeCicco: My dream vehicle is probably some type of Audi.
What would be your walk-up song?
DeCicco: My walk-up song was “Public Service Announcement” by Jay-Z, and I would probably keep using it.
What is your favorite park in the Fox Valley Conference?
DeCicco: My favorite place to play at was home at Crystal Lake South. I think it is the best-kept field because of how much work coach [Brian] Bogda puts into it and how much he has us do postgame for it to keep looking good.
What are three of your favorite sports movies?
DeCicco: My favorite sports movies are “42,” “Sandlot” and “Moneyball.”
What superhero power would you like to have?
DeCicco: I would love to be able to teleport.
What is your perfect meal?
DeCicco: My perfect meal is probably a medium-rare steak, mashed potatoes and corn.
You get to have dinner and talk baseball with three major league players. Who are you picking?
DeCicco: I would love to talk to Barry Bonds, Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani.
Who is your favorite professional team and athlete?
DeCicco: My favorite team is the Chicago Cubs, and my favorite player is probably Mike Trout.