In the last five seasons, the La Salle-Peru baseball program has been to state twice and won three regional titles, including one last year under second-year coach Matt Glupczynski.
“It’s a lot to live up to,” L-P senior Noah Lamboley said. “That’s also a good goal. We want to live up to the L-P hype and we all have intentions of doing that. We’re all going to work our hardest every day to get to that point.”
The Cavaliers want to get to the point of winning the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference West Division and advancing deep into the postseason.
“Our goal is to win a state title,” said Glupczynski, who is in his second season. “It’s always going to be that way. These guys know that and agree. If that’s not your goal, there’s really no reason for us to even be doing this. Of course, we would like to win the conference, and we want to win regional, sectional and super-sectional.”
Lamboley, who will pitch and play middle infield, leads a squad that returns five starters. Also back are Kyle Rothrock at first base, Max Strickland at catcher and Tyler Brovelli and Andres Martinez in the outfield.
“We do have six or seven returning seniors, and that’s really going to help us out,” Glupczynski said. “They had a very good, successful year last year where we won a regional title, so senior leadership is going to be a strength of ours.”
Lamboley, who missed most of last season with an injury but was an NT First-Team All-Area pitcher as a sophomore, headlines a deep pitching staff.
Rothrock and Erik Gens are back after seeing time on the mound last season. Also expected to contribute are fellow seniors Matt Jaegle and Martinez, juniors Shawn Feagin, Erik Milaicki and Kyle Quick and sophomore Brady Huebbe, the team’s lone underclassmen.
“We have nine or 10 guys who are able to compete on the mound for us,” Glupczynski said. “With the weather and all the games that are probably going to add up, we’re going to need everybody.
“I have confidence in every single one of them to take the ball and go out and get outs.”
Glupczynski also expects the Cavaliers to be deep defensively with two or three players competing for time at each position.
Rothrock, Jaegle, Vinny Gray and Michael Vollmer will see time at first base, while Gens, Milaicki and Austin Mueller will play third base.
In the middle infield, Lamboley and Huebbe will see time at both spots, while Milaicki can play shortstop and Feagin will see time at second.
Ben Bejster will play in center or left field, Nate Burris will see time in center, Martinez and Matt Novotney will play in left and Brovelli and Cam Mignone have been platooning in right.
Strickland and Lewis will play behind the plate, while Lewis can also play the outfield.
“We have a lot of guys who can play multiple positions, so we’re pretty deep,” Strickland said. “I think we’ll be pretty solid on defense.”
With a deep pitching staff and solid defense, the Cavs hope to put pressure on opponents offensively.
“It’s going to be a lot like last year — getting guys on, getting them over, a lot of small ball and timely hits,” Glupczynski said. “I’m all about pitching and defense, and I’m all about getting guys on, moving them over and getting them in any way we can. I’m not about the home run. I like to put pressure on the defense as much as we possibly can.”
Rothrock is expected to hit in the middle of the order once again, while Lamboley and Strickland will be counted on offensively as well.
After batting ninth last year, Burris is in the mix for the lead-off spot along with Bejster and Lamboley.
“We want consistent hitters,” Lamboley said. “We’re looking to go up there and put the ball in play every time. We want to be a hard out. That’s what we’re going to work to do.”
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.