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Lessons learned : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Lessons learned
Oswego East baseball team grows in Kaminski's second season

by Christine Bolin Dascher


What exactly did Bobby Kaminski learn in his first year as head coach in 2013?

"A lot," said Kaminski, who was a varsity assistant for five years. "I learned to take every day of the season day by-day-by-day and I learned not to look at the next week, the next month and the next conference series and just to enjoy every day we are out there working with the kids. I learned a lot about the balance between balancing practices and planning out what the daily lineup is, and going out there and executing and how much of the responsibility and role of the head coach is prior to the minute you step out on the field, getting everyone to gel and capitalizing on everyone's strengths."

The Wolves capped last season at 13-16 overall and 10-11 in the Southwest Prairie Conference. The season ended on May 20, when No. 17 seed Romeoville upset No. 14 Oswego East, 8-5, in the Class 4 Romeoville Regional play-in game.

"I think (last season) was a step in the right direction," Oswego East senior centerfielder Zach Behnke said. "We didn't really know what to expect coming in to it with a new coach. Now, we know what (Kaminski's) coaching style is like and what he wants to do with the team. That will definitely help us."

"I thought last year was pretty successful for the program overall, especially with the new head coach," Oswego East senior infielder/catcher Nick Dabrowski added. "I thought (Kaminski) put us in the right direction and move us forward. It's going to help us tremendously, especially with us being juniors last year and being there a year with him."

Of the 20-man roster, exactly 10 players are seniors and 10 are juniors. In addition to Behnke and Dabrowski, the other seniors are Tyler Engleman (infielder/outfielder/pitcher), Josh Hemmer (catcher), Zach Hutten (pitcher), Austin Kapusinski (outfielder/pitcher), Jared Litkenhus (infielder who was injured last year), Jon Mohler (infielder/pitcher), Eddie Perez (pitcher) and Isaiah Spencer (outfielder/pitcher).

The top returning statistic leaders at the plate are Kapusinski (20 RBIs, .451 average, 31 hits), Spencer (17 hits, 11 RBIs, .288), Behnke (.240 average), Engleman (14 hits, five RBIs, .286 batting average) and Nick Dabrowski (.200, eight hits, three RBIs).

"I think the success of the season is going to come down to the seniors who were with the team last year," Dabrowski said. "We already know what to do and how to do it. It's just the matter of getting it done."

"As a group last year, we had a lot of juniors who were role players," Kaminski added. "As seniors, we expect them to be more key contributors this year. We had a couple guys who started here and there (Behnke, Dabrowski, Engleman) and Austin, but a lot of these guys played different roles, whether it was pitching or pinch-hitting here and there. But we anticipate several of them being in starting roles consistently and develop leadership roles within the team."

The juniors are Noah Anderson (infielder), Zak Deverman (outfielder/pitcher), Trevor Kalish (infielder), Tyler Linna (infielder/outfielder/ pitcher), Michael Mackey (infielder/pitcher), Shavam Patel (pitcher), Matt Rohde (infielder), Jonathan Schurr (infielder), Chandler Stitch (outfielder/pitcher) and Andrew Stout (pitcher).

"I had the chance to see a lot of this group of juniors play this summer, and I really like the group in terms of their work ethic and versatility," Kaminski said. "We have very few guys on our newcomer list that are limited to what position they might be able to play. A lot of them can be in the infield or outfield."

Nothing is set just yet for the Wolves, but if a three-game series were to begin, Kaminski would probably have Engleman, Deverman and Stout be the three starters. In the top four of the batting order, it would most likely be Kapusinski, Behnke, Dabrowski and Litkenhus - not necessarily in that order.

"We have nine open positions in terms of the lineup," Kaminski said. "We are trying to promote competition from within and get the best out of kids every single day. We are going to let things play out and hopefully have some guys win some positions."

The Wolves are scheduled to start the season on Saturday at home against Streamwood, but due to the brutal winter weather, that game, along with the first few of the season, are unlikely to take place and will have to be rescheduled or canceled. Southwest Prairie Conference play for Oswego East begins with rival Oswego on April 8-9-10 with the first game at home.

Last year in league play, Minooka won the conference title this year at 18-3, followed by Plainfield South at 17-4. Both Plainfield North and Plainfield Central ended up 11-10 but the Tigers ended up in third ahead of the Wildcats due to head-to-head competition between the two teams.

Oswego East and Plainfield East both went 10-11, but the Wolves finished up ahead of the Bengals due to head-to-head competition (Oswego East won two of the three regular season games). Oswego finished in seventh at 5-16 while Romeoville went 2-19.

"Based on the seasons the teams in our conference had, I think this year is going to be tougher than last year," Kaminski said. "Plainfield East had a great summer, and I know they will be competing toward the top, along with Minooka, Plainfield North and Plainfield South, and of course us and the rivalry with Oswego. While we've had success against Romeoville in the regular season (The Wolves swept the Spartans in all three games), they are the team that has bounced us from the playoffs the past two years, so there is no team I can look at on our conf schedule and feel we can take a breather when we play them."

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