It looks like it will be an arms race again in the West Suburban Conference Silver Division this season. Luckily, the Lyons Township High School baseball team appears equipped for the challenge.

While fellow contenders Oak Park and River Forest and Hinsdale Central have excellent pitching staffs, the defending conference champs can match up with any opponent on the mound.

Junior Grant Leader led the staff in 2017 with a 5-1 record, 0.65 earned run average and 67 strikeouts in 43 innings pitched. The Illinois recruit was an all-conference pick and Pitcher of the Year in the West Suburban Silver. Senior Matt Piento, another all-conference selection, was extremely effective with a 3-0 record, 1.25 ERA and 54 punchouts in 54 innings.

“The one-two punch of Leader and Piento made us very successful last year,” coach Kevin Diete said. “Hopefully the addition of Michael Walsh and a couple other junior pitchers will make us even better. As a team, we held a 1.48 ERA last season.”

Returning after a season-ending elbow injury last season, Walsh is slotted for the third spot in the rotation. Senior Nic Hughes and juniors Brendan Lawry, Andrew Gatland and Eric Steensma could all contribute as either spot starters or relievers.

While Diete is looking for some improvement offensively this season, the Lions have several good hitters. Senior catcher Bryce Moskiewicz, a Pitt commit, batted .338 with 15 RBIs and 17 runs scored last year. Hughes hit .303 with 8 RBIs in just 33 at-bats and senior outfielder Jack Ferraro had a .302 average with 18 RBIs and 22 runs scored.

Junior newcomers Danny Machaj, Jack Weston, Thomas Remijas and Jack Hamond are all likely starters.

“Our goals this year are to win the West Suburban Silver Championship again,” said Diete, “but that will be a tough task considering the talent level of OPRF and Hinsdale Central. In addition, we are trying to get past our first regional championship since I took over in 2015.”

 Part of the Lions’ problem getting deeper into the playoffs is simply competing in arguably the toughest sectional in the state. Chicago Catholic League powers Mt. Carmel, St. Laurence, St. Rita and Brother Rice all stand in the way of a sectional title.

Nevertheless, LTHS has enough talent to win conference, regional, sectional and perhaps even a state title this season.

“I think the LT baseball tradition will continue with pitching and defense as the strongest aspects of our team,” Diete said. “This year we will be looking to improve on our offensive numbers to combine for a better team effort in achieving more success.”

LTHS baseball scouting report

Lyons Township Lions

Head coach: Kevin Diete

Record last year: 24-5 (15-3 West Suburban Silver); Lost to St. Rita 5-0 in a Class 4A regional final

Top players: Grant Leader, P, Jr.; Matt Piento, P/OF, Sr.; Bryce Moskiewicz, C, Sr.; Jack Ferraro, OF, Sr.; Nic Hughes, P/1B, Sr.

Outlook: The Lions have improved every season under Diete. Coming off a 24-5 campaign, another winning season appears likely. Excellent pitching and defense should ensure LTHS is highly competitive in conference and the postseason.