PREP BASEBALL | SEASON PREVIEW

Marian baseball team has great expectations

2012-03-23T22:00:00Z 2012-05-11T00:30:51Z Marian baseball team has great expectationsBy Mike Nieto mike.nieto@nwi.com, (219) 933-3232 nwitimes.com
March 23, 2012 10:00 pm  • 

CHICAGO HEIGHTS | The one thing pitchers Brett Lilek and Robby Nunn see as the key to Marian Catholic's season is not how fast they can throw a fastball or the break in their curve.

"Team chemistry," Lilek said. "We seem to have it, and that is what is improtant."

Having two Division I pitchers in Nunn (Western Illinois) and Lilek (Arizona State), plus junior shortstop/pitcher Erik Callaghan as a possible No. 3 doesn't hurt. In fact, it gives the Spartans a strong starting rotation that's backed with depth in Josh Pieck, Mitch Weissenhoffer and Ryan Waaso.

"Our job is to be the leaders as seniors and make sure that everybody is involved," Nunn said. "We have to play together. As for pitching, Brett and me are lucky because there is not a lot of pressure on us. We have a great staff and we have great fielders. We do not have to strike out everybody to win a game."

The Spartans were 18-18 last year, but came in third in the summer tournament, the Phil Lawler Classic. That has some carryover, coach Phil Wail said.

"Teams that do well in the summer usually are pretty good the next year," Wail said. "We emphasized that to the kids, that we had to have a good summer, and they did.

"Now, we have to go out and play hard and build off that."

Lilek had a 2.75 ERA last year and had 73 strikeouts. Nunn fanned 49 and had a 3.02 ERA.

Lilek said the team has high hopes, and has the talent and chemistry for success.

"We are expecting to do really well this year," Lilek said. "We've been together three years, and we feel we have good pitching and a solid lineup.

"Robby and I are the No. 1 and No. 2, but that does not diminish the other guys. Anyone of those guys can step up and throw a good game or come in relief."

Callaghan said with those two on the mound, there is a lot more confidence in the field.

"You know they are going to get a lot of ground balls and that we are always going to be in a close game," Callaghan said. "As for me on the mound, you learn from watching those two. I feel we have a deep pitching staff."

Outfielder Robby Cifelli said the team chemistry was missing the last two years, but the seniors are there to make sure everyone is on the same level.

"We want to win and we want to go far in the state tournament," Cifelli said. "We have a good group and the key is to play together. We good some good hitters and we have a great pitching staff."

Third baseman Devin Pickett, who will play at Iowa, agrees.

"You do feel confident with any of those three on the mound because they are going to keep you in games," Pickett said. "I think when you have a good pitchers like those three, it does make you that much more sure of yourself."

He is also confident in himself and teammates.

"We got a good team from top to bottom," Pickett said. "We can have a good year if we play together, and right now we are thinking team first."

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