Prep Baseball Report

4A IHSA State Playoffs Preview

By: Diego Solares
Area Scout, Illinois & Missouri

The field is set for the 4A IHSA state playoffs, held this Friday and Saturday at Duly Health & Care Field in Joliet, Illinois. 

This year’s ‘Final Four’ will feature Brother Rice, Edwardsville, New Trier, and York, with those four clubs making the trip with a state championship on their minds. 

It all starts on Friday at 3:00 PM, with Edwardsville squaring off against York, followed by Brother Rice and New Trier around 5:00 PM. Saturday’s third-place game will take place at 3:00 PM, with the championship set to follow. 

We’ll have extensive coverage of these games, as well as the 4A playoffs happening simultaneously, this weekend on our Twitter, @PBRIllinois.

Below, you’ll learn more about this field of teams that’ll be battling it out for this year’s state championship.


Brother Rice navigated their way through one of the state’s more difficult playoff paths to find themselves playing in Joliet now for back-to-back years. They took down Mt. Carmel in their regional championship, then defeated Lyons Township and St. Rita in the sectional, culminating in a walk-off win over Lincoln-Way East for the Super-Sectional.

This Crusaders’ club is a mix of experienced seniors and talented youngsters that have grown as a unit throughout the year. They’re battle tested, having gone through a difficult all-around schedule this spring, including multiple battles with high-end teams out of state. Two senior bats headline this group: OF Bryce Nevils (2023; Western Kentucky) and 1B Amir Gray (2023; Purdue). Nevils is a dynamic do-it-all type of producer that’s capable of creating run opportunities in multiple different avenues. He’s batting .352 on the year and leads this team in hits (45), runs scored (41), and RBIs (35), doubling 12 times with six home runs, too. Gray’s not too far behind and he consistently puts together competitive at-bats, bringing a .345 batting average with 11 doubles and 24 RBIs to Joliet this weekend.

Randall Nauden (2024) is a physical right-handed bat that delivered the game-winning hit in Monday’s Super-Sectional who is hitting .305 with 10 doubles and three home runs. Sophomores Jackson Natanek (2025) and Gavin Triezenberg (2025) are two more names that are having strong seasons at the plate. They’re both hitting over .330 and they’ve each driven in 20+ runs while also playing silky-smooth defense up the middle.

Turning to the mound, the Crusaders’ have a true ace in Purdue signee Cole Van Assen (2023). He’s hurled 71 innings this spring, pitching to a 1.97 ERA, and striking out 81 batters while walking just 15. Aside from him, Brother Rice’s inning workload is spread out through a handful of arms. All five of Trent Guzek (2023; Elmhurst), Casey Giemzik (2024), Tadgh Callaghan (2025), Danny Sheehan (2025), and Jackson Natanek (2025) have all thrown 20+ innings, while Aiden O’Hara (2023; Loras) has fallen just short of that benchmark (17 IP), though he’s posted a 1.24 ERA with 18 strikeouts in that span.


The reigning state champions are back in Joliet again for a state-record 18th time. Edwardsville has reached these state playoffs eight times under head coach Tim Funkhouser, who just won his 800th career game, and the Tigers have won the state title twice under Funkhouser’s lead.

A large chunk of last year’s core returns this spring, including the middle of their order, which is a relentless group that doesn’t make for an easy out each time they stride up to the plate. Cole Funkhouser (2023; Central Missouri) sets the table from the top of the lineup, batting .380 with nine doubles, two triples, and five home runs, while leading the Tigers in hits (52) and runs scored (52). Aside from his efforts on the hill, Joe Chiarodo (2025; Alabama) is a formidable offensive threat as well, batting .333 on the year with nine extra-base hits.

The 3-4-5 hitters have been the Tigers’ main run producers all spring. They’re all left-handed and, combined, have driven in 123 runs, starting with Riley Iffrig (2023; Indiana State), who’s 51 RBIs leads this unit. Iffrig has been a middle-of-the-order bat for the Tigers for a large chunk of his high school career, and he’s batting .377 on the year with seven doubles and eight home runs. Caeleb Copeland (2023; St. Charles CC) hits cleanup and routinely makes for one of the toughest at-bats in the state. He leads the Tigers’ in batting average (.400) and has brought home 40 runs on 42 hits, doubling 10 times with two home runs. Andrew Hendrickson (2023; Lincoln Land CC) typically hits fifth and has really found his stride down the stretch with nine doubles, two home runs, and 32 RBIs.

Edwardsville has even more impact-type bats down their order. Lucas Huebner (2024), who’s primarily been their starting catcher all spring, is hitting .327 with 30 RBIs. Kayden Jennings (2023; Illinois-Springfield) is a real up-the-middle asset with the glove and he’s doubled 10 times on the year, batting .333 with 26 RBIs. Lucas Krebs (2025) saw success in his first full season at the varsity level, bouncing around both the outfield and infield with a .311 average on the year.

The Tigers have a formidable one-two punch at the top of their rotation in Logan Geggus (2023; St. Louis) and the aforementioned Chiarodo. Geggus owns a 10-0 record in 49 innings this spring, pitching to a 2.14 ERA with 71 strikeouts under his belt. Chiarodo has been absolutely nails on the hill, allowing just seven earned runs (0.98 ERA) over 50 innings, punching out 65 in that span. Aside from those two, the Tigers’ have gotten positive contributions from Hendrickson and Alec Marchetto (2024), while youngsters Hunter Baugh (2026) and Anthony Eberlin (2026; TCU) have impressed in brief workloads.

NEW TRIER (29-7)

Another storied program in Illinois, the Trevians are back in the state playoffs for the first time since 2017. Leading this group is legendary coach Mike Napoleon, who became the state’s all-time win leader this season (966) and has made six previous trips to state as the leader of New Trier, including a championship in 2000.

The strength of the Trevians is their offense, as New Trier has multiple tough outs scattered throughout their lineup, starting with a trio of seniors that are all producing in the final years of their prep careers: Graham Mastros (2023; St. Louis), Dylan Mayer (2023; Manhattan), and Brenden Stressler (2023; St. Louis). Mastros leads this bunch in batting average (.380) and he’s supplied some thump too, totaling 11 extra-base hits, including five home runs. Mayer is another powerful bat in this lineup, thumping nine doubles and homering six times to go along with a .372 batting average and 35 RBIs. Then there’s Stressler, who’s one of the state’s top 2023 prospects and has shown that status throughout the spring. He leads the Trevians in RBI (38), doubles (11), and he’s homered five times, his most recent an absolute towering walk-off shot in the sectional semi-final, with a .367 batting average. 

Aside from those three, the Trevians have a handful of other bats that have been key for them throughout the spring. James Novakovic (2024; Purdue) brings plenty of value with his glove, though the left-handed hitting shortstop has a .310 batting average and has scored 24 runs in 87 at-bats. Aidan Nolan (2024) is another junior with regular playing time that’s performed well throughout the spring, while sophomores Trey Meyers (2025) and Ben Toft (2025) are two more names to know in this offense.

Two junior arms make up a bulk of the Trevians’ innings this spring: Max Kaplan (2024) and Justin Wood (2024). Kaplan, who’s 8-1 on the year, holds a 1.23 ERA over 57 innings of work. He consistently pounds the zone, fanning 56 with just 10 walks allowed. Wood has thrown 45 innings for New Trier, punching out 54 with a 2.64 ERA and 6-2 record. Noah Shapo (2024) is another arm that’s seen success on the bump this year, pitching to a 2.26 ERA across 31 innings of work. Trevor Byrnes (2023) and Beau McBride (2024) are two more options for the Trevians, each of them pitching to an ERA below two in 20+ innings.

YORK (25-13-1)

The Dukes are in the state playoffs after falling just short in 2022, and it’s their first appearance as a program since 1993. They battled their way to get here, taking down a handful of talented clubs on their route - Wheaton North, South Elgin, St. Charles East, Batavia, and Hononegah.

Offensively, York’s led by standout sophomore Josh Fleming (2025), who will enter Joliet on Friday with a .464 batting average, 52 total hits, 38 RBIs, 22 doubles, and seven home runs in 112 at-bats. Behind Fleming are three upperclassmen, all of whom are having strong seasons at the plate in their own right: Jack Braun (2023), Chris Danko (2024), and Ryan Turner (2023). Braun doubled 12 times, driving in 29 runs and scoring 30 times on his own, too. Danko’s 42 RBIs lead this Dukes’ team with 15 total extra-base hits, including 10 doubles, and a .319 batting average to pair. Turner’s .402 batting average and 43 hits trail only Fleming, while his 31 RBIs are third on the team.

York’s strength lies on the mound, where the Dukes have multiple arms that can beat you each time they toe the rubber, starting with staff ace Ryan Sloan (2024; Wake Forest). Sloan has certainly pitched like the top-ranked 2024 in the state this spring, punching out 88 batters over 46 innings on the hill with a 0.91 ERA. Tommy Van Daff (2023; Spring Hill College) has thrown the second most innings on this roster with a 3.77 ERA and 43 strikeouts across his 39 frames. Noah Hughes (2024) has appeared in 14 games for the Dukes, hurling 30 innings, and he;s punched out 36 in that span while posting a 3.27 ERA. Joey Pagni (2023), Lucas Bormann (2023), and Brendan Fleming (2023; Elmhurst) have all thrown 20+ innings as well, each of them owning an ERA below two, while striking out a combined 77 batters between the three of them.