NEW LENOX | Marian Catholic pitcher Brett Lilek is used to big decisions, both on the field and off.
Lilek's expression lit up when he recalled the relief he felt when he decided prior to his junior season with the Spartans to play his collegiate baseball with Arizona State. It was a weight off his shoulders, one that allowed him to focus on the 2011 season, during which his team posted 18 wins and Lilek was named the top junior prospect in the state by Prep Baseball Report.
By contrast, Lilek shrugged off thoughts on the Major League draft. Lilek is rated one of the top left-handed prep prospects in the nation now, and is expected to be selected rather high in a draft some analysts have said will tilt more toward prep players this year.
"I'm not sure right now," Lilek said of the lure of being drafted. "'Whatever happens, happens. I just want to win a state championship. That is all I'm focused on now."
That is good news for Marian Catholic. The draft begins at 5 p.m. today, the same time the Spartans play Simeon in the Class 3A Standard Bank Supersectional game in Crestwood.
Marian Catholic advanced to the supersectional by winning the school's first-ever sectional title at Lincoln-Way West on Saturday, beating the host school 11-2. Lilek, who pitched a one-hit shutout to help the Spartans past Illiana Christian in the T.F. North Regional final on May 26, took his game even higher against the Warriors on Saturday.
The 6-foot-4 left-hander from South Holland struck out a season-best 15 batters, allowed three hits and pitched a complete game. He retired the final 10 batters he faced.
"Brett can effectively throw three different pitches at three different speeds," Marian Catholic coach Phil Wail said. "That's tough on hitters, especially when you can throw 90 miles per hour."
Lilek, who joined the varsity as a freshman, called Saturday's win the highlight of his prep career. Lilek believes the Spartans, which have won 22 games this season, have the ability to parlay their current five-game winning streak into an even higher place in Marian Catholic athletic lore.
"We are all coming together and playing as a team," Lilek said. "We are picking each other up in key situations. To keep going in the tournament, we just need to stay focused and play the game hard."