Spring Baseball Preview 2023

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It’s time for the baseball season as six of our area teams are ready to get back on the diamond hoping for a strong 2023. This preview is sponsored by BMO Harris Bank.

Neuqua Valley looking to continue its strong play

We start off the baseball preview with back-to-back regional champions Neuqua Valley. In 2022 the Wildcats had another strong season winning the DVC regular season title and capturing yet another regional to add to the trophy case. Unfortunately, the postseason run came to an end with a sectional semifinal loss to Plainfield North. The blue and gold had to say goodbye to players like Palmer Domschke, Tyler Auer, Justin Nonnenman, and Colin Lewandowski. For the 2023 season, only a few varsity players return, but this program churns out talent year after year. Catcher Mark Wagner, shortstop Josh Wenz and pitcher Mark Mennecke all return to the diamond this spring. All three enter their senior seasons with multiple varsity seasons under their belts. Fifth-year head coach James Thornton knows their leadership role will be pivotal. 

“They know what is expected and they have stepped into their roles tremendously. They have led us in a very positive direction and then the other guys are filling in the gaps. It’s a young team but the guys that are the leaders have done a really good job incorporating everybody to a point where I think we’ll be good,” said Neuqua Valley Baseball coach James Thornton. 

The group of young guns and key veterans will take the field for the first time on March 17th against Bolingbrook.  

Naperville Central returns a ton of talent

Now we jump over to the Naperville Central Redhawks, who have been on a serious tear, winning over 40 games in the past two seasons. Frustratingly for Redhawk fans, both campaigns ended with a loss in the regional final. But in 2023, 14 seniors, including many key sluggers, return for Coach Mike Stock, the most ever during his tenure. UIC commit Pambos Nicoloudes and DVC Player of the Year Colin Barczi are two division I players looking to make some serious noise on the field. Clay Schrader, Michael Boyce, Andrew Gallegos, Chris McCormack, and Micahel Umbright will also be prominently featured throughout the Central lineup. They must also find pitching to replace their ace Jack Skidmore on the mound. Even though several players have been through the grind of the varsity season, Coach Stock knows that the boys must continue to step up their games for themselves and their teammates in 2023.  

“As a head coach, you gotta have challenges for them. You need to have something fresh. You need to have something to keep them motivated to get better and to be impactful with themselves, but beyond that, because they need to raise other peoples’ game,” said Naperville Central baseball coach Mike Stock. 

The Redhawks are ready to show off their roster, and that journey begins with Lincoln-Way Central on March 18th. 

Waubonsie Valley fielding a young roster

Let’s jump over to Waubonsie Valley who didn’t have the postseason run they expected after winning the DVC tournament, knocking out strong teams like Naperville Central and Neuqua Valley. The Warriors, unfortunately, ran out of gas in the regional semifinal against Oswego but they know that new opportunities have arrived in 2023. One of the top returning pitchers in the area wears green and gold. Jarron Thompson earned a 3.13 ERA with 71 punchouts in 2022. Blake Pietryk also returns to the Warrior lineup after batting a .327 batting average last season. It will be a young squad this year but the Warriors are up for the challenge. They take a trip to Jacksonville, Illinois, to start off the season in the Jacksonville tournament. 

Metea Valley hoping to make noise

Going up Eola road to Metea Valley baseball country where the Mustangs hope to play like the team that started last season 4-0 and not the one that went 5-16 the rest of the way. To help the cause, this year’s black and gold roster will have some big-time returners back between the lines. Drew Hopkins will be stepping back on the diamond and making plays at first base, along with talented pitcher and outfielder Jeremy Wrona. Mark Golminas, Jayden Malone, Kyle Bucher, Jake Lavine, and Dani Bastidas also return for the Mustangs with a year of valuable varsity experience under their belts. The Mustangs are hoping to make some noise in 2023, and it starts with a road trip to Bartlett on March 22nd. 

Naperville North ready to make a push

Naperville North is another team in search of a bounce-back season in 2023. Although, the Huskies did pick up a key series win over Neuqua Valley and finished third in the DVC regular season. The dogs will have some key returners back; like Tanner Mally, who hit for a .456 average and stole ten bases. One of the few freshman standouts from a season ago, Zach Bava, also returns for the blue and orange, along with senior outfielder Cole Clemens. If the Huskies hope to make a big push this season, it begins with a home matchup against Willowbrook on March 20th. 

Benet Academy preparing for another deep run

Jumping to Lisle with Benet Academy, where the Redwings saw their season end in heartbreaking fashion to Kaneland in the regional final. Before that, Benet started last season 2-8 but battled back to finish the season over .500. The Redwings do return several strong players in seniors Luke Bafia, Sam Sagirac, Cole Rosenthal, and Bradley commit Jake Perrino, who contributes on the mound and at the plate. Juniors Luc Lawler and Marc Izzo will also see more playing time on the mound and in the field. Always a threat to make a run once the post season begins, Scott Lawlers’ ball club begins the 2023 campaign at Oswego on March 21st.

Check out the other previews here!