Written by Ken Karson
2013 Record: 16-14.
Head coach: Bill Gerny.
Assistant coaches: Chris Bohanek, Nick Chigas, Gary Gudino.
• Who’s gone: Bob Kametas, P/3B; Chris Rafacz, OF; Marcin Krzysiak, 1B; Billy Thome, C; Lee Baxa, P.
• Who’s back: Matt Dunne, 3B/P, Sr. (.361; 2.81 ERA); Mitch Swatek, 1B, P, Sr. (2.51 ERA; .382 in summer); Kevin Zurek, 2B, Sr. (.333); Brandon Quillin, SS/P, Jr. (.400 in summer); Matt Witkowski, OF/P, Jr. (1-0, 1.17 ERA in summer); Jake Slusinski, OF, Sr.
• Who’s new: Joe Dodaro, 1B/3B, Jr. (.364, 16 RBI for sophomore team); Ryne Melnik, OF, Jr. (.359, 17 RBI for sophomore team); John Roberts, C, So.; Justin Swatek, INF/OF/P, So.
• Outlook: Bill Gerny enjoyed quite the varsity-coaching debut, as the Spartans rewarded him with a somewhat unexpected South Suburban Conference Red title. Oak Lawn’s 2013 edition could not be classified as a dominant club, but it certainly was a resilient one as it beat back challenges from several teams to claim the top divisional spot.
The Spartans struggled somewhat against their nonconference competition last spring, but instead of lightening the load, Gerny plans to run his squad through an even stiffer gauntlet in 2014, one featuring St. Rita, St. Laurence, Lyons Township, Maine South, Sandburg, Brother Rice, De La Salle and three of the four Lincoln-Way schools among the formidable foes. Clearly, Gerny understands the value of testing Oak Lawn early and often in order to prepare it for another shot at SSC Red supremacy and perhaps some greater postseason success.
He’s placing these hurdles in front of his guys even though the Spartans have some rebuilding to do. It’s not so much quantity as quality that must be replaced — conference Player of the Year Bob Kametas, Oak Lawn’s unquestioned on-field leader a season ago, and all-conference selection Marcin Krzysiak are two major graduation-induced losses. Kametas will be missed both as a pitcher and everyday player, but the Spartans still have the makings of a solid staff in Kametas’ absence.