Preseason Team Countdown: No. 9 Sacred Heart-Griffin
March 18, 2014
By Sean Duncan
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: Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin
Preseason Rank: 9
2013 Record: 26-8
Conference: Central State 8
IHSA Class: 4A
Head Coach: Mike Eck
Playoff Run: Lost in Regional Final (Glenwood)
2013 Final Rank: Not Ranked
Returning Starters: 8
Returning Pitchers: 5
Mitch Trees, C, 2014 (Louisville)
Cole Daily, SS, 2015 (Notre Dame)
Connor Etheridge, 2014 (Belmont)
Conor White, OF, 2014
Ryne Elvers, 3B, 2014
Corey Mason, 2B, 2014
Sean Mason, OF/C, 2015
Ben McElwee, LHP, 2015
Cal Elvers, C, 2016
Ben Sestak, RHP, 2015
Jack Staten, RHP, 2016
Alex Mandeville, INF, 2015
Connor Etheridge. The Cyclones are well stocked in position players and their high-end talent is immense. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound Etheridge will be counted on to be the team’s frontline ace. As a junior, Etheridge posted an 8-2 record with a 1.43 ERA. In 53.2 innings, he struck out 55 and walked 20.
NEWCOMER TO WATCH
Cal Elvers, C, 2016. Although the Cyclones have Mitch Trees behind the plate, Elvers is one of the top catching prospects in Illinois’ 2016 class.
KEY PLAYER LOST
David Jacob, OF (Quincy)
With eight returning starters, considerable pitching depth and a talented crop of underclassmen, this is the year for the Cyclones to become one of the state’s elite teams. Coach Mike Eck’s club features high-end talent all over the field - especially up the middle. Catcher Mitch Trees and SS Cole Daily are premier defenders at their respective positions, while CF Conor While and 2B Corey Mason both return as well. 3B Ryne Elvers is another rock-solid performer. The Cyclones, who shared the Central State 8 title three-ways last year, have tremendous depth to withstand any injuries along the way, and they have solid team speed.
SHG is one of the clear favorites to win a Class 3A state trophy this year, and they have the overall talent and depth to win it all. The Cyclones should be one of the state’s best defensive teams and offensively they are solid. Pitching will likely be the determining factor of whether they are hoisting the state championship trophy in the end. But in order to get to Joliet, they will need to first get through their regional, in which they will likely run into rival and conference foe Glenwood - a program that seems to excel in the playoffs.
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