Prep Baseball Report

Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 24 St. Rita

By Andy Sroka
Staff Writer

The Illinois high school season kicks off on March 12th, the first day for regular season games.

Leading up to the opening week of games we will be rolling out team previews of high school teams all across the state and across all classifications, eventually launching our Preseason Power 25.

We will bring you a snapshot of what to expect along with top players and keys to success for that particular team.

Team: St. Rita
Preseason Rank: 24
2017 Record: 29-9
Conference: Chicago Catholic League - Blue
IHSA Class: 4A
Head Coach: John Nee
Playoff Run: Sectional Semi-Finals
2017 Final Rank: 7
Returning Starters: 3
Returning Pitchers: 0



Name State School Class Pos Commitment
Jake Zylman IL St. Rita
2018 C Heartland CC
David Gleaves IL St. Rita 2018 OF South Suburban JC
Frank Napleton IL St. Rita
2018 1B  
Drew Komendant IL St. Rita
2018 OF Wisconsin-Whitewater 
Noah Miller IL St. Rita 2018 OF
Jalen Greer IL St. Rita
2019 INF  Missouri
Brendan Carrane IL St. Rita
2019 INF  
Diego Koval IL St. Rita 2019 RHP  


Killian O’Hanlon, RHP (Heartland CC)
Charlie Rodriguez, OF (Concordia)
Joseph Trezek, OF (Benedictine, IL)
Matt Verdun, INF (Lewis)
Steven Washilewski, LHP (Kansas)
Tyler Woynerowski, 1B (Benedictine, IL)


The Mustangs ran into the Brother Rice buzzsaw last season in the sectional semifinals that even their ace Steven Washilewski couldn’t bail them out of. Brother Rice shut their inter-conference rivals out that day to end their season and, thus, many of the high school baseball careers of the seniors on that team, Washilewski among them.

Jalen GreerSo, St. Rita is going to look plenty different this year -- from its coaching to pitching staffs -- but that won’t make it any less of a contender to the Chicago Catholic League conference title. Notable returnees include junior infielder Jalen Greer (pictured left), a Missouri commit, who’s athletic enough to play anywhere on then infield and will be the generator for his high school lineup, too. Often the Mustang driving Greer home will be senior catcher Jake Zylman, who serves as the team’s biggest power threat.

In addition to his offensive duties, Zylman (pictured right), who will be working his way back from a football injury, will be tasked with corralling an inexperienced pitching staff. St. Rita is returning none of its arms from last year’s rotation to this year’s and it will no doubt be the biggest hurdle for Nee and Zylman. That doesn’t necessarily mean the team won’t have the quality of pitching to help the program achieve another shot at a sectional crown or more, but it could take a little extra effort to get there.

When the Nee-led St. Rita summer team won the 2017 Phil Lawler Summer Classic, junior Diego Koval operated as the team’s No. 1 starter, and he’ll likely head into this spring with the same honor. Koval threw a four-hitter in the summer tournament final and could be one of the key factors in determining how far this team is able to go during the 2018 regular season.

If St. Rita is able to find some pitching, it’s going to look a lot more scary to the CCL’s top dogs because the Mustangs should be able to find enough runs to win on any given day. Senior 1B Frank Napleton seemingly avoided making an out from the batter’s box all summer long and was named the Summer Classic MVP because of it. Junior middle infielder Brendan Carrane was nearly just as lethal a hitter as Napleton in the summer and will be one of the team’s catalysts this spring because of his all-around game. And senior CF David Gleaves should be near or at the top of this Mustangs lineup game in and out and, because of his sheer speed, it’s going to make this team even more potent on offense.


It’s a treacherous game to go into the spring with so many questions on the pitching staff, but the Mustangs really had no other choice. Koval should be able to do more than simply support the rotation, but it’s about where the rest of its outs will be coming from on the mound. Junior LHP Vic Aguilar is someone who might pop up and get St. Rita some crucial outs in 2018 -- he was someone who took advantage of an opportunity given to him on the mound in the summer.

If it is able to stabilize an uneven staff, watch out. A lineup that includes Greer, Zylman, Gleaves, Napleton, and Carrane is very good and should be a nuisance to opposing staffs all spring long. Figuring out its pitching pecking order is a priority in March, but as it gets going, the Mustangs might become one of the teams to beat in the state.


Unfortunately, prior to the start of the 2017, legendary head baseball coach at St. Rita Mike Zunica announced that it would be his last go-round with the Mustangs. Zunica spent 21 years in the dugout at the southwest Chicago high school and won 592 games during his tenure, and though he was never able to clinch a state championship, the baseball field now has his name above it and his retired No. 13 on it.

But it isn’t all bad news.

Taking over for Zunica will be his own right-hand man, John Nee, who spent two decades by his side. Nee had the good fortune of getting his first taste at the helm during the Summer Classic. He coached St. Rita all the way to a first-place finish when the Mustangs downed Lincoln-Way East in the championship last July.

It was a critical time for Nee to further familiarize himself with the players he’ll be lining up this spring. St. Rita is going to look drastically different than it did at the start of 2017, with so many of its everyday starters graduated. Getting a glimpse of how good his team can be last summer was a fun way to get his own head coaching gig going.  

Find more information on the 2018 Mustangs below:

+ Full Schedule
Team Website
+ Gamechanger

Make sure to follow @pbrillinois on Twitter for the most up-to-date coverage throughout the season.