Prep Baseball Report

1A IHSA State Finals Preview

By Maddox Durst
PBR Illinois & Wisconsin Staff

The IHSA Class 1A semifinals begin Friday at Dozer Park in Peoria, Ill. The semifinals start with a matchup between Brown County and Ottawa Marquette at 10:00 a.m. The second matchup will begin at approximately 12:00 p.m., and features North Clay and LeRoy. 

On Saturday, the third place game is scheduled for 9 a.m. and will be followed by the championship game that will start at approximately 11:30 a.m.

LEROY (24-9)

Despite a 3-3 start at the beginning of the season, the Panthers were able to get hot in April as they went on a 10-game winning streak. In that time, they outscored their opponents 134-21. LeRoy finished the regular season with the record of 19-9, and are currently 24-9. 

This state tournament appearance is the first for both head coach Wayne Meyer and the LeRoy program. Meyer’s been at the helm of the LeRoy program for 25 years, and he’s shaped them into a competitive squad, having won 20-plus games in each of the last seven seasons.

LeRoy will be led by seniors LHP/OF Porter Conn (2022; Lincoln Land CC commit) and OF/RHP Blake Roundtree (2022; McHenry County JC) from the mound and at the plate heading into the 1A tournament. Roundtree flashed a .444 batting average and a 6-2 record as a pitcher. Roundtree led the offense in extra-base hits (17), including three homers and a team-high 10 doubles. From the mound, Roundtree led LeRoy in innings pitched (42), was second in strikeouts (72), and he’s headed to Peoria with an ERA of just 2.83. Conn threw 38 innings for the Panthers, posting a 0.74 ERA while striking out 80 batters and only allowing four earned runs. He also batted .392 and had 40 hits on the year, including 13 that went for extra bases. 

The Panthers will also bring some additional power from senior SS/RHP Tanner Holoch (2022), who tied Roundtree as the team’s home run leader with three of his own, and he drove in a team-high 34 runs this year.

The combination of quality hitters and pitchers for the Panthers will make them a tough out at the state tournament this weekend.


The Cardinals are another team that will be making their program’s first-ever appearance at the IHSA State Tournament. From the start of the season, North Clay was hot and continued to stay hot. They finished 31-6 on the year, and started 14-1. As they enter state, the Cardinals scored 10 runs or more in 21 of their 37 games. 

At the plate, the team features multiple hitters with power, as they stroked 20 home runs over the course of the season. Two of those came from senior OF/LHP Bryton Griffy (2022), who slashed a .416 batting average with 42 hits and 41 RBIs. Fellow seniors INF/RHP Collyn Ballard (2022) and RHP/IF Holden Clifton (2022) added 41 hits apiece this season as well, which included Ballard hitting five home runs and Clifton hitting four. The two were North Clay’s most productive hitters, as they combined for those nine home runs as well as 21 doubles and six triples between them, generating 77 RBIs. Yet, it was actually senior C Brady Ingram (2022) who led the team in RBIs (45), while OF/3B Dakota Weidner (2022) trailed only Ballard for the team’s lead in homers, slugging four of his own.

On the hill, the Cardinals bring in senior RHP/OF Donnie Zimmerman (2022), who led the team in innings pitched (60) and strikeouts (56), and he posted an impressive 1.28 ERA that helped produce a 10-0 record as a starting pitcher. Senior RHP/1B Carson Burkett (2022) is another two-way threat on this team, who finished with a 7-3 record, and pitched 53 innings for North Clay, maintaining an ERA of 2.91 and he drove in 34 runs while hitting .337 this spring.

The Cardinals’ two senior pitchers and the team’s potent offense will be relied upon as they look to win their program’s first state championship in their first state tourney berth.


The Hornets dominated for the beginning part of the season, as they only suffered one loss through the months of March and April. Brown County struggled at the end of the season, losing three out of their final five regular season games, but they’ve obviously rebounded since. They’ve been hot in the playoffs, as their pitching staff has only allowed eight runs in five games.

Three two-way players shouldered the majority of the workload for Brown County in 2022: OF/RHP Gabriel Blakeley (2022), 1B/LHP Mason Henry (2022), and SS/RHP Colby Wort (2023). While they were arguably the team’s most productive hitters, they helped the Hornets score back-to-back shutouts in their first two playoff games and then prevented their next three opponents from scoring more than four runs.

Blakeley and Henry are team leaders on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball for the Hornets. Each has over 40 hits and RBIs, while Henry has the highest batting average on the team with a .444. On the mound, Blakeley leads the team in wins and innings with nine and 58 respectively. Henry finished with an ERA of 1.00, went 7-0, and struck out 64 batters in 42 innings. The junior shortstop Wort hit .425 this spring with 10 extra-base hits, and he accounted for 35 innings on the mound and is entering Peoria with a 2.60 ERA.

Additionally, OF Sam Carr (2023) and 3B Will Groesch (2023) are also names to look out for on the Hornets’ offense this weekend. Carr tied Blakeley and Henry for the team-high in doubles (12) and he was third on the team with 36 RBIs. Groesch hit .351 himself this spring and drove in 23 runs of his own

The Hornets and head coach Jared Hoots will look to make some noise at their first-ever state tournament appearance.


The 2019 IHSA Class 1A champions are making a return to Dozer Park this weekend. This year marked another successful season for head coach Todd Hopkins and the Crusaders, as they enter state with a 31-3 record. They won their first 15 games of the season and they haven’t lost since May 9. Coach Hopkins has molded this program into one of the region’s best since he took over in 1998, and this will be his fourth trip to the state tournament during that span – and third since 2018.

The 2022 Crusaders feature multiple quality hitters in their lineup. Freshman IF/P Sam Mitre (2025) led the way with 46 hits and a .469 batting average. OF/IF Brady Ewers (2022) and 1B Beau Ewers (2022) have each raised their batting average above .400, along with juniors OF Gabe Almeda (2023) and 2B Tommy Durdan (2023). 

The Crusaders get it done as a pitching staff too. 

They feature four pitchers who have all had similar seasons up to this point. Junior RHP/OF Taylor Waldron (2023) led the staff in wins with 10, and had the lowest ERA at 0.98. Junior RHP/IF Aidan Thompson (2023) threw the most innings, and struck out 86 batters with a 1.75 ERA. Junior RHP/SS Logan Nelson (2023) and sophomore RHP/IF Carson Zellers (2024) each threw quality innings for the Crusaders during the season, as they combined to strike out 99 batters and only walked 24.

Waldron, specifically, is a player our staff has seen a couple times earlier in the year, and we came away impressed upon both viewings. His work at our Preseason All-State event showcased a velocity hike (T90 mph) that complements his already present feel to pitch, which he demonstrated again during a cold, rainy outing in April against a 2A state-bound Joliet Catholic program.

The Crusaders are a younger team, with only five seniors that will leave them next year. Their youth will be tested in Peoria this weekend, but their talent can back it up.