(Last year's record in parentheses)
Players to watch: Zach Aring, Sr., P/OF; Michael Takacs, Sr., P/C (.409, 18 R, 11 RBIs, Pitching 8-2, 60 innings 1.63 ERA, 96 SO); Michael Takacs, Sr., P/C/IF (.311, 18 R, 3-1, 24 IP, 1.46 ERA); Nick Hermanson, Sr., P/IF/OF; Devin Mahnke, Sr., IF (.351); Marshall Landis, Jr., IF (13 SB); Kyle Wirkus, Jr., IF/OF.
Outlook: The Bobcats are a senior-dominated team and should be in the running again for the River Valley Conference title. Aring was the RVC player of the year and should dominate, while Takacs and Hermanson will give Beecher a solid pitching staff. Mahnke, Landis and Wirkus should have a good season.
Quote: "We will only go as far as our pitching and defense carry us. We have several individuals who contributed to our successes last season, Aring, Takacs, and Mahnke, they need to continue to get better as players if we are going to reach our team goals for this season." — coach Brandon DuBois
BLOOM TOWNSHIP (11-19)
Players to watch: Caleb Coulom, Sr., P (6-3)' Josiah Dailey, S.r, OF; Rob Metzner, Sr., 2B; Brian Ruiz, Jr., SS; Eric Luther, Jr., P/IF/OF; Josh Hojnicki, Jr., P/RF; Frank Herzic, So., C.
Outlook: There just three seniors on the roster and Coulom should lead the pitching staff. Three-year starter Johnny Bunuelos moved to Texas. If the younger kids come around, the Blazing Trojans could be competitive.
Quote: "The team is showing great attitudes and work ethic thus far." — coach Job Gunderson
Players to watch: Chris Cockle, Sr., P/CF (7-2, 50 SO, 53 IP, 2.62 ERA); Cameron Bass, Sr., 2B (.352, 36 RBIs, 22 SB); Kyle Bumpass, Sr., P/SS (2-1-3, 2.43 ERA); Craig Quick, Sr., P/3B (3-1, 1.40 ERA).
Outlook: Veteran coach Gene Cahan has seven returning seniors who contributed to the 2012 Southland Athletic Conference championship. Cockle anchors a good pitching staff, while Bass is a solid defensive player and can make things happen when he gets on base. As is the norm, Crete will be a very competitive team and are the favorite to win the SAC.
Quote: "If we play good defense (I think we will) and execute on offense we can build towards being a contender in the post season." — Cahan
Players to watch: Teddy Romas, Sr., P (2-1, 4.10 ERA, 28 SO, 27 IP, 6 BB); Jacob Klemp, Sr., OF ((.304, 10 RBIs); Patrick Sheen, Sr., OF (.274); ichael Kendrick, Sr./IF; Jeremy Orbik, So., P; Jesse Forestell, So., C.
Outlook: The Vikings graduated 16 from last year's 22-win team, so they will be inexperienced. Klemp and Sheen are two bats coach Todd Sippel is counting on as well a Kendrick, who transferred from Brother Rice. Romas is expected to be the mound leader. Its schedule will get H-F ready in a hurry.
Quote: "Our defense looks to improve, along with our depth in pitching. I'm very excited for this young, talented group to mature." — Sippel
ILLIANA CHRISTIAN (24-12)
Players to watch: Tyler Sroczynski, Sr, OF (.413, 40 R, 20 RBI); Jordan Davis, Sr, IF/OF (.363, 8 2b,20 RBI); Josh VanBeek Sr, P/IF (.330, 4 HR, 22 RBI); Caleb Jonkman, Jr, P/1B (.321, 17 RBI).
Outlook: Illiana returns the heart of its lineup from last year. Led by lead-off man Tyler Scroczynski, Illiana looks to score early and often. Pitching is anchored by returning starter Josh VanBeek and are looking for big contribution from Caleb Jonkman. The Vikings should battle Glenbard South and Riverside Brookfield for the Metro Suburban Conference title.
Quote: "This is a solid offensive and defensive team. Our pitching staff needs to pitch to spots and make teams beat us." — coach Dan Gibson
ILLINOIS LUTHERAN (21-8)
Players to watch: Colton Moore, Sr., P (8-2, 2.56 ERA, 54 2/3 IP 59 SO, 32 BB); Jake Kendrick, Sr., P (5-3, 2.95 ERA, 42 2/3 IP, 50 SO, 30 BB); Sam Geraci, Jr., SS (.424, 28 H, 42 R, 40 BB, .618 OBP, 22 SB); Jayson Williams, Sr., CF (.415, 2 HR, 20 RBI); Jared Buzan, So., P/3B (.349, 1.96 ERA, 25 IP); Grant Farmer, So., P/1B (.354, 29 SO, 32 1/3 IP).
Outlook: All-River Valley Conference catcher Mack Newson (.346, 27 H, 26 R, 15 SB) is out for the year with an elbow injury. Sophomore Dylan Gould will be the starting catcher. The Chargers return all but three players off a team that won 22 games. The losses (Dylan Kish and Zack Kotecki) were significant, plus Collin Borns did not go out as he is focusing on basketball. There a high expectations for this team and it should contend again in the River Valley Conference and make some noise in the postseason.
Quote: "We look pretty strong on paper, but we need to stay healthy and not take success for granted. These guys want to get back to the sectional championship and win it this year and for that to happen we have to get better in every phase of the game as the year progresses. That is our focus." — coach Mark Kjenstad
MARIAN CATHOLIC (25-17, Class 3A state champions)
Players to watch: Eric Callaghan, Sr., SS/P (.282, .475 slg pct.); Brad Boehlen, Sr., 3B (31 RBIs); Ryan Waaso, Sr., P; Pat Swanson, Sr., OF (24 R, 11 SB); Brent Feldner, Sr., C (.295, 22 RBIs); Reggie Johnson, Sr., P; Pat Schmidt, Jr., 1B (8 2B, 20 R); Michael Bainbridge, Jr., OF/C/P.
Outlook: The Spartans lost some key players including Times Player of the year Brett Lilek (Arizona State) and Robby Cifelli (John Carroll) from their Class 3A state championship team, but Times Coach of the Year Phil Wail has eight returning starters as Marian moves to Class 4A. Missouri recruit Reggie Johnson will be counted on to have a big year. Waaso was an East Suburban Catholic Conference pick and broke the school record by allowing just eight walks in 51 innings. Bohel, Swanson and Callaghan are also the leaders of this team. There is depth and that will come in handy.
Quote: "Very promising, probably most solid team in my eight years We will need to replace innings but have the arms to do it and will rely on what should be an excellent defense and tons of team speed. Looking to be at top of ESCC." — Wail
MOUNT CARMEL (33-6)
Players to watch: Jerry Houston, Sr., SS (.404, 16 2b, 1 3B, 3 HR, 31 RBIs, 40 R); Tom Hayes, Sr., DH/C (.429, 11 2B, 4 Hr, 39 RBIs, 24 R); Jason Gasser, Sr., CF/P (.366, 4 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 26 RBIs, 37 R, 7-0, 43 IP, 6 ER, 0.97 ERA, 28 SO, 20 BB); Justin Gonzales, Sr., 2B (.337, 4 2B, 13 RBIs); Justin Sanchez, Sr., OF (.309, 3 2B, 18 RBIs, 22 R); Austin Dodson, Sr., P (4-0, 24 SO, 13 BB, 3.64 ERA, 13 ER); Marko Boricich, Jr., P (2-0, 4.95 ERA, 24 IP, 17 ER); Joe Kennedy, Sr., P/OF (2-1, 1.56 ERA, 19 SO, 7 BB, 4 ER, .348 7 2B, 13 RBIs, 21 R); Ako Thomas, So., IF; Jeremy Kravetz, Sr., P (6-1, 2.20 ERA, 21 ER, 69 SO, 67 IP, 11 BB).
Outlook: The Caravan return a lot from a team which lost to Lyons Twp. in the Class 4A Mount Carmel Sectional final. Oregon recruit Houston is a four-year starter and one of the top shortstops in the state. Kansas recruit Kravetz is a Kansas recruit and he and Gasser from a top lefty tandem on the mound. Gasser seems to be recovered from arm trouble he had last season. Hayes gives the Caravan versatility and coach Brian Hurry has depth and Thomas' speed is another plus.
Quote: "We have a veteran club led by four-year starter Jerry Houston and a deep pitching staff led by Jeremy Kravetz and Jason Gasser. The fellas have been working hard and we have the goal of winning our last game." — coach Brian Hurry
SETON ACADEMY (11-22)
Players to watch: Nick Tanniehill, Sr., IF/P (.344, .508 OBP, 31 H, 3 2B, 17 RBIs, 40 R 17-19 SB); Ryan Walker, Sr., IF (.356, .491 OBP, 31 H, 4 2B, 2 3B, 26 RBIs, 26-32 SB); William Thomas, Sr., OF/P (.274, 23 H, 4 2B, 3 3b, 23 RBIs, 25 R, 33-36 SB); Eron Evans, Jr., SS (.297, 27 H, 3 2B, 17 RBIs, 41-42 SB).
Outlook: This team has speed as evidenced by the number of stolen bases last year. Tanniehill is expected to have a big year and lead as is Walker. The Sting look to repeat as Catholic League Red champs and could do so if the pitching comes around.
Quote: "This team is a year older and hopefully a year wiser. This team should be right at the top in the CCL Red if the defense plays as expected. Each year the win total has gone up, and we expect to continue the trend in 2013." — Thornton
ST. FRANCIS DE SALES (12-18)
Players to watch: Wesley Jones, Sr., IF/P (.314, 17 R, 19, RBI, 7 2B); Colton Lopez, Jr., P/OF (90 1/3 IP, 152 K, 8BB, .302, 4 2B 3 3B, 1HR, 15 RBIs); Kemari Simmons, Jr., SS/C (.329, 18 R, 8 2B, 11 RBIs. 10 SB); Michael Roggenkamp, Jr., 2B/C (.255, .435 OBP, 16 R, 7 SB); Jacob Rozek, So., OF (.273, 17 R, 8 RBIs); Austin Bober, So., 1B/P (.320, 17 RBI, 5 2B)
Outlook: The Pioneers return everyone and have very talented junior class as well as experience. Freshmen Ryan Williams, Michael Chavez, and Eric Rodriguez should contribute right away as the Pioneers look to repeat as Catholic League Red title and could make a run in the state playoffs.
Quote: "We are coming to play hard every game." — coach Tony Burmistrz
Players to watch: Joe Tucker, Jr., SS (.280); Kyle Phillips, Sr., CF (.265); RaShawn Morris, So., C; Terrence Wilson, Sr., 1B/P.
Outlook: The Falcons should struggle again in the SouthWest Suburban Red with few players with experience. Tucker is a quality shortstop and leadoff man, and will be the No. 1 pitcher. Phillips is a solid fielder and Wilson will be the No. 2 pitcher. It is going to be a long year again.
Quote: "The team is working hard and getting better but an extremely tough schedule awaits." — coach Mike Manderino
Players to watch: Jason Towns, Sr., P/IF (.283, 29 R, 21 SB, 4.63 ERA, 54 K, 61 IP); Jamal Towns, Sr., OF/C (.306 BA, 25 R, 25 RBI, 28 SB); Antaun McHerron, Srr, P/IF (.287 BA, 29 RBI, 4.51 ERA, 48 K, 40 IP); D’Anthony Cross, Jr., OF (.292 BA, 2 HR, 25 R, 27 SB).
Outlook: The Wildcats were the surprise team last year, winning 15 games and finishing 6-8 in the SouthWest Suburban Red. It was Thornton's best finish in several years and with seven returning starters, Thornton can have another winning season. The Towns twins are back and will be the catalysts of the offense. McHerron and Cross should have big years at the plate. If coach Nick Tarala gets a few more pitchers, Thornton could have another good season.
Quote: "We’re in the tough SouthWest Suburban Red Conference, but should be able to scratch out some wins. Our speed and athleticism will help us. We have some potential and are excited for the upcoming season." — Tarala
T.F. NORTH (18-19)
Players to Watch: Bill Wilson, Sr., CF (.383, 13 2B, 20 RBI 43-49 SB, school record); Zachary Turner, Jr., P/C/IF/OF (.425, 14 2B, 27 RBIs); Fabian Del real, Jr., P/IF (4-3, 40 SO).
Outlook: Turner should blossom into a star and was the team's best payer last year. Wilson's speed should start a few rallies as he set a program single-season mark with 42 stolen bases. as the lone senior, he will have to be a leader.. The Meteors can get some pitching and play defense, they could have a winning record.Mike Sazblewski, Eric Sandoval, Patrick Robinson, Mike Steele and Moises Mendoza are expected to come around if North wants to improve on its 4-15 South Suburban Blue mark from a year ago.
Quote: "We have lost in our pitching department 11 wins because of graduation. With the nucleus of our crop of juniors and sophomores that have been playing together for a couple of years we should be competitive. Our biggest opponent will be for all of our players staying eligible in the school work which is the number one goal." — coach Mike Kosiara
T.F. SOUTH (15-19)
Players to Watch: Peyton Padjen, Sr., 2B (.317, 13 RBIs, 2 2B); Justin Pasko, Sr. IF/P (.358, 11 RBIs, 17 SB; 3-6, 4.26 ERA); Brian Seymour, Jr., SS (.302, 13 RBIs); Alex Schell, Sr., 1B/P (.26, 14 RBIs, 3-3); Steve Stubitsch, Jr., CF (.253, 17 SB); James Macklin, Jr., 3B; Dan Lindich, Jr., P.
Outlook: Padjen and Pasko were all-South Suburban Blue and Seymour should have a great year. This year's team features a lot of players who have a lot of experience.
Quote: "This years team has a lot of experience. That experience will help as the 2013 season gets under way. Our players have been working hard and have big expectations for themselves." — coach Matt Tiffy
Players to watch: Robert Blissitt Sr. SS/P, Mike Polan Sr. 1b, Jimmy Coleman Sr. C, Devon Willingham Sr. P, Gerald Strohman Sr. CF/P, and Lewis Sockwell Jr. P/OF.
Outlook: First-year coach Michael Triumph and his staff have their hands full in trying to rebuild the program.
Quote: "Rebuilding Thornwood baseball will be a great challenge, not only within our school, but also with helping baseball programs in the community. I have the upmost respect for Thornwood baseball being that it is my alma mater, and I couldn't be more excited to begin this incredible opportunity." -- Triumph
Players to watch: Jesse Lopez, Sr., (P/SS 8-3, 123 SO, 17 BB, 3.65 ERA, .420 avg., 21 SB, 6 HR, 47 RBIs ); Adrian Luna,Sr., 2B/P (6-3 97 SO, 22 BB, 3.00 ERA); Sr. Anthony Solis, Sr. (.323 avg. 19 SB); Augastin Guerrero, Jr. (.300, 4 HR, 26 RBIs); Beto Gonzalez, Jr. (4-1, 2.36 ERA).
Outlook: The Patriots move to the Jackie Robinson conference and will square off with powerhouses Simeon, Harlan, and Whitney Young. The Patriots will look to be at the top of the division with eight returning starters.
Quote: "With returning 2012 first-team all-area pick Jesse Lopez, and honorable mention Adrian Luna anchoring the pitching staff the Patriots will look to make a deep run in the 3A state playoffs." — coach Joe Pancer
— Compiled by Mike Nieto