Prep Baseball Report

Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 12 Libertyville

By Andy Sroka
Staff Writer

The Illinois high school season kicks off on March 12th, the first day for regular season games.

Leading up to the opening week of games we will be rolling out team previews of high school teams all across the state and across all classifications, eventually launching our Preseason Power 25.

We will bring you a snapshot of what to expect along with top players and keys to success for that particular team.

Team: Libertyville
Preseason Rank: 12
2017 Record: 30-7
Conference: North Suburban
IHSA Class: 4A
Head Coach: Matt Thompson
Playoff Run: Sectional semifinals 
2017 Final Rank: 9
Returning Starters: 6
Returning Pitchers: 2


Daniel Marks, OF (Rockhurst)
Jackson Peterson, C (Pennsylvania)


Name State School Class Pos Commitment
Riley Gowens
IL Libertyville 2018 RHP Illinois
Colin Fields IL Libertyville 2018 RHP Valparaiso
Nick Angel
IL Libertyville 2018 OF Dayton
Tim Jean
IL Libertyville 2018 INF Heartland CC
Griffin Murphy
IL Libertyville 2018 1B  
Micah Holzwarth
IL Libertyville 2018 OF  
Luke Plunkett
IL  Libertyville 2018  C Lutheran College
Ben Arnold IL  Libertyville 2018  OF  
Scott Bonebrake
IL Libertyville 2018 RHP  
Tony Rigali IL Libertyville 2018 INF  
Andrew Kim
IL Libertyville 2019 INF/OF Illinois
Ryan Klainos
IL Libertyville 2019 RHP  
Derek Calamari
IL Libertyville 2019 RHP/1B  
Tanner Kelly
IL Libertyville 2019 INF  
Garrison Bennett IL Libertyville 2019 C  


Junior INF Andrew Kim, an Illinois commit, saw limited time on varsity as a sophomore last year and his primed to see his role expand in 2018. Kim is a 6-foot-1, 180-pound left-handed hitter with middle- to top-of-the-order type of potential with the bat. Kim stays compact at the plate, handles the barrel and creates bat speed. Where he will fit in defensively remains to be seen but it is highly likely his bat will get into the lineup on a regular basis.

Andrew Kim (2.11.18)


Libertyville is returning a substantial number of seniors to its dugout this spring, led by last year’s aces Riley Gowens (Illinois), an all-state selection, and Colin Fields (Valparaiso), an all-conference selection.

Gowens is the staff’s No. 1 and he was the one tasked with the showdown against Mundelein ace Brendan Murphy in the postseason, an all-state matchup he was on the losing end of but might serve as motivation this time around. Gowen sits in the upper-80s with his fastball, and projects as a possible starter at the next level given how he holds his velocity and can throw three pitches for a strike. Fields makes up an enviable one-two punch at the top of this rotation, one of the state’s best. He, too, sits in the upper-80s and has feel for a sharp curveball and slider.

The duo knows this already, but the length of their season probably rests on their shoulders.

Riley Gowens (2.19.17)


For the second consecutive season, the Wildcats were ousted from the postseason by their intra-conference nemesis Mundelein. Libertyville played the Mustangs three times in May before their sectional semifinal meeting and won, sweeping the three-game series. They knew the Mustangs had one of the state’s best players, Brendan Murphy, so it wouldn’t be the last they saw of Mundelein if they wanted to achieve their state dreams. They had confidence on their side though, they managed collect their fair share of hits off Murphy before.

But it just wasn’t their year.

The Wildcats met Murphy’s Mustangs once again in the playoffs, this time after both teams won their regionals, in the sectional semis and Murphy held their typically dynamic offense to just four hits. Murphy rubbed salt in the Wildcats’ wounds, too, after he helped prevent the completion of a Wildcats seventh-inning comeback, getting out of a jam that left the game-tying run stranded at third base.

It doesn’t make it any easier, but the 2017 season was tremendously successful for the Wildcats. They won 30 games behind a mostly inexperienced group, not ranked in last year’s edition of the Preseason Power 25. This year, they return a great squad of seniors, led by the aforementioned Gowens and Fields.

Those two lead a rotation that’s relatively green at the varsity level. But any staff led by two real aces won’t necessarily need that much depth behind it, especially once the playoffs roll around.

Still, there’s going to be some untested pitching after the staff aces make their way through the rotation, but senior RHP Scott Bonebrake should bring some more stability. Junior RHPs Ryan Klainos and Derek Calamari should also see some time on the mound this spring and might become key pieces as relievers.

Libertyville’s savvy starting pitching isn’t even the full story here, either. The Wildcats are returning OF Nick Angel (Dayton), an all-around athlete who’s going to kickstart the offense, and INF Tim Jean (Heartland CC), another anchor in the order. Seniors OF Michael Holzwarth (Hope College), 1B Griffin Murphy, and C Luke Plunkett (Lutheran College) should also give this lineup depth beyond its main run producers.  


The way the Wildcats are constructed, you find yourself looking for weaknesses rather than spotting them outright. They are a complete team that can boast about having two ace-type arms at its helm. Few teams can say the same. And offensively, they have a group of returning seniors that made it work last year. Many of the reasons why Libertyville was a 30-game winner are back for another chance at a state playoff berth and maybe even some revenge against Mundelein.

Coach Matt Thompson may have the ideal combination of seniority, talent, and back up from the junior class to make an even deeper run in 2018.

Find more information on the 2018 Wildcats below:

+ Full Schedule
Team Website
+ Gamechanger

Make sure to follow @pbrillinois on Twitter for the most up-to-date coverage throughout the season.