With some depth on the roster, the Moraine Valley Community College baseball team projects an exciting 2012 season with improvements and big strides over last year.
"I'm excited about this team," said head coach Tom Radz. "On top of having a really good group of guys, we improved on both sides of the ball from last year. We will be much more sound defensively, and I'm really looking forward to what we can do on the offensive end."
The Cyclones said farewell to All-Conference pitcher Austin Wallace (Lincoln-Way East) who is now playing for Coastal Carolina University, but welcomed back sophomore All-Conference shortstop Joe Rigg (Sandburg).
Rigg will lead a freshmen-heavy infield, but will be joined by fellow sophomore Steve Brewer (Notre Dame) at second base, while freshmen and Lincoln-Way North grads Brandon Collins and Alex Eaton will round out the infield at first and third base, respectively. Sophomore Gerard Maslanka (Shepard) will fill the utility infielder role while sophomore Kevin Oliver (Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences) will play at first base and in the outfield.
The Cyclones return one starting outfielder in David Loomis (Shepard) who will see action in left field. Loomis will be joined by sophomores Scott Petrovich (Fort Lauderdale) in center field and Jake Murray (Downers Grove) in right field. Murray, a team captain, also will be part of the Cyclone bullpen.
Catcher Mario Hernandez (Homewood-Flossmoor) will be a starter for the Cyclones, but will split time with Petrovich. They will be backed up by sophomore Jordan Flores (De La Salle).
While no clear number one pitcher has been established for the Cyclone staff, there will be competition for that spot among starting pitchers like sophomores Jeff Baude (Tinley Park), Alex Leschkies (Oak Forest), Sean Vergara (Coral Glades), and lone freshman Bob Wilmsen (Lockport) for the role. The bullpen will be rounded out by John Smith (Evergreen Park), Rigg, Murray, Petrovich, as well as freshmen Dominick Paolella (Lincoln-Way North) and Mike Kozlowski (Shepard).
"While last year's staff had a clear leader in Wallace, there is no clear ace on this team," Radz said. "That's not necessarily a bad thing because we have much more depth on this pitching staff, and I expect to improve off of our good pitching last season.
"While this season will be tough mentally because of the number of away games on our schedule, I think the maturity of this club is its most important asset as we go forward," Radz said. "Every year we seem to get rid of the more selfish guys who are headaches and we bring in more quality individuals who are focused on team goals. This team is focused on what we can do as unit and that's what really excites me."