By Joshua Sutker ‘23
After coming up short of our goal in the 2022 season, the swinging ‘Saders are back and ready to go for another great spring.
Sophomore infielder Aiden Nohava said, “Watching last year’s team from the outside, I was eager to start the season up. I know that we did a lot of good things last year, but we didn’t get that state championship.”
The Crusaders finished in third place of 4A state finals last year. They ended with a regular season record of 36-6 and went 16-2 in conference play. Their regular season record was good enough to be named Chicago Catholic League Blue Champions, their second consecutive first place finish.
The team from last year graduated six position players in the starting lineup and two starting pitchers. One starting player transferred out at the beginning of the year, leaving another hole. This left a lot of roles open and ready to be earned by the hungriest guys that are up next.
Senior outfielder Danny Durkin said, “The guys from last year raised the bar for us. It is important for us seniors to lead the young bucks the same way we were led.”
After months of off-season lifts and open gyms, everyone is itching for the sun to come out so they can get back out on the diamond. The Crusaders are set to match up against the nation’s top talent this spring.
Senior infielder Sean Sullivan said, “I get excited looking at our schedule. We play a lot of different teams in a lot of different places. This is my senior year and the last chance to leave my mark on the baseball program. I owe it to my brothers to leave everything I have on the field.”
The Crusaders will start their season with a non-conference home game against Maine South on Wednesday, March 15.
They will travel to Cary, North Carolina, to play in the USA Baseball High School Invitational on March 29. When they come home on April 1, they will begin conference play against Fenwick.
Over spring break, they will travel down to Louisville, Kentucky, for four exhibition games against the top three teams in Kentucky. St. Xavier High School, the 2022 state championships, McCracken County High School, and Trinity High School (double-header) will all have to face the grittiest team from the south side of Chicago.
When they return on April 18, the Crusaders will begin their CCL Blue conference games. Triumphing to regain the crown, the Crusaders will have two games against each opposing team. Marmion Academy, Mount Carmel, Providence, St. Rita, Loyola, St. Laurence, and Brother Rice are all a part of the CCL Blue.
The final regular season game will be the traditional Battle Of Pulaski at home on May 14.
The Do It Stevie’s Way Tournament will take place from May 17 to May 20. This tournament is held every year at the end of the year. This is a great opportunity to play against talented teams to prepare for the playoffs.
The 2023 IHSA State Tournament will begin on May 27 with the regional championship on May 30. The sectional tournament will take place from May 31 to June 3. The Super Sectional will take place on June 5. The state semifinals will take place on June 9, and the State Championship is on June 10.
Everyone in the building will be supporting the Crusaders in their journey to bring home a state championship for the first time since 1975.
Photo by Mike Emanuelson@mikeemanuelson