New faces, competition key to Benedictine baseball success
February 22, 2010
Phil Brozynski, Media Relations Manager
You will not be able to tell the players without a scorecard when the Benedictine University baseball team takes the field in 2010.
Only a handful of starters return from last year’s 22-20 team (14-8 in the Northern Athletics Conference) that was swept out of the NAC post-season tournament by back-to-back losses to Concordia University Chicago and Rockford College. Fewer than half of the leading candidates for starting roles this spring are letterwinners.
“The three characteristics of this team are that we have a lot of new faces, we have a lot of competition for jobs, and we have a good blend of youth and veterans,” said veteran coach John Ostrowski, who begins his 39th year at the reigns of the Benedictine baseball team.
“This is an exciting group to work with,” he added. “We have some good young talent and some good depth in the pitching rotation.”
Junior Jake Thompson (Woodridge, Ill., Downers Grove South H.S.) is expected to lead the pitching staff after making 10 starts in 2009 and posting a 4-4 record with a 4.92 ERA. Thompson’s ERA ballooned nearly 2 full points over the previous year, when he was named the NAC’s “Freshman of the Year.”
“Last year, Jake started off very well in Florida, but then he seemed to struggle with his control,” Ostrowski said. “He did not have the year we think he is capable of. We are looking for Jake to revert back to the form he showed as a freshman.”
Senior David Flott (Hoffman Estates, Ill., Driscoll Catholic H.S.) returns to the rotation after sitting out the 2009 campaign following Tommy John surgery. Flott was 1-1 with a 4.07 ERA in five appearances in 2008. Opponents hit just .247 against him.
Other pitchers in the picture are junior left-hander Louis Soto (Chicago, Ill., St. Rita Catholic H.S.), a transfer from Kishwaukee Junior College; senior James Callahan (Downers Grove, Ill., Downers Grove South H.S.); junior left-hander Adam Franson (Hometown, Ill., Evergreen Park H.S.); and sophomore Nick DePaul (Niles, Ill., Maine South H.S.).
Also in the mix are senior Dan Jedlowski (Chicago, Ill., St. Laurence Catholic H.S.); freshman Shay Wagner (Elmhurst, Ill., York Community H.S.); freshman Kevin Crowley (Chicago, Ill., DeLaSalle Institute); and freshman Michael Cottier (Lake Michigan Catholic H.S.).
Callahan, who has been in the rotation every year since he was a freshman, was 2-4 with a 4.47 ERA in nine starts in 2009. DePaul, who was named to the NAC All-Freshman team, was 3-2 with a 4.81 ERA in nine appearances. Franson started three games and was 2-0 with a 5.01 ERA.
Jedlowski is coming off a tough year (1-0, 6.52 ERA), but is expected to anchor the bullpen as the team’s closer.
As a staff, Benedictine pitchers allowed 277 runs in 2009. However, only 203 of those runs were earned. Contributing to the Eagles’ woes was an infield that committed 50 errors on the left side and a team that finished the season with a .931 fielding percentage.
However, Ostrowski believes the infield situation will be much improved in 2010 through competition and the addition of some talented newcomers.
Fanning Ostrowski’s optimism is the return of sophomore second baseman Tony DeMartino (St. Charles, Ill., St. Charles East H.S.), who was named to the NAC All-Freshman Team. DeMartino moved into the regular lineup 16 games into the season and responded by hitting .347 with eight doubles and 25 RBI. He also had 59 putouts and 55 assists.
Sophomore Nick Metzler (Crystal Lake, Ill., Crystal Lake South H.S.) and junior Adam Leroy (Aurora, Ill., Waubonsie Valley H.S.) are battling for the nod at first base. Metzler hit .276 in 2009 with two home runs and 17 RBI. Leroy pitched in 2009 but experienced arm trouble that necessitated a return to first base where he starred in high school.
Two freshmen who were all-conference selections as high school seniors are vying for the nod at shortstop – Nick Karakosta (Addison Trail, Ill., Addison Trail H.S.) and Mike Loni (Chicago, Ill., Fenwick Catholic H.S.) – while senior Derek Klinetobe (Roselle, Ill., Lake Park H.S.) and freshman Tim Gindville (New Lenox, Ill., Lincoln-Way Central H.S.) are locked in a battle for the start at third.
Handing the bulk of the catching chores will be Gino Miglio (Chicago, Ill., DeLaSalle Institute). Miglio is not only a star on the field, batting .338 last season with 18 RBI and a .419 on-base percentage, he epitomizes the term “student-athlete” by carrying a 4.0 GPA in the classroom while pursuing a pre-med curriculum.
“Gino is a leader and the quarterback on the team,” Ostrowski said. “He is an all-around quality kid and a good player.”
However, with a schedule that is pregnant with doubleheaders, Miglio will need an occasional breather. Backing up Miglio will be junior Nick Perry (Burr Ridge, Ill., Hinsdale South H.S.) and freshman Tom Higgins (Chicago, Ill., Marist Catholic H.S.).
Benedictine will feature an entirely revamped outfield thanks to the additions of a pair of transfer students – junior Josh Zenawick (Saint Joseph’s College, Rensselaer, Ind.) and freshman Kevin Hendricks (Mundelein, Ill., Carmel Catholic H.S.) – the return of two seniors from injury and the addition of some talented transfers and freshmen.
Zenawick, who played his high school ball at Marist Catholic High School on Chicago’s south side, was named one of the team’s captains after a stellar fall on the field and in the weight room.
“He was so impressive in the fall, not only as a player but as a leader,” Ostrowski said. “We made him one of our captains, which is very rare for a transfer student.”
Other players to watch in the outfield are junior Kyle Rathbun (Palos Heights, Ill., Shepard H.S.), junior Mitch McMeen (Streator, Ill., Streator Twp. H.S.), senior Colin Gilreath (Westmont, Ill., Downers Grove South) and senior Dan Glennon (Darien, Ill., Montini Catholic H.S.).
McMeen hit .324 with a .529 slugging percentage in limited duty last year, while Rathbun returns to the outfield after playing infield out of necessity in 2009.
“Kyle played out of position last year,” Ostrowski said. “We moved him back to his natural position and he had a very good summer and fall. We look forward to him turning things around.”
Senior co-captain Kevin Ross (Lake Zurich, Ill., Lake Zurich H.S.) is the leading candidate to fill the designated hitter role. Ross hit .286 last year with one home run and 17 RBI.
“Kevin is a veteran who gives this team direction and leadership,” Ostrowski said.
Ostrowski , who has won 869 games during his 38 seasons as coach, will be seeking his 17th conference title and eighth NCAA tournament berth in 2010. However, the Northern Athletics Conference schedule presents a profound challenge because of its 36-innings-in-48-hours weekend format.
“Depth, especially in the pitching staff, is key to being successful in the conference,” Ostrowski said. “The conference is very demanding with the travel and the nine-inning, back-to-back doubleheaders. But this team is built to be successful in the conference with our stable of quality arms.
“This should be an exciting team,” he added. “I can’t wait for the season to get started.”
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Benedictine University is an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago. Founded in 1887, Benedictine provides 56 undergraduate majors, 16 graduate and four doctorate programs. The Chronicle of Higher Education
recently ranked Benedictine University as the seventh fastest-growing campus among private nonprofit master’s universities, and Forbes
magazine named Benedictine among the top 20 percent of America’s colleges for 2011. Benedictine University’s Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain’s Chicago Business
as the fourth largest in the Chicago area in 2011.