By Mark Gregory
The Southwest Prairie Conference has some of the best pitchers in the Joliet area with the likes of Plainfield North’s Brady Corrigan and Minooka’s Joe Butler to name a pair.
A name that has earned its way onto that list is Romeoville junior Jeffrey Zack.
The Tulane University recruit made his first start of the season last week opposite of Corrigan and despite taking the loss to the Tigers, impressed his coach with his outing.
“This was his first start of the year. It was a very good outing and probably the best I’ve seen him throw,” said Romeoville coach Dave Haskins. “It was nice to have him back and it’s nice that Kyle (Massaro) doesn’t have to put the team on his back. We have a nice one-two punch and we have to keep on building up our three, four, five. We have good options for conference and in the playoffs, we have two guys who can go with playoff experience and we are excited about that.”
Zack was happy with the outing.
“It is great,” Zack said about facing Corrigan. “I love to compete and it really amps you up when you know there is another beast on the mound. Our defense played well and I could just stay down, throw low. I felt really good out there and be able to get out there and sling it again.”
Romeoville will look to some young arms in the bullpen this season.
“We think Tyler Horvath and Zack Swearinen can do a nice job,” Haskins said. “They have thrown the ball well for us and they are both sophomores. They are learning and getting better. The mentality and the whole mind set is different at the varsity level.”
While the Spartans are getting their staff back in order, it is the offense that Haskins is now looking to get going.
“Our offense is struggling, but we have faced a lot of Division-I or Division-II pitchers, but that is good for us,” Haskins said. “It’s good competition.
“Kyle Massaro and Matthew Bottcher have been hitting well. Danny (Carreno) has been doing a nice job as our DH and he has been doing a nice job. Hopefully Tyler Horvath and our young sophomores can come through. They are starting to see the ball and fouling them off and putting the ball in play and that is the process we need.”
Romeoville is also getting help from a freshman in an important spot on the field.
“Julio Cajigas is our freshman starting catcher and he has been swinging the ball real well,” Haskins said. “We started him off at ninth in the lineup and he has worked his way to fifth or sixth. He is a talented young kid. He is a special kid and he can be a great one. He is 14 years old and he has a great mindset and he doesn’t back down from anyone.”
Haskins hopes by the time the playoffs arrive, the Spartans will be where they need to compete.
“We always talk that we have to play our best baseball in May and we are getting better,” he said. “Our goals are to win two of every three in conference and more important to be playing our best baseball in May. We never want to be one and done in the playoffs and, knock on wood, we never have been one and done, but they know although our record isn’t the best right now, we are getting there. We know we will see some of the best in the state and come playoff time.”