CHRISTIAN BOLHUIS, Chicago Christian, P, Jr.
• With 23 varsity wins already banked, Bolhuis is on track to become the Knights’ all-time victories leader in 2015 as he trails record holder Trent Overzet by just six. His 2014 pitching numbers on the Knights’ behalf were almost off the charts — his 100 whiffs topped all area hurlers, and he did that while throwing only 64 1/3 innings and walking just 19 batters. The Suburban Christian Conference Player of the Year posted an 8-3 ledger, allowed 35 hits, sported a minuscule 1.20 earned-run average and held opposing hitters to a meager .146 cumulative average. Bolhuis, the son of Knights football coach Jim Bolhuis, became just the third Chicago Christian baseball player ever named to the all-state team, joining Mike Kamp (2012) and Bob Schaaf (1990). Offensively, this paper’s Player of the Year chipped in a .326 average, .415 on-base percentage, 24 runs, 23 RBI and nine doubles. Bolhuis will be the Knights’ starting quarterback for the third season in a row this fall.
SHAWN CHIARAMONTE, Richards, OF, Sr.
• In a Bulldogs lineup loaded with heavy hitters, Chiaramonte swung one of the most potent sticks. His statistics included team-leading figures of 46 hits, 34 RBI and 16 doubles, plus a .418 average and .645 slugging percentage, the latter of which ranked second among regulars. Chiaramonte, who also served as Richards’ place-kicker last fall, augmented those offensive numbers with the following: .472 on-base percentage, 27 runs, 11 walks and three homers. He plans to play both baseball and football at North Central College.
MATTHIAS DIETZ, Sandburg, P, Sr.
• Overshadowed at the start by Division I recruits Bryan Pall (University of Michigan) and Sean Leland (Louisville), Dietz emerged as the Eagles’ staff ace, at least in a statistical sense. His ERA couldn’t quite equal Pall’s 0.67 mark, but Dietz was no slouch with his tidy 0.84 effort. And the latter was Sandburg’s biggest winner with eight victories in nine opportunities, one of which came on a season-opening no-hitter versus Oak Lawn. He also one-hit Glenbard South in early May. Dietz converted both of his save opportunities and struck out 87 batters in 66 2/3 innings. Making the strikeout total stand out even more was Dietz’s stinginess when it came to giving up free bases — he boasted an outstanding 7-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio.
ANDREW DYKE, Brother Rice, OF, So.
• Having gotten a taste of varsity play as a freshman, Dyke was ready to roll right from the start of the 2014 campaign and he did his fair share to help the Crusaders seriously challenge for the Chicago Catholic League Blue title by pacing them in four batting categories: average (.383), hits (44), RBI (34) and runs (30). One-quarter of his hits went for extra bases and he also drew 21 walks. Dyke proved his worthiness elsewhere, too, as he went 7-of-8 as a base stealer and handled 43 defensive chances without mishap. Dyke is no one-sport wonder, either — as a sophomore member of Brother Rice’s football squad, he topped the Crusaders in both unassisted (42) and assisted (23) tackles in 2013 while earning second-team all-area status.
MIKE ENRIQUEZ, Brother Rice, P, Sr.
• With big-reputation pitchers scattered throughout the area this spring, Enriquez may have initially been overlooked by the casual fan. There’s no ignoring his importance to the 2014 Crusaders, however, as Enriquez stepped forward as the main man on a solid staff. Only Sandburg’s Bryan Pall bettered Enriquez’s microscopic 0.68 earned-run average — by .01. The durable Enriquez pitched four complete games and threw two shutouts while compiling an 8-2 record. He struck out 37 batters in 51 1/3 innings.
RICH KAIRIS, Marist, OF, Jr.
• Former RedHawks coach Tom Fabrizio didn’t hesitate to call Kairis the most important cog in an overachieving Marist baseball machine. He showed signs of pitching prowess after being elevated to the varsity as a sophomore in 2013, and Kairis delivered on the hill in a big way this spring as he won six times while carrying a 1.59 ERA over 74-plus innings and holding opposing batters to a meager .218 cumulative average. Although his 38 strikeouts don’t seem like many, that total was still 2 ½ times higher than the amount of walks he issued. Even more important in 2014 was Kairis’ stick, which was quite welcomed in a potency-starved lineup. While Marist registered a team average of just .210, Kairis swung away at a .366 clip and stroked 34 hits, both numbers representing team-best marks. He scored 17 runs, drove in 16 and stole 18 bases in 20 tries.
MIKE KORNACKER, St. Laurence, P, Sr.
• The 2013 Player of the Year very nearly captured that same award again. Although Chicago Christian’s Christian Bolhuis edged him out for it, the Purdue University-bound Kornacker still had a memorable final season for coach Pete Lotus’ winningest club. Kornacker notched eight of those victories in 10 decisions, saved two other wins for the Vikings, fanned 86 batters in only 62 innings and finished with a sparkling 1.35 ERA. He complemented his pitching stats with some impressive offensive ones: a .360 average, .560 slugging percentage, .408 on-base percentage, 45 hits, 43 RBI, 30 runs and 13 walks. Fifteen of Kornacker’s hits went for extra bases — four cleared the fence — and he struck out just nine times in 125 at-bats. Oh, and when he got on base Kornacker was a good bet to advance without benefit of a hit, as demonstrated by his 24 steals in 25 attempts.
MARK MARTIN, Evergreen Park, SS, Jr.
• After spending the past two years as an all-area second-teamer, Martin made the jump up to first team, thanks to a batch of skyrocketing statistics. Already a very reliable performer, Martin became an offensive force in 2014, one whose numbers compared favorably to those of the south suburbs’ premier players. His .472 average, for instance, represented a 129-point increase over his team-high 2013 standard, and his on-base percentage rose from .404 to a staggering .833. Martin’s 52 hits, 35 runs and 28 RBI bettered his previous year’s totals by 17, 12 and 14, respectively, and he posted a .513 slugging percentage. Martin amassed 24 extra-base hits (four homers, 13 doubles, seven triple) and stole 16 bases. Along with his baseball talents, Martin is a top-flight student.
MIKE MASSEY, Brother Rice, 2B, Sr.
• Prior to 2014, nobody really had Massey on the radar, but he became a steady contributor to the Crusaders’ success. He did it both in the field and at the plate, and his defensive efforts may have been the most noteworthy — while playing a demanding position, Massey committed just three errors in 135 chances. In addition to the nifty glove work, Massey provided Brother Rice with a .333 average, 36 hits, 28 runs, 17 RBI and team-best 18 steals in 21 attempts. Five of his hits were doubles and Massey also reached base 23 times via free passes.
COREY MILLER, Evergreen Park, 1B, Sr.
• Following a somewhat nondescript junior season, Miller was anything but a sure thing entering 2014. That changed in dramatic fashion as he became an integral part of a productive Mustangs attack and earned South Suburban Conference Red Player of the Year honors in the process. Miller’s .468 average was just four points below Mark Martin’s team-high showing and he raised it to .471 when runners were in scoring position. Fifteen doubles and 18 extra-base hits in all were part of Miller’s output as he posted an on-base percentage of .490 to go along with 29 RBI and 23 runs scored. Veteran Evergreen coach Mark Smyth said one of his primary summertime goals is to try to discover “the next Corey Miller.”
NATE NATIVIDAD, Richards, 3B, Sr.
• The Dominican University-bound Natividad possessed quite the batting eye, as evidenced by his drawing of 27 bases-on-balls this spring. Along with all those freebies — which were the most for any Richards hitter — Natividad supplied the Bulldogs with a team-best 39 runs, plus 38 hits, 28 RBI, and respective slugging and on-base percentages of .670 and .580. Twelve of his hits went for two bases and he was successful in 6-of-7 steal attempts. Coach Brian Wujcik wasn’t afraid to use Natividad at either of the two positions on the left side of the infield.
TREVOR WOLTERINK, Chicago Christian, DH, So.
• This sophomore did not jinx the Knights in any way; quite the contrary, in fact. After getting his varsity indoctrination in basketball during the winter, Wolterink had long since conquered any jitters and was ready to be a baseball contributor from the get-go. The 2014 campaign ended with Wolterink being Chicago Christian’s leader in average (.355) and hits (39) while ranking second on the team in on-base percentage (.425) and third in runs scored (31). Other batting stats included 19 RBI, 14 walks and five doubles. His defensive improvement can’t be ignored, either — after committing two errors in his first game at third base, Wolterink was guilty of only four more the rest of the season.
BRAD WOOD, St. Laurence, P, Sr.
• A three-year varsity player for the Vikings and three-time selection as an all-area first-teamer, Wood’s absence will be felt by St. Laurence in 2015 as keenly as older brother Kyle’s was a few years earlier. Brad Wood departs the scene after going 7-2 on the mound with a 1.80 ERA, 68 strikeouts and only 14 walks in 58 1/3 innings, and one save. And don’t forget about his batting exploits — Wood delivered a .419 average, .650 slugging percentage, .507 on-base percentage, 49 hits, 45 runs and 27 RBI on the Vikings’ behalf. The Northern Illinois University recruit smacked 18 extra-base hits, got aboard 26 other times either by getting plunked with a pitch or coaxing a walk, and went 24-of-28 in stolen bases. Wood whiffed only seven times in 117 at-bats.
CHARLIE ZESCHKE, Richards, C, Sr.
• The Roosevelt University recruit, a three-year varsity player for the Bulldogs, capped his prep career with a second consecutive all-area-worthy season. This time around he batted .433 with respective slugging and on-base percentages of .635 and .528. Zeschke’s 45 hits included 12 doubles and three homers, he drove in 33 runs and tallied 22 more himself and was walked 18 times. And in more than 100 official at-bats Zeschke almost never failed to put the ball in play as he struck out just six times.
FRANK GRECO, St. Laurence, P, Jr.
• Toiling in anonymity figured to be Greco’s baseball life this spring, seeing as how the Vikings returned aces Mike Kornacker and Brad Wood to their pitching staff and had Alex Hitney penciled in as the No. 3 man. And although none of those athletes disappointed, Greco still managed to carve out a niche for himself. While he didn’t always face the cream of the crop opposition-wise, those teams that did encounter Greco probably wished they hadn’t, given their overall lack of success against him. Greco won every one of his seven pitching decisions and registered an eye-opening 0.36 ERA over 39 innings while accruing a 7-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio (34-5). He will unquestionably be St. Laurence’s go-to guy on the hill in 2015.
KEVIN KNOERZER, Shepard, OF, Sr.
• As happened with a few area squads in 2014, the Astros were far less than an offensive juggernaut. Shepard hit just .276 as a team and only three regulars even reached the .300 plateau. The best of those individuals was Knoerzer, who batted .346 and paced the Astros in hits (36), runs (23) and stolen bases (11). He recorded slugging and on-base percentages of .442 and .423, respectively, and belted one of Shepard’s two homers. Not to be overlooked was Knoerzer’s defensive abilities — he was charged with just one error and logged a team-high .979 fielding percentage.
SEAN LELAND, Sandburg, P, Sr.
• The Eagles have not traditionally lacked for pitching, but 2014 may have been one of their best seasons in regard to depth. Sandburg could deliver an effective 1-2-3 punch from the mound, and part of that was due to the University of Louisville-bound Leland, who went 7-3 with a 1.02 ERA that was, amazingly, the highest among the Eagles’ top three hurlers. Like hill mates Matthias Dietz and Bryan Pall, Leland also built a superb strikeouts-to-walks ratio (4-1; 63-15). His best outing came in Sandburg’s regional semifinal contest against Crete-Monee, which struck out 13 times against Leland and managed only two hits in a 7-1 loss.
ERIC MALLO, Richards, DH, Sr.
• The Bulldogs’ seemingly endless string of productive stick men included Mallo, who played a major role by batting .358 with a .558 slugging percentage and .467 on-base percentage. His 34 hits featured seven doubles, he crossed the plate 33 times and drove in 14 teammates. Mallo also drew 16 walks and had six successful steals. For added impact, he went 4-0 in limited mound duty.
FRANK MEISL, Evergreen Park, P, Sr.
• An offensive lineman for the Mustangs’ playoff-qualifying football team in the fall, Meisl went from opening holes for area rushing leader KeyShawn Carpenter to closing down opposing baseball offenses. Two numbers speak loudly of Meisl’s mound efficiency: his 1.54 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 59 innings. His 6-3 ledger might seem a bit pedestrian, but here’s something to be considered — in two of Meisl’s losses, Evergreen Park plated the grand total of one run.
SHANE MILLS, Richards, 2B, Sr.
• Mills did his part to fuel the Bulldogs’ robust attack by batting a healthy .362 with a .486 slugging percentage and .391 on-base percentage. Ten of his 38 hits were doubles, and he had a hand in 47 runs (25 scored, 22 knocked in). Mills was all about making contact — in 105 at-bats, he was set down on strikes only seven times.
BRYAN PALL, Sandburg, P, Sr.
• Headed for the University of Michigan, Pall took his rightful place among the great hurlers in Eagles history by being almost impossible to score on. His 0.67 ERA was the area’s lowest, and his nearly 10-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio (83-9) was mind-boggling. Those stats spoke volumes for a guy whose 4-2 record suggested someone of more run-of-the-mill capabilities. Pall struck out at least 10 batters in four of his starts, including a season-best 14 against Homewood-Flossmoor. He one-hit Joliet Central and threw three two-hitters, including in an eight-inning affair with eventual SouthWest Suburban Conference Blue champion Lockport.
BOBBY PETERKA, Shepard, C, Jr.
• His .311 average wasn’t awe-inspiring, but it did rank as second-best among Astros regulars. And measuring Peterka’s impact on Shepard’s fortunes solely by that one statistic would be misguided. His .522 slugging percentage topped the Astros, as did his 32 RBI and 14 doubles — the latter, in fact, was two more than his singles total. Peterka supplied Shepard’s other homer, swatted one of the team’s four triples and reached base 15 times without benefit of a hit. His six hit-by-pitches was also a club-high figure. For good measure, Peterka fielded his position at a .966 clip, a percentage that trailed only Kevin Knoerzer’s.
BRANDON QUILLIN, Oak Lawn, SS, Jr.
• The Spartans struggled to find an offensive groove in 2014, but that certainly wasn't due to any shortcomings on Quillin’s part. After batting. 400 last summer, Quillin showed that he could be similarly productive during the longer, more competitive and weather-influenced spring season as he finished with team-best numbers in average (.367), runs (25), RBI (16) and stolen bases (11 in 14 attempts). Quillin stroked 40 hits in all and registered a .461 on-base percentage. He was also difficult to strike out as he did so just seven times in 128 plate appearances.
AJ SANCHEZ, Richards, P, Sr.
• A solid two-way performer for the Bulldogs, Sanchez spearheaded an effective mound corps and did his part for a high-powered Richards attack. As a pitcher, Sanchez lost only one time in six decisions, averaged over a strikeout per inning and posted a 7-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio (48-7), and kept his ERA under three (2.73). Ten of his whiffs were notched in one game. Complementing those stats were the following ones on the offensive end: .421 average, .508 on-base percentage, .570 slugging percentage, 45 hits, team-high 33 runs, 29 RBI, 12 doubles, 18 walks and five steals. Sanchez fanned only 10 times in 107 official at-bats.
CHRIS STEARNS, Sandburg, OF, Sr.
• Sandburg's 2014 success was largely built on the exploits of an outstanding pitching trio, but Stearns made sure the Eagles’ offense was occasionally heard from as well. The former St. Laurence player batted .402 with respective slugging and on-base percentages of .557 and .500. Nine of his 39 hits were doubles, two others cleared the fence, and he totaled 29 RBI and 18 runs. Without question, Stearns was at his best during the week of April 10-17, when he went 13-of-19 over five games versus Homewood-Flossmoor (two), Lincoln-Way West, Minooka and Eisenhower. His output included four two-baggers, a homer and three RBI.
KEVIN WHITE, St. Laurence, OF, Sr.
• In his final year before enrolling at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, White provided the Vikings with dependable play and served as an able accomplice for team ringleaders Mike Kornacker and Brad Wood. His 44 hits tied for third-most among St. Laurence players in 2014 and ranked only five behind Wood’s team-best total, and White used those to compile a .379 average. He also wound up with a .447 on-base percentage, .517 slugging percentage, 38 runs, 30 RBI, 10 doubles, two homers and 14 stolen bases in 16 tries.
ROGER WILSON, St. Laurence, 1B, Sr.
• One of several Vikings who’ll continue his baseball career in the collegiate ranks, Wilson is staying close to home as he plans to attend the University of St. Francis in Joliet. What the Fighting Saints will be getting is someone who was a steady contributor to a St. Laurence program that won 59 games the past two springs. Wilson’s final numbers included a .358 average, . 433 on-base percentage, .520 slugging percentage, 44 hits — 16 for extra bases, including 13 doubles — 36 runs, 31 RBI and 19 steals in 20 attempts. He fanned only nine times in 123 at-bats while drawing 13 free passes.
JAKE WIMMER, Stagg, 3B, Sr.
• Much like Shepard's Kevin Knoerzer and Oak Lawn's Brandon Quillin, Wimmer bucked the odds by posting credible offensive numbers in the midst of his squad’s overall batting malaise. His .340 average, for instance, was 67 points higher than the team mark and made him one of just five Chargers to eclipse the .300 plateau. Wimmer’s on-base and slugging percentages were nearly identical (.369-.368) and his 36 hits also represented a team-best figure. He was third in both RBI (18) and runs scored (16) and committed only 10 errors while manning the always-challenging hot corner.
ERICH LIESER, Brother Rice
BRIAN MUSIELAK, Brother Rice
KEVIN SULLIVAN, Brother Rice
ZACH FRIELING, Chicago Christian
JOSH NOVAK, Chicago Christian
DAN VOS, Chicago Christian
BRIAN PALL, Evergreen Park
ROBERT HOVEY, Marist
MATT DUNNE, Oak Lawn
NOEL CASTRO, Richards
RYAN THOMPSON, Richards
COACH OF THE YEAR
PETE LOTUS, St. Laurence
• Coaches of talented teams rarely get recognized for the roles they play in any accomplishments, but dismissing what the Vikings have done under Lotus’ guidance, both in 2014 and before that, would be hugely unfair. St. Laurence has prospered big-time during Lotus’ tenure, but never more than this spring when it amassed 32 victories while earning a piece of its third Chicago Catholic League Blue championship in four seasons. Overall, the Vikings have averaged 27 wins over Lotus’ nine years in charge, the best sustained run in program history. Lotus also enjoyed success as a player at St. Laurence — in 1994, he was an integral part of a team that placed third at state.