Last season's records in parentheses
CALUMET COLLEGE (6-40)
Players to watch: Jonathan Cap, Sr., P; Jonathan Cardenas, Sr., 3B; Francisco Johnson, Sr., C.
Outlook: Last season was rough for the Crimson Wave, as the team was unable to string together much offense. Cardenas and Johnson will be counted on for their bats and leadership, while Cap will serve as the team's ace this season.
Quote: “The expectations are to continue to get better every day. We plan to make a big improvement from last season and make the playoffs.” —coach Brian Nowakowski
PRAIRIE STATE (40-13)
Players to watch: Bobby Shepard, Fr., IF; Joe Sadowski So., 3B; Taran Temple, Fr., C; Sam Cook, So., P (4-2, 2.44 ERA, 35 SO); Eddie Nelson, So., P (4-0, 3.48 ERA, 33 SO).
Outlook: Prairie State lost one of its best players in T.F. South grad Bobby Colantuono due to a family issue, and have re-evaluated expectations. The Panthers hope to win anywhere between 35 and 45 games and compete for a Region IV championship. Cook and Nelson should be strong off the mound all season long for Prairie State.
Quote: “We're going to have a lot more depth. We're two deep at almost every position.” — coach Bill Storrs Jr.
PURDUE NORTH CENTRAL (29-30)
Players to watch: Ched Gaskin, Sr., C (.412 AVG, 8 HR, 73 RBI); Colin Willis, Jr., CF (.441 AVG, 2 HR, 37 RBI); Kevin Gates, Jr., 3B (.305 AVG, 2 HR, 20 RBI); Brad DuBois, Sr., 2B/SS (.318 AVG, 25 RBI); Eddie Moldenhauer, So., 2B/SS (.299 AVG, 22 RBI); Greg Toliver, Sr., 1B (.248 AVG, 2 HR, 26 RBI); Jordan Polito, So., P (4-2, 4.36 ERA, 33 SO); Dan Snyder, So., P (3-4, 5.93 ERA, 26 SO)
Outlook: A wealth of good hitting returns for the Panthers, who finished one game above .500. They'll look to improve upon that mark with the likes of Gaskin and Willis' reliable bats. PNC will only play 12 home games this season, so the Panthers will have a difficult schedule all season.
Quote: “We have a strong, balanced lineup top to bottom, excellent defense and significant depth, but we need our young pitchers to mature quickly if we want to take the next step in our program.” — coach John Weber
SOUTH SUBURBAN (35-24)
Players to watch: Ryan Eger, So., OF (.274 AVG, 1 HR, 20 RBI); Brandon Collins, So., 1B/OF; Micah Rooke, So., 2B; Kevin Hallberg, So., P (7-1, 2.47 ERA, 45 SO); Tyler Sindewald, So., C/OF (.331 AVG, 22 RBI).
Outlook: The Bulldogs won the Region IV Championship last season, so expectations are to repeat that feat this season. There are only two position players that started last season, and Bishop Noll grad Eger is one of them. Hallberg had a very successful season off the mound last season, and there are high expectations for him to continue being strong in that aspect.
Quote: “Their approach is really good coming to the field. I thought our defense was really good for our first weekend of not being able to be outside. We've seen some good pitching, and our hitting has been up and down at times.” — coach Steve Ruzich
ST. JOSEPH'S COLLEGE (17-31)
Players to watch: Eric Mason, Sr., C (.307 AVG, 1 HR, 21 RBI); Jake Roberts, Sr., 3B (.301 AVG, 3 HR, 19 RBI); Jordan Peterson, So., P (2-2, 2.72 ERA, 44 SO).
Outlook: Last season the Pumas who totaled just 168 runs in 48 games. The team batted just .259 overall, so experienced players like Mason and Roberts will be relied upon to provide big offensive numbers to help the team improve in both categories. Peterson, a Chesterton grad, will likely be expected to play an even bigger role off the mound this season.
— compiled by Times reporter Matt Douthett