Preseason Top 25 Team Countdown: No. 25 Rockford Christian
March 7, 2016
By Sean Duncan
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:
| RHP/SS Nolan Gazouski
Team: Rockford Christian
Preseason Rank: 25
2015 Record: 33-6
Conference: Big Northern
IHSA Class: 2A
Head Coach: Mike McClellan
Playoff Run: Won the 2A State Title
2015 Final Rank: 10
Name, Position, Class (College Commitment)
Nolan Gazouski, SS/RHP, 2016 (Ranger JC)
Alec Powell, RHP/OF, 2016 (Quincy)
Jake McClellan, C, 2016
Luke Joiner, 3B/OF, 2017
Alec Nicoll, 1B, 2017
Bryan Truitt, RHP/OF, 2017
Jacob Gugle, RHP/OF, 2016
Payton Gustafson, OF/RHP, 2016
David Prisby, OF/RHP, 2017
Neil Thomas, LHP/OF, 2017
Nolan Gazouski. The highly athletic 6-foot-6, 185-pound RHP/SS is one of the top two-way talents in the state. The left-handed hitter is a 6.7 runner with a strong arm. As a junior, he batted .353 with 12 doubles, six triples, four homers and 37 RBI. On the mound, however, is where Gazouski will likely land in the future. He features a quick, upper-80s fastball and an upper-70s slider. He posted a 5-0 record with a 1.43 ERA as a junior last spring.
NEWCOMER TO WATCH
Bryan Truitt. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound junior right-hander should emerge as a strong No. 3 pitcher behind Powell and Gazouski. In the winter at a PBR event, Truitt sat 83-85 with his fastball. A two-way talent, Truitt should be an impact performer in the outfield as well.
KEY PLAYERS LOST
1B/RHP Jake Kellerman
RHP Brandon Williams
RHP Alec Powell was the ace of the staff in leading Rockford Christian to its first state title in any sport, when the Royal Lions captured the Class 2A state championship. Last spring, Powell earned PBR third-team All-State honors after he posted a 10-0 record with a 0.39 ERA, striking out 92 in 70.2 innings pitched, allowing only 39 hits and walking only 28. The 6-foot-1 Quincy recruit has been up to 87 mph, and features a hard 12/6 curveball
The Royal Lions were one of the spring’s biggest surprises, as they flew under the radar to win the school’s first state championship by defeating Williamsville, 6-2, in the Class 2A title game. They finished 36-6 behind a talented pitching staff by any classification standards. Coach Mike McClellan welcomes back many key contributors from last year’s record-breaking team, including two of his top pitchers in Quincy recruit Alec Powell, a third-team All-State selection, and two-way standout Nolan Gazouski. The graduation of RHP Brandon Williams, who went 9-2 last spring, will hurt, but look for junior Bryan Truitt to fill in nicely. Senior catcher Jake McClellan returns to handle the staff after hitting .313 with 26 RBI last spring. Junior OF David Prisby will look to build off a strong sophomore campaign in which he batted .366 with 10 doubles, 34 RBI, and 37 runs. The Royal Lions will need to replace the power bat of Jake Kellerman, who hit two homers in the championship game.
With Powell and Gazouski back for their senior years, the Royal Lions should vie for their second straight Class 2A state championship.