Preseason Team Countdown: No. 23 Downers Grove South



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:
Downers Grove South
Preseason Rank: 23
2014 Record: 29-8
Conference: West Suburban-Gold (1st Place Finish in 2014)
IHSA Class:  4A
Head Coach: Darren Orel
Playoff Run: Lost in Super-Sectional, 2-1, to St. Rita
2014 Final Rank: 19
Returning Starters:
4
Returning Pitchers: 2

TOP PLAYERS
Name, Position, Class (College Commitment)
Danny Oriente, C/OF, 2016
Joe Engel, SS, 2015 (Columbia)
Ryan Taylor, 3B/RHP/C, 2015 (Heartland CC)
Peter Hamot, P, 2015 (Lewis)
Ty McCulloch, 1B/LHP, 2016
Zach Radde, 1B/3B, 2015 (UW-Oshkosh)
Joe LaCivita, DH/OF, 2015 (McKendree)

X-FACTOR
C/OF Danny Oriente is one of the state’s top hitters and proved it last spring hitting in the middle of the order for the Mustangs on their way to the Super-Sectional. Oriente impressed with 98 mph exit velocity off the tee this summer, and his athleticism carries over to the base paths as well (7.08 60-yard dash). Oriente caught for the Mustangs a year ago, and also shows arm strength from the outfield (84 mph).

NEWCOMER TO WATCH
Junior LHP Zack Jones recently impressed with a low 80s fastball and a sharp, late breaking curveball.

KEY PLAYERS LOST
Zac Taylor, OF/RHP, (Houston)
Joe Becht, SS, (Santa Clara)
Danny Spinuzza, LHP
Matt Zinnecker, P/OF
Chris Pedrak, RHP/1B, (Carthage)

STAT RAT
Ryan Taylor
hit .439 in 2014 with three home runs, 14 doubles, 28 RBI, and 24 runs scored. Oriente hit .389 with three homers, four triples, 15 doubles, and 36 RBI last spring. Joe Engel returns at shortstop after hitting .370 with 11 doubles, three triples, and one home run.

OUTLOOK
The Mustangs must replace 22 wins from last season’s staff: Danny Spinuzza (8-2), Zac Taylor (8-1), and Chris Pedrak (6-2). If the pitching can come around, expect the Mustangs to have a potent lineup with Taylor, Oriente, and Engel leading the charge. RHP Peter Hamot returns to lead the staff after posting a 2.03 ERA in 34.1 innings pitched. Taylor was a perfect 5-for-5 in saves last spring, with a 1.46 ERA in 24.0 innings pitched.

BOTTOM LINE
Coach Darren Orel’s Mustangs lost a 2-1 heartbreaker in the Super-Sectional one year ago to St. Rita, and look to repeat as Western Suburban Gold Conference champions. If inexperienced pitchers can step up, Downers Grove South very well could find themselves in the Class 4A state finals hunt.

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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