St. Laurence baseball coach Pete Lotus was picking up his daughter, Easton, at Midway International Airport on Saturday afternoon as she returned from California from a 14U softball tournament with the Beverly Bandits.
While waiting for her, Lotus kept checking his phone for the ESPN feed of the Little League Senior World Series. Seven of the 16 players on the Clear Ridge roster are from St. Laurence.
Saturday was the championship game and Clear Ridge beat Australia, 7-2, at Mansfield Park in Bangor, Maine and Lotus was one of the happiest guys at the airport.
“It was great to see those guys play well,” Lotus said. “What a great experience for those kids. To play on national television is a pretty cool experience.’’
High school football is a couple of Fridays away and it’s easy to get excited for that. I know I am.
But I am also anxious for April and May to start rolling around. When you have a plethora of players from a World Series champion – including pitchers Gage Olszak and Zach Verta, who racked up wins in and picked up hits in the semifinals and finals respectively – it’s easy to get giddy about the season.
Not too far away from the Burbank school is Brother Rice. It used a bunch of young players mixed with established players to make it to the Phil Lawler Summer Classic championship game, where it lost by a run to Plainfield South in July.
These two teams are loaded again this season and St. Rita (which had three players on Clear Ridge), Mt. Carmel and three-time defending Class 4A state champion Providence are also in the Chicago Catholic League Blue.
“It’s pretty crazy – even though it’s so far away, you can’t wait for it to come,” Lotus said. “I guess it will get here before you know it.’’
Brother Rice, which was ranked in the top 10 in the nation during the season by USA Today before being upset by the Vikings in the sectional final at St. Rita in the spring, has Reporter/Regional Player of the Year Ryan Kutt returning and some other stars including Jack Guzek, Sam Jones, Jake Ridgway and Ryan King mixed in with promising up-and-comers who were hot in summer league play.
“We wanted to win the tournament and we’re disappointed we didn’t win it,” Kutt said after the Lawler Tournament. “But overall, lot of players got a chance to show what they can do and I can’t wait until next spring.’’
We have some more hot weather and a whole bunch of cold weather ahead before we see these stars on the baseball field again.
I’m sure that starting in a few weeks, we’ll all find a way to amuse ourselves before then.