The Lyons Township baseball team is primed and ready for another season of domination.
After claiming first last year in the West Suburban (Silver) Conference, LT (34-7, 15-3) has the clientele to wreak havoc once again. Last year, the Lions ventured to the Elite Eight before bowing out in the quarterfinals, but LT coach George Ushela believes this team can go even further.
“Obviously our goal is to get back to state, but we also want to make sure to keep things simple,” he said. “We definitely feel like we have what it takes to get there. It is just a matter of putting it all together and playing good, sound baseball.”
The LT winning formula will begin at the top with its senior class. Look no further than All-State right-fielder Casey McMurray, who hit .496 last year with 13 doubles, five home runs and 44 RBIs. McMurray will move to center this year and be joined by Jack Easley in left. Alex Georges will start in right, while Grant Filipitch will be first in the rotation for the Lions and will also play third base. Filipitch, who received All-Conference honors last year, recorded a 6-1 record on the mound, including a 1.59 ERA. Filipitch was also a force at the plate with a .375 batting average, including 15 doubles and four home runs.
“We expect a lot out of Filipitch and we plan on having him bat behind McMurray,” Ushela said. “If a team chooses to walk McMurray, then they will have to deal with Filipitch, so they make a strong one-two punch.”
Senior Luke Gacek will be the starting shortstop and will be the Lions leadoff hitter. Gacek hit .259 last season, striking out just five times. Senior Mark Hochberg, who hit .311 last year, will play second.
The junior class will also play a big role in the Lions success. Pitcher Josh Heller will be number two or three in the rotation after playing a large part in the last two LT summer state championship wins. Ed Viliunas will spend time at catcher, third base and relief pitcher. Junior Brian Lorenz will also be a utility player, playing third base, outfield and pitcher. Lorenz was voted MVP of the summer state tourney, turning in two, four-hit games in the series. Junior C.J. Esposito rounds out the starting nine. The lefty will be a part of the LT rotation as well as playing first.
As for the rest of the season, Ushela is taking the cautious approach.
“I really believe the kids are focused and ready for the season,” he said. “We play in one of the most competitive leagues is the state, so we know we have to play well each time we take the field. As long as we keep our composure, I think we can accomplish big things.”
The Lions’ home opener is scheduled for Thursday against Montini (4 p.m.).