Preseason Team Countdown: No. 20 Sacred Heart-Griffin



By Ryan Quigley
Illinois Scouting Director 

Leading up to the start of the high school season, we will count down the Top 50 preseason teams every day as part of our comprehensive season coverage:

Team: Sacred Heart-Griffin
Preseason Rank:  20
2014 Record: 38-4
Conference: Central State Eight
IHSA Class: 3A  
Head Coach: Mike Eck
Playoff Run:
Class 3A State Runner-Up
2014 Final Rank:
4
Returning Starters:
4
Returning Pitchers:
2

TOP PLAYERS
Name, Position, Class (College Commitment)
Cole Daily, SS, 2015
(Notre Dame)
Ben McElwee, LHP, 2015
Sean Mason, C/OF, 2015
Cal Elvers, C/OF, 2016 (Miami Ohio)
Matt Richey, RHP, 2015
Justin Zanger, 2B, 2015
Peyton Minder, 3B, 2015

X-FACTOR
Notre Dame commit Cole Daily is one of the top defensive shortstops in Illinois, and provides speed at the top of the lineup for the Cyclones. Daily, a 6.85 runner in the 60, boasts impressive tools across the board, throwing 83 mph across the diamond and producing 89 mph exit velocity.

NEWCOMERS TO WATCH
Jack Staten, RHP, 2016

Devin Thomas, OF, 2016

Sam Sergent, OF, 2016
Patrick Belz, SS, 2016
Mason Hale, C, 2016
Austin Chapman, RHP, 2017
Tommy Drake, INF, 2017

The lower levels have been loaded with talent, look for sophomore RHP Austin Chapman to make a varsity contribution. Chapman sat 82-83 mph back in September and was named the Top Overall Prospect at the PBR Capitol City Open held at SHG. Jack Staten did not allow a run in 7 innings as a sophomore on varsity last season.

KEY PLAYER LOST
Mitch Trees, C
(Cincinnati Reds)
Connor Etheridge, RHP
(Belmont)
Conor White, OF
Peter Young, RHP
Kevin Zanger, 2B
Steve Sartore, DH

STAT RAT
Daily hit .385 in 2014 with 35 runs scored and 17 stolen bases. LHP Ben McElwee is a returning ace after going 9-1 with a miniscule 0.76 ERA in 2014. He struck out 81 in 64 innings, allowing only 29 hits. 

OUTLOOK
Strictly on paper with only four starters returning and two pitchers, the casual fan would think SHG would be in for a down year. The PBR scouting staff has first-hand knowledge of the talent at the lower levels, The Cyclones were one out away from being crowned Class 3A State Champions in 2014. Despite losing 23 wins on the mound in Etheridge and Young, and offensive standouts Mitch Trees, Conor White, and Kevin Zanger, SHG should reload under Head Coach Mike Eck. Eck noted the lack of experience, but defense and pitching depth will still be strengths. McElwee, Richey, Staten, and Chapman should help solidfy the pitching staff.

BOTTOM LINE
Expect the Cyclones to experience some growing pains early, but compete with rival Glenwood, both for the conference title and to advance in the IHSA playoffs.

Preseason Countdown

+ Top 50 Preseason Countdown Rankings

+ 2015 Schedules Released

+ Updated Illinois 2016 Rankings

+ Updated Illinois 2015 Rankings

+ June Event Schedule

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