Calvin Proskey delivers a pitch during the Huskies game versus the Lions on May 1, 2021. (photo provided by J. Todd Phillips).

After serving as an assistant the past three seasons, Kevin Campbell is ready to step into the role of head coach for this year’s Oak Park and River Forest High School baseball team.

“To be honest, I couldn’t be happier,” said Campbell, who succeeds Joe Parenti. “It’s always been a dream to be able to run my own program, and the history of Oak Park adds to it.”

The Huskies, traditionally one of the Chicago area’s top teams, are coming off a 17-8 pandemic-abbreviated season which ended with a 9-8 loss in the sectional final to New Trier. So far, Campbell likes what he sees from this year’s unit.

“We look great. We’re really competitive,” he said. “We’re deep; this is probably the most we’ve had since I’ve been here.”

The Huskies, ranked No. 21 in the preseason Prep Baseball Report, open the season March 17 at home against Evanston.

OPRF’s lineup returns three regulars from last year, including senior first baseman Dan Michaud (.455 avg., 23 RBI, senior right-fielder Jack Flagg (Illinois Wesleyan signee; .360, 15 RBI), and sophomore center-fielder Mason Phillips (.242, 12 RBI, 12 stolen bases). Senior Giovanni Pamias also figures to see significant playing time.

“Mason is one of the fastest players in Illinois,” Campbell said. “He will be a guy that we rely on to take the extra base and force some throws.”

Mason Phillips (No. 19) readies for a pitch during OPRF and LTHS’s game on May 1, 2021. (Photo provided by J. Todd Phillips).

The Huskies have several newcomers who hope to make an impact in the lineup, including junior infielder Kevin Cortez, junior catcher J.P. Ferraro, freshman infielder Ethan Moore and junior infielder Ezra Moore.

“We have the ability to put up a ton of runs with the bats we have on the team,” Campbell said.

OPRF has had good pitching over the years, and this year is no exception. Junior Calvin Proskey (4-2, 4.01 ERA) filled in for injured ace Grant Holderfield (now at Indiana University), and Campbell is looking to more good things from him as well as the others on the staff.

“Calvin did some great things for us and filled some roles,” he said. “David Andolina (2-1, 4.66 ERA) probably had more of a down year than he wanted to, but he’s looked the best that we’ve ever seen him. Between Calvin and David, they’re a 1A and 1B.”

Other key mound contributors are expected to be seniors Cole Shamhart (2-1, 1.34 ERA) and Jack Spinks (1-0, 3.43), whom Campbell says will be important both as a starter and a reliever.

The Huskies have a daunting non-conference schedule, including early season road trips to Libertyville, Maine South and powerhouses Mount Carmel and New Trier. 

“I don’t know who’s got a tougher schedule in the state than we do,” Campbell said. “We don’t really have any tune-up games this season, so we’re going to have to hit the ground running really quick.”

And it doesn’t get any easier for OPRF in the West Suburban Conference Silver Division, perennially one of the area’s best leagues.

“The conference is going to be tough,” said Campbell. “Hinsdale Central’s going to be good again this year, Downers Grove North has three [NCAA] Division 1 commits, and Lyons Township is always tough. Then Downers Grove South is our crossover opponent and they’ll be good too. We’re going through a grinder, and it’s going to be like the playoffs.”

Join the discussion on social media!