Preseason Team Countdown: No. 12 Lincoln-Way West
March 17, 2014
By Sean Duncan
Leading up to the start of the high school season, we will count down the top 75 preseason teams every day as part of our comprehensive season coverage:
Team: Lincoln-Way West
Preseason Rank: 12
2013 Record: 21-12
Conference: Southwest Suburban Red
IHSA Class: 3A
Head Coach: Jake Zajc
Playoff Run: Lost in Regionals to Lemont
2013 Final Rank: Not Ranked
Returning Starters: 8
Returning Pitchers: 5
Luke Morgan, SS/RHP, 2014 - (South Alabama)
Steven Skolarz, RHP, 2015 - (Indiana)
Zach Speaker, 1B/OF, 2014
Dan Brokop, 1B, 2014
Jake Robbins, INF, 2014
John Saffrahn, RHP, 2015
Drew Clavenna, RHP, 2015
Luke Morgan. The South Alabama recruit is a true two-way impact player, and will be counted on to deliver at the plate and on the mound.
NEWCOMER TO WATCH
Adam Knerr, SS/OF, 2016
As a sophomore pitching in all the big games, Steven Skolarz struck out 58 in 58.6 innings and had a 2.26 ERA.
With eight returning starters back and plenty of pitching depth, the outlook is certainly bright for the Warriors. Frontline pitching is a definite strength, with the return of Morgan (2.61 ERA, 4 saves, 16 IP), Skolarz, Saffrahn (8-0, 0.90 ERA, 44 Ks, 38.6 IP), and Clavenna. Morgan, who is a two-way impact performer, threw limited innings as a junior because he was too valuable in the field. If someone can step up to fill his void at SS when he pitches, the Warriors would certainly benefit. Skolarz has emerged as a No. 1 type pitcher, and is already verballed to Indiana. The hulking 6-foot-5 right-hander, who’s ranked No. 13 in Illinois’ 2015 class and No. 49 overall, has been pitching big games since his freshman year, and with his increased upper-80s velocity and three-pitch arsenal, he should continue to shoulder the load. … The Warriors’ offense struggled at times last year, but with the majority of starters back, it should yield more production. Morgan led the way at the plate by hitting .451 with 10 doubles and 22 RBI. Big left-handed hitting Speaker (.308 BA, 12 doubles, 23 RBI) and Brokop (15 RBI) have run-producing potential. Robbins (.320) is a hard-nosed versatile player who gets on base.
The Warriors have an unenviable road ahead. As well as they play this season, they still have to get through the likes of Lincoln-Way North, Lincoln-Way Central, Andrew and Bradley-Bourbonnais in conference. And once they get out of conference, it’s even an even harder road. The Warriors were placed in the toughest 3A regional in the state with eventual-champion Joliet Catholic and Lemont - both of whom are ranked preseason top 10. So … in any other regional/sectional pod, Lincoln-Way West would be a serious contender to advance to Joliet. Despite being ranked No. 12 in the state, the Warriors still will play the role of the underdog.
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