Friday, April 3, 2009

Blake O'Brien - Glenbard West Ace Pitcher

Blake O'Brien - Center
Glen Ellyn, IL -
When the Glenbard West baseball team took the field last spring, it was a young and fairly inexperienced group on the diamond.
Now a year later, a more experienced and talented Hilltopper squad is looking to improve on the 2009 results. On top of the experience, deep pitching and a mix of power and speed in the lineup are added assets.
“The seniors this year got a lot of playing time last year and I’m hoping it’s going to pay off,” Glenbard West coach Brian Wojtun said. “I like everything I’ve seen so far on the mound. The seniors and juniors have had success and we’re looking for them to carry it into this year.”
Wojtun will have plenty of options to choose from in the bullpen with 13 arms available. Blake O’Brien, Dave Martz and Will Caspers will be counted on at the top of the rotation, while third-year varsity player Bryan Emanuel also will be in the mix.
“(Thirteen pitchers) is the most we’ve had and they will all have a chance to contribute early on,” Wojtun said. “I’m excited to see what they can do early and get some experience before we get into the conference.”
Backing up the pitchers is a bit more of a question mark. Returning shortstop Jessie Condie, who signed with Northern Michigan to play football, is the best position player. Will Kruzen, Caspers, Dylan Rheault, Drew Blane and Chris Kavanaugh are other infielders, while Joey Wheeler is back behind the plate.
Emmanuel, Nick Morley and Andy Anderson started the season in the outfield.
“The ability is there (on defense), but we have to stay consistent,” Wojtun said.Offensively, Emmanuel got off to a good start, while Wojtun said designated hitter Jordan Rock made some strides over the summer.“We have an interesting mix in our lineup,” Wojtun said. “We have some guys who especially have power and will get those extra bases, and we have some kids that can definitely steal some bases.”
With an early start to the West Suburban Silver season, the Hilltoppers kick things off on Saturday against defending champion Oak Park-River Forest, which also finished second at state.
It is a rigorous conference schedule with limited breaks along the way. Downers Grove North and Hinsdale Central also are expected to be tough, Lyons Township has won or shared four of the last seven WSS titles and York is coming off back-to-back 22-win seasons.
“Obviously we want to try and win the conference,” Wojtun said, “and to do that we have to start tomorrow (March 25) at our first game and keep getting better.”
Also highlighting the schedule this season is the annual crosstown game against Glenbard South, which will be played at Elfstrom Stadium in Geneva.
“I know the kids really get excited for that one,” Wojtun said. “They make more out of it then I think the coaches do, but it’s a great game for the community and I really like the game.”

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