Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 6 Providence Catholic

 By Drew Locascio
Illinois Scouting Director

The Illinois high school season kicked off today, March 13, the first day for regular season games.

Over the last several weeks, we have been rolling  out team previews of high school teams all across the state and  across all classifications, eventually launching our Preseason Power 25.

We have been sending out our annual Preseason Questionnaire to coaches all across the state and as the responses flood in we will bring you a snapshot of what to expect along with top players and keys to success for that particular team.

Team: Providence Catholic
Preseason Rank: 6
2016 Record: 33-9
Conference: Chicago Catholic League - Blue
IHSA Class:
Head Coach:
Mark Smith
Playoff Run:
Won Third-Consecutive 4A State Title
2016 Final Rank:
Returning Starters:
Returning Pitchers:

Top Players

Name State School Class Pos Commitment
Dakota Kotowski IL Providence Catholic 2018 OF Missouri State
Bryce Barnett IL Providence Catholic 2019 RHP Arizona State
Alex Helmin IL Providence Catholic 2019 OF Arizona State
Drew Hunniford
Providence Catholic 2017 OF
Saint Xavier
Tyler Zarembka
IL Providence Catholic
2017 LHP

Kurt Dankovich
IL Providence Catholic
2017 RHP Lewis
Gaoshua Williams
IL Providence Catholic
2017 OF Central Michigan
Mike Massaro
IL Providence Catholic
2017 C Hillsdale
Nick Jones
IL Providence Catholic
2018 C

Logan Anderson
IL Providence Catholic
2018 3B  
Jake Miller
IL Providence Catholic
2018 RHP  
Josh Mrozek
IL Providence Catholic
2019 SS  

Mike Madej, 2B, 2016 (Purdue)
Jim Jeffries, C, 2016 (Heartland CC)
Jackson Stulas, SS, 2016 (Parkland JC)
Zack Pych, 3B, 2016 (Parkland JC)
Tom Kelley, RF, 2016 (Miami (OH))
Jackson Dvorak, 1B/DH, 2016 (South Suburban JC)
Connor Hilty, RHP, 2016
Reed McCool, RHP, 2016 (North Central College)
Connor Creed, RHP, 2016 (Joliet JC)
Matt Waznis, OF, 2016 (South Suburban JC)

Junior OF Dakota Kotowski. Missouri State commit, has a powerful bat and will be counted on as a middle of the order threat for the Celtics this spring. Kotowski has been waiting in the wings behind last year’s senior-laden lineup and is ready for a breakout season.

Sophomore RHP Bryce Barnett. Barnett, an Arizona State commit will compete for the No. 1 spot in the rotation in 2017. The talented sophomore has a fast arm and fastball up to 87 mph. Barnett’s separator however, is his slider that he throws at 78-80 mph, with swing and miss action.

Bryce Barnett (1.15.17)

. Zero represents the number of returning position players for the Celtics in 2017 and the number of teams that have beaten them in the playoffs the last three seasons. The Celtics lose their entire starting lineup, a lineup that was full of proven winners and made history by running the table, winning three consecutive 4A state championships.

The mystic and nostalgia of Providence Catholic over the last two years continued once again in 2016. The Celtics, known for late comebacks and one-run wins, ran the table once again and became the first team to ever win three consecutive state titles regardless of classification. In 2017 they will be aiming for a record fourth straight state title with an entirely new lineup. Given that, the 2017 season is an extremely tough one to predict for the Celtics. Although they have to completely revamp their lineup, they may have just as much talent as they’ve ever had. Their potential starting outfield could have three Division I commits, in junior Dakota Kotowski (Missouri State), senior Gaoshua Williams (Central Michigan) and sophomore Alex Helmin (Arizona State). Kotowski should lead the way offensively and be the key run producer for the Celtics. Williams transferred in from Oklahoma at the start of the school year and adds an interesting new element, as he is an impressive raw athlete. Williams runs a 6.66 and has some juice in his right-handed bat. Helmin also has impressive speed and has a projectable, athletic frame. Senior Drew Hunniford is another talented outfielder that Coach Mark Smith has at his disposal. Hunniford has above-average speed, swings left-handed and Kotowski could always transition to first base to help make room for him in the outfield. Senior Mike Massaro and junior Nick Jones look to be a solid 1-2 behind the plate. Middle infield is currently the biggest question mark for the Celtics. Josh Mrozek is a left-handed hitting sophomore shortstop who will be competing for the job. Pitching depth should be a strength of the team. Sophomore RHP Bryce Barnett will compete for the No.1 spot in the rotation, as will senior RHP Kurt Dankovich. Dankovich impressed at an event this winter with a mid 80’s fastball, three-pitch feel and recently committed to Lewis University. Senior LHP Tyler Zarembka and junior RHP Jake Miller will be counted on to throw valuable innings this spring. Junior RHP Jacob Hilty, the younger brother of Connor (who was a key arm for the Celtics in last year’s championship run) should also add depth.

The Celtics and Head Coach Mark Smith are proven winners. Despite the fact that they have an entire new lineup, Coach Smith has plenty of talent to work with to continue their historic run at a fourth straight state title. When time comes for Joliet, don’t be surprised to see Coach Smith and the Celtics still standing.

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

preseason countdown