Prep Baseball Report

Preseason Top 25 Team Countdown: No. 9 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 25 preseason teams every day as part of our comprehensive season coverage:

Hank Christie
           RHP Hank Christie

Team: Oak Park-River Forest
Preseason Rank: 9
2015 Record: 31-8
Conference: West Suburban Silver
IHSA Class: 4A
Head Coach: Chris Ledbetter
Playoff Run: Third-Place Finish in Class 4A (Tied)
2015 Final Rank: 5
Returning Starters: 5
Returning Pitchers: 7

Name, Position, Class (College Commitment)
Hank Christie, RHP, 2016 (Northwestern)
Evan Bell, OF, 2016 (Memphis)
Jeremy Gaines, 2B, 2016 (John A. Logan JC)
Andrew Hennings, SS, 2016
Dali Durazo, 3B/RHP, 2016
Luke McMahon, RHP, 2016 (Wisconsin-Oshkosh)
Connor Nelson, 1B, 2016
Joe Cundari
, RHP, 2016
Jack McMullen, LHP, 2016

Hank Christie. The Northwestern recruit headlines a deep pitching staff, and will be counted on to deliver in the Huskies’ big games.

Luke Fitzgerald. The 6-foot-2, 170-pound right-handed hitting freshman will vie for the starting catcher spot.

C Patrick Rumoro (Louisville)
OF Ryan Fish (Jefferson College)
LHP/OF Chris Atwood (Wisconsin-Oshkosh)

The Huskies return 25 of the team’s 31 wins on the mound.

Oak Park is one of a handful of programs in the state that is seemingly in the Top 25 and vying for a state title every year. This season should be no exception, as the Huskies return five starters and seven pitchers from last year’s club that tied for third place in Class 4A and won the West Suburban Silver championship. Venerable coach Chris Ledbetter returns an extremely deep and experienced pitching staff, led by last year’s ace, Hank Christie. Aside from Christie, RHP Joe Cundari (seven wins) LHP Jack McMullen (six wins) and RHP Luke McMahon (three wins) are experienced winners. The Huskies also return their double-play tandem of Andrew Hennings and Jeremy Gaines, both athletic top-of-the-order run-producers. OF Evan Bell and 3B Dali Durazo also return. The big question surrounding the Huskies will be behind the plate, as they graduated three-year starter Patrick Rumoro, and may rely on talented freshman Luke Fitzgerald to handle the staff.   

The Huskies are the prohibitive favorites to repeat as the West Suburban Silver champions. While they have the pitching depth to make another deep postseason run, their offense lacks the thump of some other perennial powers. If their offense can consistently put enough runs on the board, then they very well could find themselves playing in Joliet come June again. 

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