Preseason Team Countdown: No. 29 Oak Park-River Forest

By Sean Duncan
Executive 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: Oak Park-River Forest
Preseason Rank: 29
2014 Record: 26-13
Conference: West Suburban Silver
IHSA Class: 4A 
Head Coach: Chris Ledbetter
Playoff Run:
Lost in Regional Final to Lyons Township
2014 Final Rank:
Not Ranked
Returning Starters:
Returning Pitchers:

Name, Position, Class (College Commitment)
Patrick Rumoro
, C, 2015 (Louisville)
Jeremy Gaines, 2B/OF, 2016 (Missouri)
Hank Christie, RHP, 2016
Chris Atwood, OF/LHP, 2015
Ryan Fish, OF/RHP, 2015 (Jefferson College)
Andrew Hennings, SS, 2016
Evan Bell, OF, 2016
Jack Stannard, LHP, 2015
Luke McMahon, RHP, 2016
Jack Fitzgerald, INF, 2016
Dali Durazo, INF, 2016
Cam Moore, OF, 2016

Jeremy Gaines
. The 5-foot-9, 170-pound Missouri recruit has game-changing speed on the bases. A 6.70 runner, Gaines is a top-level base-runner, said coach Chris Ledbetter. Gaines’ speed also translates defensively, where he can play both second base and outfield positions.

Evan Bell
. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound junior will be counted on to fill in one of the vacant outfield spots this spring.

RHP Sam Cottingham-Beard (Western Illinois)
RHP Keith Rogalla (Creighton)
OF/P Alex Rice (Black Hawk College)

Last season was the first time in coach Chris Ledbetter’s 14 years that the Huskies failed to win a regional championship.

Last season, the Huskies entered the spring with high expectations of competing for the school’s second state championship since 2012, only to fall flat, losing in the regional final to rival Lyons Township. While a program as consistent as Oak Park will never fly under the radar, this year’s edition has the ability to quietly do damage. For starters, the Huskies are extremely solid and athletic up the middle. Three-year starting C Pat Rumoro, a Louisville recruit, anchors the defense and should be a steadying hand for a relatively inexperienced pitching staff. SS Andrew Hennings and 2B Jeremy Gaines, both juniors, return in the middle infield, and senior Chris Atwood is back in centerfield. Gaines, Atwood and Hennings all run well and should put pressure on opposing defenses. Senior OF/RHP Ryan Fish, a switch-hitter with speed, also returns. The Huskies graduated their three conference starters last year, including a pair of Division 1 recruits in Sam Cottingham-Beard and Keith Rogalla. Look for junior RHP Hank Christie to step into the No. 1 spot in the rotation.  Christie, who’s ranked in the top 50 of Illinois’ 2016 class, throws three pitches for strikes, including a sharp slider and mid-80s fastball. Atwood, Fish, junior Luke McMahon and senior LHP Jack Stannard will be needed to fill in with quality innings as well.  

By no means is this one of Oak Park’s strongest teams on paper. But they still have plenty of talent and athleticism across the diamond. If some of their inexperienced pitchers step up and become reliable starters, then the Huskies should once again vie for the West Suburban Silver championship and get back to their winning ways in the playoffs. But that’s a big if.

Preseason Countdown

+ Top 50 Preseason Countdown Rankings

+ Updated Illinois 2015 Rankings

+ June Event Schedule

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