Prep Baseball Report

Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 3 O'Fallon

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: O'Fallon
Preseason Rank: 3
2017 Record: 32-6
Conference: Southwestern
IHSA Class: 4A
Head Coach: Jason Portz
Playoff Run: Sectional finals appearance
2017 Final Rank: 10
Returning Starters: 7
Returning Pitchers: 5


Hayden Schaefer, OF (McKendree University)
Chase Hackstadt, C
Jordan Richardson, 1B
Heath Zuber, RHP


Name State School Class Pos Commitment
Hayden Juenger
IL O'Fallon 2018 RHP/3B Missouri State
Brayden Arnold IL O'Fallon 2018 RHP/1B/OF Maryville
Quinn Lowery IL O'Fallon 2018 OF
Nathan Martin IL O'Fallon 2018 2B/3B  
Caleb Shelton IL O'Fallon 2018 OF Wisconsin-Platteville
Nick Boone IL O'Fallon 2018 OF Southeastern Iowa CC
Logan Boente IL  O'Fallon 2018  RHP McKendree
Jaysn Miller IL  O'Fallon 2018  RHP Elmhurst College
Jared Dalonzo IL O'Fallon 2018 3B  
Josh Gibson IL O'Fallon 2019 SS Missouri State
Matthew Albritton IL O'Fallon 2019 1B


Not so much a newcomer, but Matthew Albritton took over as the Panthers starting first baseman midway through the season last year as a sophomore. The starting position is all his in 2018, so it’s going to be interesting to see what his slashline looks like after a full season of play. Albritton is a potential next-level bat thanks to his raw power potential; he hit two homers down the stretch for O’Fallon last season and Coach Portz expects him to make his mark in the middle of this order once more.


Junior Josh Gibson. Gibson has been a starter and dynamic part of the Panther offense since his freshman year. Gibson is the sparkplug of the offense and will look to continue to build the two years of varsity experience he already has under his belt. With a team full of senior experience, Gibson will likely lead the way with his pesky bat and defensive prowess at shortstop this spring.

Josh Gibson (2.11.18)


O’Fallon’s strength is obvious: They’re practically returning they’re entire lineup and pitching staff from their 2017 season, one where they finished with a 32-6 record. Not many schools in the state, let alone the Southwestern Conference, can boast that their staff is anchored by two stud arms.

Senior RHPs Hayden Juenger and Brayden Arnold are both premium arms that would aces on most any high school team. Juenger, ranked No. 11 in the Illinois’ 2018 class, sits comfortably in the upper-80’s with reports flowing in this winter that it has begun to climb into the low-90’s. Besides the strong arm, what makes Juenger so special is his athleticism and ability to pound the zone with all of his pitches. He’ll help bolster a strong pitching staff in the Missouri State program next year. But before then, he’ll help his metro-east high school redeem themselves from last year’s sectional loss. As for Arnold, he’s going to return to his spot as the No. 2 arm in the rotation this season but he’s also going to contribute in the middle of the lineup, too. Even though he’s probably more intriguing on the mound, Arnold hit .333 last season for the Panthers and added three homers from the four-hole while playing a valuable corner outfield spot.

Hayden Juenger (5.16.17)

Rounding out the rotation is fellow senior Logan Boente who, statistically, put together as strong line as anyone on his staff a season ago. Boente pitched in 14 games last year, went 8-1, and recorded a 0.91 ERA. But, as if their terrorizing three-man rotation wasn’t enough, senior Jaysn Miller will return as the fireman reliever this season, putting out the few fires this staff will start.

Defensively this team is as sturdy as any in the state. Up the middle, junior shortstop Josh Gibson and second baseman Nathan Martin are vacuums as defenders and make their pitching staff that much more cool-headed. Gibson, namely, spent his entire sophomore season as the team’s leadoff man where he hit .371 and led the team in hits and runs; he’s another Missouri State commit and is currently ranked No. 16 in the 2019 Illinois class. Albritton should hold down first base and it seems like Jared Dalonzo likely will solidify the infield at third base. Dalonzo saw some time on varsity as a sophomore but had to miss the 2017 season due to injury.

Forming the remainder of the lineup are three senior outfielders; the versatile Quinn Lowery, four-year letter winner Caleb Shelton, and the speedy Nick Boone. On paper, this team seems as rock solid as any in the state and has quality arms to ride throughout the playoffs.


With such a formidable group, O’Fallon should have a great chance to be state bound by season’s end. A large number of starters -- both in the rotation and on the field -- are graduating after the school year, so the Panthers should be all in to visit the state tournament for the first time since 2009. A three-headed monster of a rotation, led by Juenger, makes those lofty expectations seem much more achievable.

The experience on this roster is unparalleled and there are very few holes within it. Since this 2018 class has been playing together for so long, there isn’t much depth behind it, which could be their most apparent weakness. But, apart from that, O’Fallon is setting its sights very high and it would not be a surprise to see them in Joliet in early June.

Find more information on the 2018 Panthers below:

+ Full Schedule
Team Website
+ Gamechanger

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