Prep baseball experienced plainfield east looking to take next step the herald-news sugar pine tree

“the biggest thing we’ve talked about as a program over the years is consistency,” said coach adam O’reel, who is 122-119 entering his eighth season. “the wins have increased every year. Our numbers have increased, so kids want to be part of the program. Now, it’s taking that next step. This group has talked about even more and pushing themselves to do more.”

“our three pillars are the three E’s: effort, enthusiasm and execution,” O’reel said. “if we do those three, we are in games, and we can figure it out from there.”

The large contingent of senior returnees also will provide foundational support for the bengals. They include pitchers andrew hoffman, luke lamm and ryan louck, and outfielders jacob havis, dalton crowder and frank bryan. Junior catcher joey fox also returns with plenty of experience.

“we’ve talked to the kids about their roles,” O’reel said.

“there are some battles for positions despite all the seniors we have. Everyone is going to have [an opportunity to earn a starting spot] early in the season to prepare us for the conference season.”

O’reel said

With that many seniors, one would think positions would be locked down. That’s not necessarily the case. Second baseman drew raspolich, who was second on the team in steals a year ago, shortstop dylan carlson and third baseman nick baldassano are penciled in as starters. The rest of the positions are up for grabs, according to O’reel.

“inner competition is good because it pushes you to get better on a day-to-day basis,” O’reel said. “it doesn’t matter what year you are, what position you’ve played the most or how we’ll you’ve done in the past. You have to go with the player who has earned it.”

While fox returns behind the plate, senior matt pratscher was the starter before an injury relegated him to designated hitter a year ago, and junior sean blanchard is on the ready. Fox committed one error all of last year.

Hoffman, louck and lamm look to be at the top of the bengals’ rotation. Hoffman and louck combined to beat plainfield south in the regional final, while lamm went 5-3 with a 2.85 ERA in 2017.O’reel said seniors billy pierce, daniel balzhiser, ethan flynn, liam ritten, cameron erickson and jacob kerkstra may be called on to get outs.

“we have a lot of guys we have confidence on the mound,” O’reel said. “they have to understand their value and take the selfishness out of the mix.”

Seniors bryan, crowder, havis and sean hebreard seem to be frontrunner’s to man the outfield. Bryan belted a team-best three home runs, while crowder (20 rbis) and havis

(20 runs) were key offensive contributors. Juniors jason scott and tyler wason also are capable outfielders. Juniors caleb anderson, sean rivera and steve proutsos round out the roster.

“the hitting is going to come and go,” O’reel said. “our defense and pitching have to be there, and we preach that. We don’t want to beat ourselves. The game is hard enough as it is when you don’t beat yourself. Errors, walks and mental mistakes we try to limit as much as possible.”

“we still haven’t won a conference, but we don’t set goals like that,” O’reel said.O’reel said “if we do the right things and don’t give up freebies, wins will take care of themselves.”