Prep Baseball Report

No. 3 Joliet Catholic Academy is clear favorite to win Class 3A title

By Sean Duncan
Executive Director

Few programs in the state can absorb the loss of a PBR first-team All-State pitcher and potentially be even stronger the following year. Indeed, the Hilltoppers have a void at the top of their rotation with the graduation of LHP Kevin Duchene (now at Illinois), but coach Jared Voss has more than enough talent to step right in.

They showed just that over the summer when they advanced to the IHSBCA state championship game before falling to Lyons Township. This spring, JCA is the clear favorite to win the Class 3A state championship, which would be their fourth state trophy in six years.

The Hilltoppers (29-8-1) return four starters and four pitchers from last year’s club that won the East Suburban Catholic crown and sat atop the state rankings for a chunk of the season, but was unceremoniously bounced by Lincoln-Way West in the sectional semifinals. Western Illinois-bound SS Chris Tschida (.495 BA, 52 hits, 33 RBI) anchors a balanced offense that is capable of scoring a lot of runs. Tschida is a three-year starter who earned PBR second-team All-State honors as a junior.

Senior C Alex Voitik (signed at Holy Cross) is a top-level defensive catcher, and senior 1B Ryan Peter (.350 BA, 42 hits, 15 SB) anchor the middle of the lineup. Both Voitek and Peter are three-year starters as well. Sophomore standout OF/RHP/C Nick Dalesandro (.308 BA, 21 RBI) made a significant impact on varsity as a freshman last year. Dalesandro, who’s already verbally committed to Purdue, is one of the top sophomore prospects in the Midwest. Senior INF Ira Hughes and junior INF Rylan Bannon should also contribute.

Although the Hilltoppers lack a Duchene-type ace, they have plenty of pitching depth, led by senior LHP Matt Testa (0.81 ERA, 26 IP) and senior RHP Cal Placher (1.62 ERA, 47 IP). Senior RHP Sam Couch, who is signed at Lewis University, returns after missing last season with an injury.

The extremely versatile Dalesandro also has shutdown stuff on the mound. Junior RHPs Kyle Polaski and Brady Kostecki should also contribute, and keep an eye on high-level freshman RHP Drake Fellows in the near future.

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