Although the Fenwick High School baseball team lost a stellar senior class to graduation last spring, the Friars appear well-positioned to defend their Chicago Catholic League White Division championship.

“Our younger kids saw how close last year’s senior class was and that’s trickled over this spring,” Fenwick coach Dave Hogan said. “The seniors from last year included everybody so the juniors always felt part of the winning. That feeling is definitely carrying over this spring.”

Last season, the Friars finished 28-7 with a 14-6 record in the CCL White, won a regional title and advanced to the semifinals of the Niles West Sectional. While star players like Justin Rodriguez, Kevin Forde, Quinn Snarskis and Michael Krecek have moved on to college, plenty of experienced players return for Fenwick.

Junior Casey O’Laughlin, senior Jay Militello, Jack Hendricks and senior Adam Williams headline a talented roster.

O’Laughlin and Militello hit .383 and .389, respectively, last season. O’Laughlin also plays football at Fenwick, while Militello (signed with Lewis University for baseball) was a key reserve on the basketball team which went 28-3 this winter.

On the baseball diamond, they anchor the Friars’ pitching staff and outfield with their excellent athleticism and versatility.

“We have some new faces in the lineup that we are excited about,” O’Laughlin said. “This is a special group of guys with a ‘next man up’ mentality. We’re looking to take it one game at a time and build on last year’s success.”

Williams, a senior, will also contribute at multiple positions. He will see playing time at the corner infield positions, serve as the team’s primary designated hitter and pitch.

Hendricks, who hit .394 last year, returns as the Friars’ fleet-footed leadoff hitter and centerfielder. He’ll be followed in the order by promising junior shortstop Anthony Cavalieri.

O’Laughlin, junior third baseman Harrison Hayes and Militello will comprise the middle of the batting order.

Junior left fielder/pitcher Sherman Martin, senior first baseman Mike Faul and outfielder/first baseman Kelly Frank are also expected to make in impact.

“Our biggest concern will be replacing all-state catcher Justin Rodriguez,” Hogan said. “We have two young catchers, junior Ethan Gerstner and sophomore Mike Cerceo, who are both very talented.”

Hogan has even more options on the mound.

Mililtello (3-0 last season), O’Laughlin and Williams will lead the rotation, but an influx of arms including Justin Sosa, John Murphy, Marty Stein, Paddy Dwyer, Sean Herbert, Ian Crowell and Martin provide Fenwick great pitching depth.

O’Laughlin, Dwyer and Crowell are lefties, providing the rotation some nice versatility.

In their season opener (March 21), the Friars showed off some of their pitching prowess in a 3-2 win in eight innings over Holy Trinity. Sosa picked up the win in relief as Fenwick used four pitchers. O’Laughlin led offensively with two hits and an RBI, while Hendricks and Martin each had a triple.

The Friars will travel to Orlando, Fla. to play in a series of games at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex (March 28-April 2).

“Going down to Florida is always a great trip for us,” Hogan said. “It’s an opportunity to bond as a team and get in a lot of baseball games against good competition.”

Fenwick baseball scouting report

Head coach: Dave Hogan (36th season, 761-399)

Team record last season: 27-8, 14-6 (1st) CCL White; lost 5-4 to Evanston in 4A sectional semifinal.

Key returners: Casey O’Laughlin, junior, pitcher/outfielder; Jay Mililtello, senior, pitcher/outfielder; Jack Hendricks, outfielder; Adam Williams, senior, pitcher/third baseman

Newcomer(s) to watch: Harrison Hayes, junior, third baseman; Anthony Cavalieri, junior shortstop; Ethan Gerstner, junior, catcher; Mike Cerceo, sophomore, catcher

Quote: “I really like our depth, particularly in the pitching rotation this season.” Fenwick head coach Dave Hogan

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Marty Farmer

The Illinois Press Association recently honored Marty with the 1st & 2nd Place Awards for Best Sports Feature for his article He's in an Oak Park state of mind: Former OPRF star Iman Shumpert returns...