Chicago, IL – The 2013 Illinois Tech baseball campaign begins with high hopes for a bright future.
This Hawks team brings a very unique dynamic of experience and excitement, fielding a team built with five seniors, five freshmen and six sophomores. The balance of age and maturity on the team gives the Hawks a depth of range on all levels. The returners will focus on mentoring and developing the underclassmen in an effort to build a strong, consistent team for this year and beyond.
Pitching will be the key to success for the 2013 squad, relying on the return of six key pitchers. Senior Jack Kosar of Lake in the Hills, IL (Marian Central HS) returns after winning a Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) Gold Glove in 2012 for his defensive performance on the mound. Kosar takes the field this year following a standout season capped with both a team-low earned run average (6.05) and opponent batting average (.241) over 38.2 innings in 2012. Fellow senior hurler John Rotella of Sugar Grove, IL (Sugar Grove HS) will see the spotlight often this season when coming from the bullpen, bringing 34.2 innings of work from last season. Jesus Sanchez of La Haciada, Mexico (Pendelton School) will be a key contributor and source of improvement again this season as in years past, following 42.1 innings with a 6.17 earned run average in 2012.
Younger pitchers will also play a big role in the Hawks' 2013 success. Sophomore Andrew Gustafson from NIles, IL (Notre Dame HS) brings the team's second highest innings-pitched total of 2012 (45) and strikeouts (27) to the field from his freshman season. Starting catcher Michael Malfeo, a sophomore from Orland Park, HS (Carl Sandburg HS) may see some time on the hill in 2013 after facing one batter and recording a strikeout last season.
The addition of three very promising players to the pitching staff is a highlight for the 2013 squad. First year players Kyle Bledsoe of Plainfield, IL (Plainfield North HS), Matthew Bishop of New Lenox, IL (Lincoln Way West HS) and Conner Wiebell of Cincinnati, OH (Deer Park HS) add an element of energy to the pitching crew. Balanced by the experience and depth of the upperclass, our Scarlet Hawk pitchers look to continue to improve while building on the solid foundation set forth in previous years.
On the field, the Hawks showcase a strong set of hitters and fielders. Jonathan Celestino, a senior from Ontario, Canada (Sir Frederick Banting HS) returns to the heart of the order, after leading the 2012 team in batting average (.341), total at bats (135), hits (46) and doubles (11). Sophomore speedster Ryan Fitzpatrick of Chicago, IL (Mt. Carmel HS) looks to stay at the top of the batting order, using his quickness to his advantage. In 2012, Fitzpatrick ranked third on the team in batting, hitting .296 and going 12-for-12 in stolen bases. Michael Malfeo also looks to again compete in a middle of the order power spot, leading the team with 5 home runs in 2012.
The Scarlet Hawks bring a strong defensive roster to the field in 2013. Catcher Michael Malfeo earned a conference-leading 1.000 fielding percentage from behind the plate in 2012. The compact, yet complete roster will enjoy considerable playing time this season, a perfect situation to allow for continued development. Returning senior Kevin Glennon of Darien, IL (Montini Catholic HS) appeared in 33 games with over 100 at bats in 2012 and will continue to star as a utility player for the team. Bill Cronin, a sophomore from Orland Park, IL (Carl Sandburg HS) contributed last year with a batting average of .265 in 29 games. Fellow sophomore Malik Alim of Springfield, IL (Illinois Math & Science Academy) was used off the bench in 20 games last year and will continue to improve with his playing time on the field.
Newcomers dot the Hawks field lineup with incredible passion, led by freshman shortstop Austin Boos from Indianapolis, IN (Cathedral HS). Boos will be one of the team's cornerstones moving forward, prepared with a will to win and the fight to be 100% prepared every day. A team motivator, Boos is both a top student and athlete, and is committed to making sure that the entire squad is on their top game all season. Head Coach Scott Marks is encouraged by Boos' mentality, saying "Austin is one of those kids that you would want to build a program around. He's a 4.0 student and is the hardest worker on the field as well."
Other highlights of the incoming class include Sam Pung, a freshman from Ludington, MI (Ludington HS) and sophomore Alex Babusci from Niles, IL (Benedictine University). Pung carries a strong bat and will see considerable time at third base for the Hawks. A native of upper Michigan, Pung has a strong work-ethic and passion for the task. Babusci's transfer from Benedictine University will allow him to excel academically and athletically at IIT.
Changes on the coaching staff are also part of the 2013 Scarlet Hawks. Head coach Scott Marks enters his first year at IIT following four seasons as an assistant at Purdue-North Central. Marks' collegiate career included playing time at Grand Rapids Community College, LeMoyne College and Purdue-North Central. During his time as a coach at PNC, Marks led the pitching staff to a school record 3.78 earned run average in 2011. Marks also brings new energy and a strong skills base to the Scarlet Hawks, as well as experience at a fellow CCAC university.
First year assistant coach Jeremy McDonald is also a bright addition to the Hawks leadership. McDonald assists primarily with the pitching staff and focuses heavily on recruitment of new talent. McDonald is a graduate of Chicago's Lane Technical High School and played collegiate baseball at Oakton Community College, where he was a standout pitcher. McDonald also spent two seasons playing Independent League baseball with the Tennessee Stars after college. He aspires to be a head collegiate baseball coach one day and is an engaged, prepared leader for the squad.
The 2013 Scarlet Hawks baseball team looks to make positive strides very early on. "We may have a very young squad and a small roster but we know what we are capable of and now it is time for us to go out and prove it." said new head coach Scott Marks. "We want other teams to look past us because that will give us an advantage. I just want our men to look back on their collegiate baseball career and have no regrets, for them to know they did everything in their control to work hard and get better. That is one of the values we teach so that they can leave here and succeed in all other ways of life."
The 2013 season opener will take place in Tucson, AZ at the Tucson Invitational, with game one of a doubleheader on Sunday March 3rd at 10:00 am against William Penn University of Iowa. An annual spring trip, the Tucson Invitational allows the Hawks take on multiple opponents from all over the country.
Conference play will resume after the team returns to Chicago, visiting Robert Morris College in Bensenville, IL on Friday March 15th for a 4:00 pm start, followed by a doubleheader the next day, Saturday March 16th at 12:00 pm against Robert Morris for the team's home opener. Fans are encouraged to come out and show your Scarlet pride at Ed Glancy Field. Looking into the 2013 season, Coach Marks remarked "We have a great chance to do something special this year."
IIT will also be bringing back the South Side Classic at US Cellular Field on Tuesday May 7th at 3:00 pm. We hope all of you can come out and grab a seat in the big stadium to watch the Hawks take on Maranatha Baptist Bible College of Wisconsin. Tickets are free and parking is free for the event.