Men’s Baseball is ready to take a swing at 2016

Spartan Baseball Preview for 2016

Jason Shaw

Cory Bray

The snow has melted, the flowers are about to bloom and Elgin Community College’s men’s baseball team is gearing up for another winning season in 2016.

Last year’s team ranked as high as eighth in the national division II rankings. After an outstanding regular season, the Spartans earned the opportunity to host the regional IV sectional. To their surprise, they endured an early exit by losing back to back games on their home field.

“We had a great year last year that kind of ended too quickly and we want to finish off the season right this year,” said Coach Bill Angelo.

College baseball has the longest season of any college sport. If there aren’t any issues with weather, the team will play 56 games by seasons end. Offseason conditioning begins as soon as the previous season ends and their untimely exit from post season play was used as fuel for motivation this offseason.

“It’s been a more intense offseason, everybody has been coming in working hard every day,” said Kyle Hays freshman infielder from South Elgin High school.

Last year D.J. Varney of West Aurora High school led the team in hitting, maintaining a batting average above 400. Sean Dunn from St. Charles East High school also had a standout offensive year and will be holding down an outfield positions.

“Our team’s depth is very good. We have a lot of battles going on for starting positions. We got a good mix of sophomores and freshman which is always a good thing to have,” said Angelo.

Freshmen Tanner Smith of Burlington Central and Kyle Hays are two of the players looking to fill one of those positions.

“In high school anyone that wants to play can make the team, at this level everyone has talent, I look forward to the competition,” said Tanner.

In sports there’s a saying “defense wins championships” and in baseball the first line of defense is pitching. . “I think our starting pitching will be very solid this year,” said Angelo.

Lead by Andrew Wimberly along with Ryan Sitter (Elgin High), who’s coming off a 7-0 year last year the Spartans should be a force to be recken with at the mound. Other players expected to have standout seasons are Christian Kuzemke who held a 371 batting average last season and Tyler Kalusa who averaged 330 from the plate.

“We’re just expecting great things as always from our program,” said Tyler Kalusa Sophomore outfielder. Many are unaware ECC has produced 21 baseball All-Americans in the last 17 years. Although there are many variables to contribute to that, one can’t ignore the importance of leadership.

“Coach is really good in believing in the kids he recruits trusting us to get the job done and does a good job in getting us prepared,” said Sayre Sophomore pitcher.

Angelo, currently in his 17th season with the Spartans, has created a winning tradition at ECC and currently has a record of 546 wins – 344 losses with a .613 career winning percentage.

Spartan teams under Angelo’s leadership have won six Skyway Conference championships in the last 12 years, 12 Sectional titles in the last 14 years, five Region IV titles, five District titles, in addition to, five NJCAA DII World Series appearances.

“Our goals are for us to try and compete for the conference title again, advance to the regional tournament then the national,” said Angelo.

BaseballWEB2

Jason Shaw

ECC recognizes itself as a leader college. Coach Angelo and the ECC baseball program exemplify the characteristics ECC is trying to promote. They may not be playing in big fancy stadiums or getting paid millions of dollars to do so but quality baseball is being produced on the campus of Elgin Community College.