Preseason Team Countdown: No. 2 St. Laurence



By Sean Duncan
Executive Director

Leading up to the start of the high school season, we will count down the top 75 preseason teams every day as part of our comprehensive season coverage:

Team: St. Laurence
Preseason Rank:
3
2013 Record:
27-10
Conference:
Chicago Catholic Blue
IHSA Class:
4A
Head Coach:
Pete Lotus
Playoff Run: Lost in Sectional Semifinals (St. Rita)
2013 Final Rank: 6

Returning Starters: 8
Returning Pitchers:
5

TOP PLAYERS
Mike Kornacker, INF/RHP, 2014 (Purdue)
Brad Wood, INF/RHP, 2014 (Northern Illinois)
T.J. Marik, C, 2014 (Austin Peay)
Nate Tholl, INF, 2014
Roger Wilson, 1B/RHP, 2014 (St. Francis)
Alex Hitney, RHP, 2014 (Heartland CC)
Mike Miller, OF, 2014 (Hawaii)
Kevin White, OF/C, 2014
Robert Gutierrez, RHP/OF, 2014 (Kentucky Wesleyan)
Frank Greco, INF/RHP, 2015
John Riordan, INF/RHP, 2015
Sean Burnette, OF, 2015


X-FACTOR
Mike Kornacker
. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Purdue recruit is a true two-way impact player. He has started every game at the varsity level since his freshman year, and is a dominant force at the plate and on the mound. As a junior, he earned PBR first-team All-State by hitting .421 with 11 doubles, five homers, two triples, 37 RBI and 39 runs scored. He also earned Porsche Exchange Player of the Week honors in late April. On the mound, the right-hander posted a 7-1 record, which included two perfect games. He had a 0.97 ERA, and struck out 51 and walked nine in 50.1 innings.

KEY PLAYER LOST
Zach Lewis
, RHP/3B (Wabash Valley JC)

STAT RAT
Brad Wood
. The 5-foot-10 two-way talent went 7-1 with a 1.77 ERA on the mound, which included a no-hitter. Offensively, he batted .336 with 37 runs, 28 RBI, 28 walks and swiped 17 of 20 bases.

OUTLOOK
The Vikings return eight starters and five pitchers from last year’s Chicago Catholic Blue championship squad. Coach Pete Lotus’ club should be even more potent this year, as he features high-level senior leadership at every position and an abundance of pitching depth. INF/RHP Mike Kornacker has been a fixture in the Vikings’ lineup for the last four years, and has the ability to carry the program to even greater heights this season. On paper, the Vikings have no deficiencies. On the mound, they have more quality arms than innings to go around. Kornacker and Wood are big-game tested pitchers, and look for hard-throwing Alex Hitney to have a breakout campaign. Hitney has swing-and-miss stuff if he can harness it. The Vikings should be able to score runs in mutliple ways, as they feature middle-of-the-lineup thump and solid team speed. They should also be solid defensively. T.J. Marik is a top-level defensive catcher who should shut down most teams’ running games. INF Nate Tholl and OF Kevin White are two of the top unsigned senior prospects in the state.

BOTTOM LINE
The Vikings have the overall talent to win it all. Then again, they have had the overall talent to win it all each of the last four years, only to come up short in the playoffs. Last year, St. Laurence fell to St. Rita, 8-0, in the sectional semifinals. With senior leadership all over the field, and significant pitching depth, this may be the year they can get over the hump. It won’t be easy, though. The Catholic Blue is as tough as ever, and their sectional pod is equally as brutal.

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