Prep Baseball Report

3A State Finals Preview

By: Jadyn Hsieh-Bailey
Illinois Intern

The stage is set for this year’s 3A IHSA State Finals. Morris, Crystal Lake Central, Lemont, and Highland all make their way down to Duly Health & Care Field in Joliet for a chance at the State championship. With the power arms and overwhelming offenses of these teams, the games are sure to excite.

Beginning tomorrow at 10 am, Morris and Crystal Lake Central will make up the first matchup of the State finals. Directly after what will be a close duel, Highland and Lemont will face off at 1 pm. All will be finalized on Saturday, as the third-place game is set for 10 am and the championship 1 pm.

With extensive coverage of both these games and the 4A State playoff games, you want to be sure not to miss the action. You can find the coverage on our Twitter @PrepBaseballIL.

Below, learn more about the four teams that will be competing for the 2024 3A State championship.

Morris (29-3)

As the #4 ranked 3A team in our most recent Power 25 rankings, Morris is a team rolling on dangerous momentum. Morris extended their 19 game win-streak by battling off the tough Sycamore for a 5-3 Super-sectional championship. With their last loss coming on April 11th, Morris haven’t lost in months and they don’t plan on losing now. At this point, there is more than enough confidence to come out of this weekend with two more wins.

Jack Wheeler (2025; Illinois) leads the way, dominating every pitcher he’s come up against. The #3 ranked 2025 3B in the state leads Morris in batting average (.414), hits (41), RBIs (40), triples (3), HR (4), co-leads in runs (42), and is joint-second on the team with 10 doubles. AJ Zweeres (2024) then adds to the offensive power by leading in doubles with 11, co-leading in runs with 42, and adding on 25 RBIs and 38 hits to accompany his .392 batting average.

The two-way star Cody DelFavero’s (2024; Parkland College) .378 batting average, 34 RBIs, 10 doubles, and 4 HRs, and Griffin Zweeres’s (2025) .363 batting average, 37 RBIs, 6 doubles, and 3 HRs contribute even more to a dangerous offense.

Defensively, RHP Brett Bounds (2025) and LHP Cody DelFavero are the aces for Morris. With dominance on the bump this season, Bounds has posted 60 Ks, a 1.15 ERA, and a flawless 8-0 record. The left-handed DelFavero, on the other hand, is 12-0 with 83 Ks and a 1.38 ERA.

There is no doubt that Morris can earn two wins on the weekend led by their aces and their deep offense. Especially on a hot 19 game win-streak, Morris has all the confidence they need.

Lemont (30-9)

In one of the most difficult postseason paths, 30-9 Lemont have triumphed over powerhouse programs St. Laurence, St. Rita, and De La Salle en route to their third State final appearance. The momentum is great following such big victories. With the talent they possess, adding a third State championship title to their collection is in the cards from their perspective.

Three high production bats lead the Lemont offense. Max Michalak (2024; Parkland College) is batting .402 with 41 hits, 25 RBIs, and 3 triples on the season, including a team-high 12 doubles and 40 runs. Jacob Parr (2025) has had an immense junior season as he leads his team in batting average at .415, hits with 44, RBIs with 35, triples with 5, and HRs with 3, to go with his 37 runs and 8 doubles. Noah Tomaras (2024; Missouri-St. Louis) has also dominated in the Lemont offense with a .379 batting average, 36 hits, 29 RBIs, 11 doubles, and 3 HRs.

LHP Cannon Madej (2026), RHP Donovan Moleski (2025), and RHP Shea Glotzbach (2025) will be relied on to take care of things on the bump. Showing extreme poise, the three have led the way for Lemont up to this point. Moleski’s 5-0 record and 2.25 ERA is the command that Lemont will be needing, while Glotzbach’s 48 Ks and the most innings pitched for Lemont is the reliance that he will be looked upon for. Cannon Madej can be expected to throw an ace level performance as he has all season. With a 7-2 record and 1.93 ERA, the LHP will be expected to take the mound in one of the two games if they are to win.

After making their way through a most difficult postseason schedule, and with the heavy bats expected to continue their tear, stopping this Lemont side from continuing their winning ways may prove to be a more than difficult task.

Highland (32-6-1)

After beginning their season on a 25-1-1 hot-streak, the Bulldogs lost five of their final eight games of the regular season in what seemed like the worst timing to do so. Despite this shaky finish, however, the Bulldogs have put this far past themselves and have since rolled through the postseason. A 3-2 Sectional championship win over the highly ranked Mascoutah solidified their confidence and they have not turned back since. The Bulldogs, now the most confident they’ve been all season, take their confidence and talent into tomorrow with only two wins needed.

Jake Ottensmeier (2024; Eastern Illinois) has been the best offensive weapon for the Bulldogs. The power-hitting outfielder leads his team with a .397 batting average, 48 hits, 49 runs, 11 doubles, and 2 HR. The #8 ranked 2024 OF in the state will need to bring this production tomorrow for Highland.

Alongside Ottensmeier, Chase Knebel (2025) batting .340 with a team-high 38 RBIs leads the way, and Trey Koishor (2024; Southwestern Illinois JC) with 37 hits and a .352 batting average is a consistent threat. Decklan Riggs’s (2024) .337 batting average, 27 RBIs and 6 doubles poses a power hitting danger, as does Garrin Stone’s 25 RBIs and 7 doubles. With this offensive depth, no defense feels comfortable.

In addition to their deep offense, Highland’s ace arms have dominated this season. The two aces, Trent Clemons (2024; Rockhurst University) and Chase Knebel (2025) may have what it takes to get the Bulldogs the two wins they need. Clemons has proven that runs do not come easy when he is on the bump. At 7-3 with 53 Ks and a 1.72 ERA, the Bulldogs will look for Clemons to take care of his opponents as he has done all season. For Knebel, dominant may be an understatement. The ace LHP has an 11-0 record on the season, 63 Ks, and an unbelievable 0.31 ERA.

Finding their stride better than ever before, the Highland Bulldogs certainly have the ace arms and exceptional offense to be confident in making a title run tomorrow.

Crystal Lake Central (20-14)

Despite 14 losses on the season, Crystal Lake Central may be the most comfortable team in this State final. They’ve breezed through the postseason, with their closest game being all the way back in the Regional semi-final. Following a 5-1 Super-sectional championship win against Depaul College Prep, the Tigers have now improved their win streak to 11 wins. At this point, they are more than ready for tomorrow and this weekend’s State finals.

James Dreher (2025), Sam Kempf (2024), and Jaden Obaldo (2024; McHenry County JC) will power the Tigers offense if they are to complete a State championship run. James Dreher is batting .363 with 6 doubles and 20 RBIs. The power-hitting Kempf leads the Tigers with 28 RBIs, 6 doubles, and 4 HRs. And Obaldo is hitting .373 with 22 RBIs, while leading the Tigers in runs with 31, hits with 38, and an incredible 17 doubles.

With no worries relying on their bats, the pitching performance of the Tigers will come with little worry as well. Tigers ace Tommy Korn (2024; USMMA) has 36 Ks on the year with a 2.41 ERA. Connor Gilbour (2025; Ohio) has 3 wins on the season and has dominated hitters with a 0.70 ERA and only giving up 2 ER on the entire season. Lastly, Rhet Ozment (2025) caps off the Tigers’ commanding pitching with 4 wins of his own and an impressive 1.84 ERA.

Following a comfortable postseason run thus far, the momentum and the three ace arms that Crystal Lake Central have may prove to be enough for the Tigers to get their hands on a 3A State championship.

With each team loaded with offensive weapons and deep pitching staffs, there is no telling which of these powerhouses will come out on top. All that is known is that by Saturday afternoon, one of these dynamic teams will be crowned 2A State champion!

Extensive coverage of these games and the 4A State playoff games will be available on our Twitter @PrepBaseballIL. You don’t want to miss it!