Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 9 Sandburg

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: Carl Sandburg
Preseason Rank: 9
2017 Record: 24-8
Conference: Southwest Suburban (Blue)
IHSA Class: 4A
Head Coach: Jim Morsovillo
Playoff Run: Super-sectionals appearance 
2017 Final Rank: 12
Returning Starters: 6
Returning Pitchers: 5


Kevin Lane, RHP (Wisconsin-Milwaukee)
Tim Dobrik, LHP (Wisconsin-Platteville)
Matthew Michalkowski, OF (Illinois Central JC)


Name State School Class Pos Commitment
Branden Comia
IL Sandburg 2018 SS/RHP Illinois
Ryan Hampe
IL Sandburg 2018 C Illinois-Chicago
Evan Tenuta
IL Sandburg 2018 RHP/OF Notre Dame
Andrew Tenison
IL Sandburg 2018 3B Lewis
Seth Masters
IL Sandburg 2018 1B/LHP Illinois-Springfield
Andrew DeMatteo
IL Sandburg 2018 OF Augustana (IL)
Scott Stemmons IL  Sandburg 2018  RHP
Erik Herold
IL  Sandburg 2018  RHP  
Tommy Windt IL Sandburg 2019 2B/OF/RHP  
Ryan Leland
IL Sandburg 2019 RHP/1B  
Nick Skrabis IL Sandburg 2019 3B/RHP  
Brian Adams IL Sandburg 2019 INF/OF  


As a sophomore last year, Tommy Windt started 27 games for the Eagles, mostly in the outfield and at second base. Despite hitting just .245 in 2017, his talent supersedes a batting average like that. With a season of varsity playing time under his belt, Windt will be given a much larger role for this team and he’ll see innings on the mound, too. He’s continued to add strength to his 6-foot-3, 187-pound frame and his fastball recently sat 82-83 mph, touching 84 at the Preseason All-State. He should be a key two-way contributor for the Eagles this spring.

Tommy Windt (2.11.18)


The heartbeat of the Eagles, Branden Comia, is this team’s X-Factor. His on- and off-field leadership is the pulse of the team and his skills at short, in the batter’s box, and even on the mound will set the tone for the kind of season Sandburg’s able to have.

Comia is arguably the best all-around baseball player in the state. He can do it all at shortstop, he has turned himself into a well-above average runner and hits for power and average at the plate. The Illinois commit is poised for a huge senior season and will also be used on the mound more than ever this spring. Last year he was called upon to close from time to time but there is a chance he will be asked to start some games this spring. Comia has one last chance at state and he has the experience and talent to lead the Eagles to Joliet.

Branden Comia (2.4.18)


Sandburg marched all the way to the super-sectionals last year behind a less-than-experienced group but a talented one nonetheless. Last year, they were led by two IHSA All-State selections, shortstop Comia and catcher Ryan Hampe.

Comia is going to be a four-year starter on Coach Morsovillo’s varsity team and is currently the top-ranked shortstop in the state. He has a reputation as a team leader and will be relied upon to command an infield defense that remains unchanged from a season ago. As a defender, he’s as good as they come and he is extremely dangerous with the bat as well. Last season Comia hit .418 with 12 doubles, six home runs, drove in 26 and scored 32 runs. Besides Comia, the Eagles have one of the top catchers in the state, Hampe. In addition to being selected to the PBR Third Team All-State in 2017, Hampe also ranks as the No. 3 catcher in Illinois. He’s both an efficient defender and a threat at the plate -- he slugged seven homers for the Orland Park high school last year and hit .466. Morsovillo himself said Hampe stifles the opposition’s running game.

Hampe will often be catching the team’s ace Evan Tenuta. The righty Tenuta can also be classified as one of the best at his position in the state. He’s the No. 5 RHP in his class and has done this with a fastball that sits in the 88-90 range and has topped 92 mph previously. He pairs that fastball with a sharp, hard breaking ball and a straight changeup. Atop this rotation, Tenuta will be leaned on heavily.

All three of the aforementioned are seniors which is both exciting for an experienced Sandburg squad and pressure-inducing. With its top three players all a spring semester away from graduating and moving on to play Division-I ball, the 2018 season could represent the Eagles’ best chance at state glory since the high school won it all in 2002.

But it wouldn’t be fair to label this team top heavy, either. Comia, Hampe, and Tenuta will be lined up alongside fellow seniors and key contributors 3B Andrew Tenison and 1B Seth Masters. Both infielders are known for their steady defensive abilities that’s going to make this not-so-deep pitching staff’s life easier. Tenison and Masters both hit above .300 as juniors and starters last year -- the third baseman also bopped five homers, too. And as mentioned in the “Newcomer To Watch” section above, the junior Windt could round out the infield this year. Look for senior Andrew DeMatteo, junior switch-hitter Brian Adams and junior Nick Skrabis to add some depth to the lineup as well.

Seniors Scott Stemmons and Erik Herold will probably fill out this rest of the starting rotation unless juniors like Windt and Ryan Leland exceed expectations, which is possible.

The outfield has some question marks, seeing as it’s going to be an entirely new unit. Tenuta should actually get some time out there and senior DeMatteo will as well.

Nitpicking for a team’s weakness, however, is the most obvious sign that you’re looking at one of the state’s top contenders for conference, regional, sectional, and even state splendor.


A tough super-sectional loss last year to Edwardsville still hangs over the heads of this group considering most of them were on the field to experience it. That’s probably a good thing. Then juniors, the trio of Comia, Hampe, and Tenuta will remember what kind of immense effort it takes to even earn a trip to a super-sectional appearance. This is an intangible that could boost the Eagles forward in their 2018 campaign.

They’re returning a bountiful six starters and five pitchers. Two of them earned All-state honors and three are verbally committed to play D-I ball. A foundation this sturdy supports the skyscraper high hopes Sandburg has this spring.

Find more information on the 2018 Eagles below:

+ Full Schedule
Team Website
+ Gamechanger

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