Prep Baseball Report

Preseason Top 25 Team Countdown: No. 13 Lincoln-Way North

By Sean Duncan
Executive Director

Leading up to the start of the high school season, we will count down the Top 25 preseason teams every day as part of our comprehensive season coverage:

Ben Troike
            SS Ben Troike

Team: Lincoln-Way North
Preseason Rank:
2015 Record: 26-11
Southwest Suburban
IHSA Class:
Head Coach:
Mitch Nowicki
Playoff Run: Lost in Sectional Semifinals
2015 Final Rank: Not Ranked
Returning Starters: 4
Returning Pitchers: 6

Name, Position, Class (College Commitment)
Ben Troike, SS, 2016 (Illinois) 
Tom Szczasny, 2B/3B, 2016 (Northern Illinois) 
Tyler Laux, RHP, 2016 (Prairie View A&M) 
Tyler Strzelczyk, 1B/3B, 2016 (Madison College)
Mitch Strzelczyk, 2B, 2016 (Robert Morris)
Jimmy Cook, OF, 2016 (Kalamazoo Valley CC)
Nicholas Figus, OF, 2016
Josh Hart, LHP, 2016 (Rend Lake CC)
Luke Van Artsen, OF, 2016 (Hawaii-Hilo)
Ian VanWitzenburg, LHP, 2016
Jake McLaughlin, RHP, 2016
Mitch Hunter, RHP, 2016
Matt Blaney, RHP, 2017
Jimmy Quinn, C, 2017
Sean Robinson, OF, 2017 

Tyler Laux. The 6-foot-5, 195-pound senior right-hander will need to emerge as a frontline arm for the Phoenix.

Danny Zimmerman. Left-handed pitcher is an advanced sophomore who has the makeup and stuff to make an impact on this year's varsity squad.

RHP Liam Jenkins (Arizona State)
LHP Kyle Ostrowski (Purdue)
OF/LHP Josh Mutter (Northern Illinois)

Ben Troike, who’s one of the top defensive shortstops in the state, batted over .600 to earn MVP of the IHSBCA summer state tournament.

2015 was an up-and-down year for the Phoenix, one that was filled disappointment, followed by an unexpected IHSBCA summer state championship and, sadly, the news that Lincoln-Way North will be closing the school at the end of the 2016 school year. Indeed, this will be the last season for the Phoenix, a program that had established itself as one of the strongest in the state over the last six years. Coach Mitch Nowicki is hopeful his squad can go out on top after the Phoenix won the IHSBCA summer state championship. The championship came on the heels of a very disappointing spring campaign, one that had LWN as one of the prohibitive favorites to win the Class 4A championship. Despite having premium pitching and lots of returning talent, the Phoenix never got on track and lost in the sectional semifinals. While LWN may not have the high-visibility arms of last year, the team features considerable depth and quality. Look for RHP Tyler Laux to have a breakout senior campaign. Offensively, SS Ben Troike returns to anchor the infield, along with INF Tom Szczasny. OF Nicholas Figus, a highly athletic centerfielder, is one of the top uncommitted prospects in the state.

Even with a summer state championship under their belt, the expectations this spring are nowhere near where they were last spring. Perhaps the Phoenix flourish in the underdog role? Whatever the perceived role, no team in the state will be playing with the same motivation of it being the school’s last season. That should provide the Phoenix with plenty of fuel throughout the season.

Make sure to follow @pbrillinois on Twitter for the most up-to-date coverage throughout the season.


Preseason Top 25 Team Countdown Previews 

Updated Illinois 2016 Rankings

+ Complete Illinois High School Schedules (Coming Soon)