Duneland Athletic Conference
Players to watch: Jordan Peterson, Sr., P (.353; 1-7, 2.59 ERA, 67 K/55 2/3 IP); Austin Cooley, Jr., C (.274, 10 RBIs); Jake Post, Jr., P (1-1, 29 2/3 IP); Justin Jenks, Sr., SS (.258, 14 R); Nate Majcher, Sr., OF (.304, 3 HR, 14 R, 15 RBIs).
Outlook: The Trojans (4-19) had little experience and took some lumps last season as a result. Now, a dozen of those kids are back and the results should be much better. Peterson (St. Joseph's College) and Post logged nearly 85 innings between them on the mound.
Quote: "Things are a lot clearer. We've got a pretty good idea who will start and on a batting order. Last year, we weren't even close. Hopefully, it'll factor into more success. We've got a lot of character kids. I'm really looking forward to this year." -- coach Jack Campbell
Players to watch: Mike Manion, Sr., RHP (7-2, 1.77 ERA); Jose Andrade, Sr., C (.472, 3 HR, 10 SB); Jake Lindeman, Jr. (.376, 6 2B, 1 HR; 3-0); Brian Holloway, Sr., RHP (6-0, 3.07 ERA).
Outlook: With the graduation of six seniors, the Bulldogs are hoping to reload quickly in key positions. Returning Manion and Holloway to the mound will be key while the search for a complete rotation continues. Andrade brings a big bat as the remaining youngsters will be counted on to help produce runs.
Quote: "We've got to be able to execute this year. We can't think we'll just go out and hit the ball out of the ballpark. I'm anxious to see what level we're at and where we'll be." -- coach Steve Strayer
Players to watch: Cody Dykema, Sr., SS (.381, 2 HR); Jimmy McNamara, Jr., LHP/OF (6-1, 2.43 ERA, 53 K, 3 BB); Brandon Cloutier, Sr., OF (.400, 2 HR).
Outlook: The Indians return seven starters from a team that jumped out of the gate with quick wins last season. Good youth coming up will complement some big bats, but the Indians will need some of that success to come on the mound, where just 57 innings of work return. Mount Carmel transfer Jordan Polito offers a nice utility option.
Quote: "You've got to think that experience is going to be our biggest strength. When you return seven players in the field, you're not starting out too bad." -- coach Jeff Sandor
Players to watch: Kyle Upp, Sr., C/3B (.338, 2 HR, 10 2B, 31 RBIs); Connor Podkul, Sr., P (8-2, 56 1/3 IP/79 SO, 1.49 ERA); Sean Rogers, Sr., 1B/SS (.244, 17 RBIs); Jacob Craft, Sr., OF (.353, 7 3B, 11 SB, 21 RBIs); Tim Sharp, Sr., 2B (.343); Ben Irons, Sr., OF (.278).
Outlook: The Slicers (27-4) have seven players from last year's team now playing in college. That leaves a good starting point in the Purdue-bound battery of Upp and Podkul, and the speedy Craft. Beyond that, there are a lot of questions, though LaPorte usually finds the answers.
Quote: "We will be looking for some strong leadership out of the senior class to bring along the untested newcomers for the season," -- coach Scott Upp
Players to watch: Nick Feliciano, Sr., LHP (4-5, 3.30 ERA, 7 CG, 79 K/61 IP; .312. 4 HR); Kyle Strom, Sr., RHP (3-3, 20K/44 IP, 4.14 ERA); Chris Knight, Sr., SS (.285, 19 R, 14-16 SB), Kenny Wright, Sr., OF (.280, 13-16 SB).
Outlook: The Pirates jumped out of the gate last season with important wins in early games, then petered out at the end. Merrillville returns its top two pitchers and young offensive talent.
Quote: "Our main goal that we talk about every day is 'first things first.' Whether that's in the classroom or on the ballfield, we work on doing what needs to be done that day and the next day, we'll work on the next thing. We can be very competitive when we focus more on what we do and what we need to do right." -- coach Mark Shellinger.
Players to watch: Brenden Lomow, Sr., P/1B; Vinny Yadavia, Sr., 2B; Chad Galloway, Sr., P/1B; Robert Coursel, Jr., P/OF.
Outlook: The Wolves will try to fill the void of all-around standout Jordan Niemann (Manchester) with Lomow, Galloway and Coursel, a hard thrower with nasty stuff who will make the move from the bullpen to the rotation. Leadoff man Yadavia is a three-year starter.
Quote: "It's a great mix for us. We've got some seniors, some younger guys with some experience and some good, young talent that just needs a little experience." -- coach David Ortiz
Players to watch: Tony Cheky, Sr., OF (.523, 4 HR, 12 3B, 32 RBIs); Gabe Acevedo, Jr., 3B (.481, 4 HR, 9 2B, 29 RBIs); Sam Puchalski, Sr., OF (.383, 4 HR, 7 2B, 22 RBIs); Cody Jackson, Sr., P (2.89 ERA, 58 1/3 IP); Nathan Ramian, Sr., 2B (.347, 4 2B, 12 RBIs); Allen Barrett, Sr., SS/P (1.58 ERA, 35 1/3 IP).
Outlook: Optimism has never been higher at Portage (18-10), where the Indians, with seven regulars and most of their pitching back, are looking to contend in the DAC and sectional. Cheky is a Michigan State commit, while Acevedo and 6-foot-7 junior left-hander Dave Jercha are also receiving Division I interest.
Quote: "There's no doubt we're going to get 20 wins. I think we can compete with anyone. There's no team in the state (physically) stronger than us. No way. We'll see if it translates." -- coach Tim Pirowski
Players to watch: Jerrick Suiter, Sr., P/OF/C (7-5, 3.75 ERA, 71 SO/59 2/3 IP; .398, 7 HR, 24 R, 26 RBIs); John Olejniczak, Jr., P/OF (.375; 4-2, 2.39 ERA); Dom Coatsolonia, Sr., IF (.314, 20 runs); John Clymer, Sr., P/IF (.302); Greg Simms, Sr., 1B (.290).
Outlook: New coach Dave Coyle builds around Suiter, a TCU signee who will pitch, patrol the outfield and spot catch. Olejniczak comes off a strong sophomore year at the plate and on the mound. They'll be backed by an upperclass group that should provide some punch as well as some pitching depth for the Vikings (19-9).
Quote: "We've got a lot of skill back from last year. We're very excited about some of our other pitchers. We keep talking about the drive these senior kids have at all levels. Their enthusiasm and work ethic is contagious." -- Coyle
Great Lakes Athletic Conference
Players to watch: Jordan Pollack, Sr., RHP/3B; Enrique Zamora, Jr., RHP; Chad Mysiewcz, Sr., 1B; Alex Evanich, Sr., C; Jerald Morgan, Jr., Util.
Outlook: The Pioneers have power in the batting order, so expect to see a lot of offense. With power, comes a lack of speed, so they'll be knocking the ball around the field, not manufacturing runs. Key starting pitching returns for the team that the rest of the conference is gunning for. The outfield is young and will be battle-tested early.
Quote: "We have some big kids out this year, so we should have a pretty good hitting team. We've got some power, and that's going to help us a lot." -- coach Chris Moore.
Players to watch: Aveeno Nasiloski, Sr., OF/RHP (.431, 10 2B, 3 HR, 2 3B, 25 R, 32 RBIs); Fred Ebner, Sr., RHP/3B; Kevin Johnson, Sr., OF; Dwayne Jones, Jr., RHP.
Outlook: Gavit returns 13 players from last season's team, providing experience in key skill areas. Nasiloski has shown his athleticism extends beyond the basketball court and is a key component to the Gladiators' offensive success. Pitching could be a problem early with a need for more arms to complement the offensive power.
Quote: "We have a lot of returning players, so we have a lot of returning experience. We've spent a lot of time working on our hitting, so hopefully we can lay down a couple bunts when we need to because that was a problem last year." -- coach Tony Harris.
Players to watch: Jordan Beasley, Sr., RHP/2B (.276, 11 R, 1-2, 7 K, 11 2/3 IP); Josh Williams, Sr., RHP/CF (1-1, 8 K/7 1/3 IP); Darrin Clemens, Jr., RHP/SS (3 R).
Outlook: After the loss of their top two pitchers and top three hitters, the Wildcats add Marcos Arradondo, a freshman utility man who can play anywhere on the field. At the outset of the season, expect to see the defensive pressure Hammond hopes to put on opponents while the offense kick-starts. Pitching will come as those with less experience are relied on more.
Quote: "We'll be pretty strong defensively and we talked a lot about that last year. Coming in with it being my first season last year, we didn't get a whole lot of time to work on the basic fundamentals. In the offseason, we stressed learning the game itself." -- coach Michael Siwy.
Players to watch: Brandon Valentine, Sr., RHP/1B (.380, 9 R; 4.73 ERA, 2-3, 31 K/37 IP), DJ Griffin, Sr., RHP/Util. (.270, 20 R); Jesse Escamilla, Jr., RHP/2B (.360, 3 HR, 15 R, 15 RBIs); Chris McCormick, Jr., 3B (.390, 20 R).
Outlook: With the talent pool of athletes at Morton not running dry anytime soon, the baseball team is the beneficiary of some of that multisport skill. There is a lot of experience and a lot of offensive and pitching talent returning. Expect to see more innings out of Valentine, who can reach 85 on the radar gun, and the Govs will be strong at the plate.
Quote: "I don't really see a lot of weaknesses with this team. Defensively, we're solid and we have got a lot of experience. The first practice we could get outside, we really hit the ball well and I think we're going to be a better hitting team than we were last year." -- coach Scott Lush.
Greater South Shore Conference
Players to watch: Kody Alayon, Jr., SS (.371, 31 R, 18 RBIs); Eric Rodriguez, Sr., RHP (4-1, 2.82 ERA).
Outlook: The Warriors are young -- very, very young. There's talent there, though finding the right spots for each player will take up the early part of the season. The lineup juggling is all in the hope of finding the right combination in time for the postseason.
Quote: "What we as a whole strive for, and our team knows this, is that it doesn't really matter until the postseason comes. If we don't win a lot of games, and we come out with a sectional and regional championship, that's OK. We're working every day for the end of May." -- coach Paul Wirtz
Players to watch: Marcus Jackson, So., RHP/SS/CF; Josh Joseph, Sr., RHP/1B; KC Whaleski, Jr., RHP/3B; Jose Rodriguez, Jr., 1B/RHP.
Outlook: The Warriors have five seniors, two juniors and 11 other players scattered between the sophomore and freshman classes. Though his team is young, coach Roger Azbill said he's impressed with his players' desire to learn more about the game. Having graduated six from the 2010 edition of Calumet baseball, the Warriors will rely on pitching and defense until the bats start to catch up.
Quote: "This team's goal is basically to get better and do the best they can. I have three or four freshmen who don't look too bad, especially coming in first off the bat. They'll get thrown into the mix, too." -- Azbill
Players to watch: Brian Creech, Jr., RHP (50 IP, 85 K), Dan Bogaski, Sr., CF/RHP (.347); Chris Szoztek, So., SS (.308).
Outlook: The Eagles won more games last season than in the previous two campaigns combined. With all but one true starter returning, that gives this team determination to improve on the seven victories. The pitching is where coach Tony Hicks would like to see it and he's happy to see the early-season progress of his team's offensive power.
Quote: "We want to be over .500 and compete for the sectional. That might not sound like a lot to some of the teams in the area that have seen a lot of success, but we haven't talked about those kinds of wins as a team for a long time at Lake Station." -- Hicks
Players to watch: Matthew Pomranke, Sr., P/SS; Connor Lombard, Sr., P/IF; Drew Lemay, Sr., P/IF.
Outlook: New coach and Marquette alum Joe Bobillo will build around his senior trio and a sophomore trio who started as freshmen.
Quote: "I expect the mound effort to be pretty solid. We should be really solid defensively. Obviously, we'll have some growing pains, but from Day 1 to now, they've grown every day. Hopefully that progresses as the season goes well." -- Bobillo
Players to watch: Mike Montemeyer, Sr., 3B/1B/RHP (.455, 23 RBIs, 12 2B; 2-0, 1 S, 3.92 ERA, 17 K); Wes Pemberton, Sr., RHP/3B (.384, 14 RBIs, 28 H; 4-5, 5.03 ERA, 41 K), Connor Lang, Sr., C (.338, 23 H, 14 R); Kyle Mark, Sr., CF (.328, 22 H, 15 R); Chad Schultz, So., SS (.436, 34 H, 27 R, 21 RBIs).
Outlook: The Spartans return strong hitting and speed on the basepaths. This team can pound the ball and manufacture a few runs. If there's a question mark, it'll be on the mound, where the pitching staff is uncertain after Montemeyer and Pemberton.
Quote: "We have talked a lot about 18 wins and we feel that as long as the pitching comes around, we can get those 18 wins this year." -- coach Greg Mikulich
Players to watch: Josh Holmes, Sr., C; Sam O'Shea, Sr., P/3B; Erin Hegan, Sr., 3B/OF; Jesse Kellar, Jr., CF/P; Casey Nader, Sr., P/1B.; Matt Ittersagen, Jr., P.
Outlook: New coach Josh Long has a solid nucleus to start with, and will benefit from the return of shortstop David Bolla, who missed all of last season due to injury, and Nick Naspinski, who was sidelined during the year. O'Shea will be a mound workhorse with a committee of hurlers filling in behind him.
Quote: "The core group back is highly motivated. They're planning on doing more damage than they did. They want to get a sectional championship. I've really been pleased with their work ethic. That goes a long way." -- Long
Players to watch: Elliott Bajda, Sr., SS (.327, 44 R, 24 RBIs, 26 SB); Matt Aponte, Sr., RHP (7-1, 2.45 ERA, 43 K); Coty Sparks, Jr., RHP (6-0, 1 S, 2.02 ERA, 32 K), Jordan Macon, Jr., RHP (4-3, 4-3, 2.36 ERA, 23 K); Nick Fillipek, So., RHP (2.80 ERA, 5 K/5 IP).
Outlook: If there's a question that the Oilers have turned into a program with winning expectations, the record of the senior class is all that needs to be seen: 60-30 and 11-3 in tournament play. The team also picked up Mount Carmel transfer Mike Casillas, a Whiting resident who has played summer ball with many of the Oilers. The best part of the Whiting season comes in April, when the team opens the $9 million park that will now be called "home."
Quote: "We still have six starters back and this senior class has been with us and done a lot of good things with us." -- coach Kevin Lenz
Northwest Crossroads Conference
Players to watch: Jordan Falls, Sr., C (.431, 15 RBIs, 12 R); Tyler Ochi, Sr., INF (.319, 13 RBIs, 13 R); Zak Ryan, So., RHP (3-1, 2.91 ERA, 29 K).
Outlook: The two-time defending Class 3A state champs enter this season with fewer questions than they did last season and with a deeper pool of talent to draw from. Last season's two freshman teams have grown, aged and added to the 13 returning lettermen, giving the 59ers options at every position. Add a full year of eligibility for lefty Mike Hanchar and Andrean starts to make up for the graduations to its pitching staff.
Quote: "We graduated five guys who all contributed to the success of this program and who were all important. There's no disrespect to them, but there's someone there that has the potential to replace them at every level. Potential means they haven't done it yet, but it's nice to see that there's one guy who has a better this or that than another guy. We'll be a more athletic team this year." -- coach Dave Pishkur.
Players to watch: Garrett Litke, Jr., SS (.322, 20 R, 18 RBIs); Jesse Smith, So., 3B/RHP (.214, 15 R, 16 RBIs; 3-3, 4.09 ERA, 24 K); Calvin Bonewits, Sr., RHP (3-0, 6.03 ERA, 19 K); Mike Dobosz, Sr., DH/LHP (.338, 18 R, 18 RBIs, 1-6, 4.17 ERA, 24 K).
Outlook: The Panthers might look young with a roster littered with sophomores and juniors, but don't be fooled by youth. Griffith returns all 130 innings of pitching, and tough, scrappy talent. The experience, not their age, will help define the Panthers this season.
Quote: "One thing about this group is that they're very confident and very focused. Since school started, they've made a lot of strides physically and they're excited to start the season." -- coach Brian Jennings.
Players to watch: Jordan Minch, Jr., LHP/1B (54 IP, 70 K, 4-5, 2.96 ERA; .338); Keith Mahler, Sr., RHP/OF (49 IP, 68 K, 6-2, 3.12 ERA; .294); Matt Knesek, Sr., 3B (.313, 6 2B); Mike Gamaleri, Sr., CF (.345).
Outlook: Highland returns one of the strongest pitching rotations in the region and a solid hitting corps. The Trojans lost a few players up the middle of the infield thanks to graduation and are hoping to find a suitable replacement at the backstop to call games.
Quote: "We hope our pitching will carry us. Up the middle, we're going to have to find some people, but we think we'll be OK." -- coach Dan Miller
Players to watch: Tony Curatolo, Sr., SS/RHP (.329, 24 R, 28 H, 13 RBIs, 7 2B); Jake Trezak, Sr., C (.311, 7 R, 23 H, 13 RBIs); Sam Moore, Sr., 3B (.262, 13 R, 20 RBIs).
Outlook: The Brickies expect to rely on their pitching early and have found consistency with four who will carry the team if they can stay steady. Hitters could struggle early, so the defense has been working to supplement what the pitchers are capable of.
Quote: "We haven't been over .500 since 2004 and this group feels pretty confident in themselves right now. That's what they're trying to shoot for -- a .500 season. For some places, we know that having a winning season is not a big deal, but if we can do it, that's something they can hang their hats on." -- coach Bob Glover Jr.
Players to watch: Tyler Simmons, Sr., SS/RHP; Mike Tilley, Sr., RHP/2B/SS; Kevin Bobby, Sr., C/OF; Dylan Patrick, Sr., CF; Tyler Cambe, Sr., LHP/1B.
Outlook: The Kougars return three four-year starters and two three-year starters from the team that lost to Andrean in the sectional final, but gave the 59ers their closest game of the 2010 postseason. While depth on the mound opens the season as the biggest question mark, there is experience and leadership that will be counted on to hold up the team in the early games.
Quote: "There's no question about it, this is one of the finest groups of seniors I've ever had. Not only (with) experience and skill, but also in attitude. They have a leadership style and they have a desire to win." -- coach Doug Greenlee
Players to watch: Danny DeBoer, So., RHP; Josh Henshilwood, Sr., RHP/INF; Matt Hilbrich, Sr., OF; Jordan Juarez, Sr., INF.
Outlook: With a new coach in Bobby Wong, the Red Devils are starting anew this spring. Offensively, Lowell expects to continue to bring the big bats, but cutting down on errors -- 57 errors in 26 games last season -- will be key to turning that power into production.
Quote: "I think we've come a long way since the beginning of the year. They're just getting used to what I expect out of them. It took a little bit if time, but I think the things we're looking for have been there and we're ready to start playing a game." -- Wong
Players to watch: John Cristo 3B/RHP (2-1, 8 K, 4.00 ERA; .297, 7 2b, 13 R, 19 RBIs); Nate Eagan, Sr., CF (.230, 17 H, 13 R, 9 RBI); Jim Hinkleman, Sr., RHP/1B (2-2, 4.90 ERA, 18 K; .250, 8 R, 7 RBI, 2 HR); Adam Larimer, Sr., SS (.319, 19 R, 11 RBI, 23 H, 3 SB).
Outlook: The Mustangs lost nine seniors from the 2010 semistate team, including Times Player of the Year Ryan Wilkinson. That doesn't mean the cupboard is even remotely bare. The 2011 seniors haven't hiccupped in taking over the team while helping to lead defensively. That's where the keys will be until the offense can show its power.
Quote: "This is high school baseball and we're proud of the past, but this is a whole new crop of kids who are excited about this season. There's a definite winning attitude going on here and it's contagious." -- coach Bob Shinkan
Porter County Conference
Players to watch: Tommy Burton, So., CF (.447, 22 R, 22 RBIs); A.J. Mosier, Jr., P/OF; Jake Wright, So., SS; Stefan Hess, Jr., OF; Cody Poynter, So., OF.
Outlook: The Wolves started several seniors last year, when they won a sectional, but also played plenty of pups who now comprise the nucleus of the team. A rugged summer schedule that included numerous college showcase tournaments prepped the young group well for what lies ahead. Boone will be a load in the next few years, maybe even this year.
Quote: "I think the experience is there. We're not very deep, but the players we have at each position are pretty good. I like their eagerness and intensity. If they come through with the composure and confidence at the end of games, we'll do OK." -- coach Rollie Thill
Players to watch: Andy Wellwerts, Sr., RHP/INF (3-1, 2.85 ERA, 49 K); Tyler Trepton, Jr., LHP/Util. (3-1, 3.80 ERA, 41 K, .314); Nic Sampognaro, Sr., 2B/RHP (.378); Nick Laing, Sr., OF (.357)
Outlook: After graduating just two players, the Wildcats return more experience and have spent the winter in the weight room. Hanover Central expects to compete in the conference with a tough group of five starters and an ace in Wellwerts. Coach Doug Nelson said that he likes what he's seen from his offense, but is waiting for the Wildcats to be battle-tested to see what kind of production his hitters can bring.
Quote: "Some of our boys are just getting bigger and that shows a good offseason of working out. The kids have dedicated themselves to getting better and you can see that." -- Nelson
Players to watch: Cody Hayes, Sr., P/1B; Damon Wallace, Sr., P/Util.; Kyle Joyce, So., 3B; Kyle Hernandez, Jr., OF: Alex Anderson, Jr., SS.
Outlook: Basketball coach John Steinhilber jumped in as baseball coach when the position re-opened in the winter. He inherits an up-and-coming club that had one senior on the roster last year. Joyce was one of the top freshmen in the area last season and Steinhilber looks for a breakout spring from Anderson.
Quote: "They're ready to take the next step. A lot has to do with whether they stick together and do things the right way. So far, they have. They want to get better." -- Steinhilber
Players to watch: Jake Keough, Sr., P/CF (3-3; .329, 26 SB); Matt Morgart, Sr., 1B (.362, 17 RBIs); Josh Jendrzejcyk, Sr., OF; Evan Blonn, Sr., OF; Max Evereart, Fr., P/SS.
Outlook: The Mustangs (11-14) have a veteran outfield, paced by the speedy Keough, but an unknown infield outside of Morgart. Evereart showed promise in summer ball and could fill a key void at shortstop, as well as provide needed pitching depth if he can make the leap to varsity.
Quote: "We're missing some pieces to the puzzle. Some JV guys will have to come in and play. We'd definitely like to add on to (our record)." -- coach Matt Weston
Players to watch: Jared Dyjak, So., 3B/P; Jimmy Rippe, Jr., P/1B; Ross Warner, Sr., 2B; Alex Gorrell, SS, Sr.; Tyler Mack, Jr., CF.
Outlook: The Tigers played plenty of freshmen and sophomores last year, when they won all of their games in May and took Whiting to the limit in the sectional. With that group virtually intact, LaCrosse should be much improved.
Quote: "I asked them what they want their goals to be. They said to be around .500, be in the top half of the conference and be playing our best ball at the end of the year." -- coach Brian McMahan
Players to watch: Mark Ehrstein, Jr., 3B (.431, 33 R); Adam Rettinger, So., C/P (.329, 28 R, 21 RBIs; 4-2); Joe Dougherty, So., P (3-3); Brandon Murphy, Jr., 2B/P (.333, 25 RBIs; 4-1); Kyle Clark, Sr., 1B (.324, 2 HR, 16 RBIs).
Outlook: Morgan (15-10) averaged over nine runs a game last year, but had an ERA over five and suspect glove work. The Cherokees hope the hard-throwing Dougherty can emerge as their ace and stabilize the pitching staff, while another sophomore, Ryan Klikus, is expected to shore up the infield at shortstop.
Quote: "Pitching and defense are the two things that are going to take us. We've got to pick up the ball. Throwing strikes is the name of the game for us. We've set the bar a little higher. Winning games and being above .500 isn't enough. We want to step with the (PCC) big boys." -- coach Jason Dorshorst
Players to watch: Dan Snyder, Sr., P/SS (.359, 13 2B, 21 RBIs; 81 IP/87 K, 5-4, 3.72 ERA); Garrett Walter, Jr., 3B (.414, 10 2B, 33 RBIs); Blake Geske, Jr., OF (.322, 5 2B); Stephen Shepherd, Jr. 1B/Util. (.301); Ben Rosebaum, Jr., IF.
Outlook: The Satellites return six starters and the bulk of their pitching from their sectional-champion club. Seniors Myles Sims and Devin Wiltse will bolster the outfield for a team that is junior-dominated.
Quote: "The kids weren't satisfied with last year. There's a buzz in the air. They want to be better. They know they can be better. Hopefully, that year of experience will carry over. The guys have been working really hard to correct all the mistakes." -- coach Ron King
Players to watch: Brandon Hogge, Sr., SS; AJ Whitcomb, Sr., C; Greg Fadell, Jr., P/CF; Cody Goodan, Jr., P/Util.; Bob Ross, So., 1B; Justin Landgrebe, So., P.
Outlook: The Senators were extremely young last season and still have just a couple juniors and seniors. Pitching holds the key for Washington.
Quote: "The concept that the season is in the palm of (the pitchers') hands has been given to them very straightforward. There was a point of emphasis when the summer started that we were going to have to get tougher. A lot of times, we played like babies." -- coach Randy Roberts
Players to watch: Justin Dexter, Sr., RHP; Zach Bowers, Jr., SS (.330); Evan Trost, So., C.
Outlook: Dexter is a 6-7 hurler headed to IU Northwest to play basketball who was out last season after breaking his pitching hand. He'll be counted on to replace the gaggle of seniors who graduated. While depth will help defensively, the hitting pool is shallower to start the season.
Quote: "We're going to work on stringing together run-scoring opportunities. I basically have four experienced hitters and then a whole bunch of inexperienced hitters. At the end of the season, I suspect they'll have seen what they need to in time for the sectional." -- coach Roger Boer
Players to watch: Angelo Rosas-Badillo, Sr., CF (.324, 14 RBIs, 8 SB), Erik Romo, Sr., 2B (.306, 11 RBIs, 13 SB).
Outlook: The Cardinals lost one starter from last season's 10-14 team. The experience will be huge for E.C., which hopes to return to the success it has seen in the past decade. With big baserunners returning, watch for speed on the basepaths to be key to manufacturing runs and creating an offense.
Players to watch: Jake West, Jr., RHP/SS (5-3, .384 ERA, 63 K; .397, 17 R, 23 H, 17 RBIs, 3 HR, 5 2B, 2 3B) Josh Foster, Sr., Util. (.431, 21 R, 25 H, 12 RBIs), Kirby Spangler, Jr., RHP/2B (2-4, 2 S, 4.80 ERA, 30 K; .303, 18 R, 20 H, 8 RBIs).
Outlook: The Bombers graduated one starter from the 11-15-1 team of 2010. Bringing back almost every starter gives the team hope to compete in the tough Hoosier Conference and for a sectional title. The focus early will be to play error-free baseball, zeroing in on the importance of defense.
Quote: "These kids feel good about what they can do this year, and even a couple of the new guys who either didn't play or couldn't because of injury are excited to be back. They're pushing some of the other kids and this is the first year I've had to make cuts." -- coach Brian Zacher.
Players to watch: Jesse Mills, Sr., P/SS; Louie Grounds, Sr., C; Reilly Wilson, Sr., P/1B; D.J. Warren, Sr., UT-P; Danny Kurth, Sr., 1B/OF; Hipolito Pacheco, Jr., P/3B.
Outlook: A veteran Blackhawks squad has been pointing to this season for a while. Mills and Wilson head an experienced pitching staff. A key will be peaking at the right time.
Quote: "There are very high expectations for this group. They've been coached with the thought that they're the ones who are going to get Westville baseball a sectional and anything less will definitely be a letdown." -- coach Kevin McMahon