Oakton baseball expects to ‘conquer’ and has high expectations for 2018 season
(March 2, 2018) The Oakton Community College baseball team is ready to ‘return to conquer’ after coming off a 2017 season that saw the Owls struggle with injuries and tough losses en route to a 25-28 season.
Head coach Bill Fratto (428-229), now in his 13th season, has built a winning tradition at Oakton and says he is ready to put the anomaly of a losing season behind him: “We want to regain our swagger this year, and with the experience of 15 sophomores, we have the ability to compete for a Region IV championship and head far in the playoffs.”
Sophomore outfielder Tom Corlett (Park Ridge, Maine South High School) likes the way the Owls are shaping up for the season.
“We have a lot of depth, and we have a very strong team,” Corlett says. “We’re going to be very tough to play against this year.”
Fratto says that returning infielders Chris Broocolino (Schaumburg, Doral Academy), who batted .318; Sawyer Price (Colorado Springs, Colorado, Air Academy), who compiled a .306 batting average; and Lucas Karz (Mount Prospect, Prospect High School), who registered a .287 batting average, are expected to lead the way offensively.
Freshmen outfielder Trevor Heinlein (Chicago, St. Patrick High School), infielder Jeff Mustari (Des Plaines, Maine West High School), catcher Victor Pimentel (Calvary Christian Academy, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida), outfielder Marco Romero (Caracas, Venezuela), catcher Jack Splett (Wheeling, Wheeling High School), first baseman Dan Sullivan and infielder/outfielder Jose Vera are each expected to make an impact at the plate.
On the mound, the Owls return three key starters from last season who combined for 13 wins: Alex Crinigan (Hampshire, Hampshire High School), Russell Langan (Park Ridge, Maine South High School) and Chase Pearce (Kokomo, Indiana, Kokomo High School). Freshmen Tommy Gertner (Northbrook, Glenbrook North High School), Luis Savigne (Hollander, Florida, West Park High School) and Joe Sullivan (Mundelein, Mundelein High School) will compete for the last two spots in the rotation. Sophomores Bailey Egan (Chicago, Mount Carmel High School) and Kyle MacRae (Northbrook, Glenbrook North High School) will play vital roles out of the bullpen.
“We have good depth in our pitching staff and it will be important to see who emerges as the season continues,” Fratto says. “We will go as far as our pitching staff takes us and our bullpen will play a huge role in our team’s overall success.”
The Owls open the season with two games against Century College at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis Monday, March 5, before embarking on a 10-game spring trip to Florida March 10-17. Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference play begins at 2:30 p.m. Friday, March 23, at Elgin Community College.
“I can’t wait to see how this team unfolds, as the players have worked extremely hard to prepare for the season,” Fratto says. “We just need to be focused on playing consistent baseball and get back to winning 40 games.”
Oakton baseball ‘expects greatness,’ managing high expectations in 2017
(March 17, 2017) Returning just eight players from a 2016 team that finished 38-18, the Oakton Community College baseball team has reloaded with a talented group of 26 freshman and three new sophomores that have the Owls “expecting greatness” in 2017.
Head coach Bill Fratto (403-211), now in his 12th season, has built a winning tradition at Oakton and says now is the time to move from good to great: “Our goal is to win 40 games and compete for a Region IV championship and Division III World Series berth to compete for the national championship.”
Fratto likes the mix of his new recruits and returning players, noting, “the coaches have high expectations for this group.”
The Owls return second baseman-outfielder Alex Niecikowski (.302, 5 HR, 31 RBI last season) and first baseman-outfielder George Karavidas (.322, 25 RBI), both of whom had significant playing time as freshmen last year. Sophomore returnees outfielder-pitcher Pierce Albright and outfielder Grayson Vance will also be looked on to contribute.
The Owls will heavily rely on freshmen to contribute immediately, including third baseman Tom Smart, infielder Gianfranco Sorrentino, first baseman-outfielder Lucas Karz, infielder-outfielder Chris Broccolino, infielder Tim Schau, outfielder Ron Clark, shortstop Sawyer Price, outfielder Nico Torres and outfielder-pitcher Dan Schneberger.
Globe Tech (Argentina) transfer catcher-outfielder Ramiro Milar and Aurora University transfer Connor Quinn, a catcher, are expected to play key roles in the Owls 2017 fortunes as well.
“I like this team defensively, and that will be a key to our team success,” Fratto says. “We will be able to score runs in different ways and compete on the mound.”
Southpaw sophomore Brandon Nowak (7-2, 4.27 ERA, 67 strikeouts), who received a scholarship offer to pitch for the University of Miami Hurricanes next year, will lead a young pitching staff.
“After winning conference pitcher of the year and being named first team all region, Brandon will be No. 1 in the rotation, leading a group of freshman pitchers,” says Fratto. “If our freshmen pitchers step up, it will be a great year.”
Sophomore right-handed returnees Adrian Santiago and Bailey Egan—along with freshmen RHP Chase Pearce, RHP Alex Crinigan, LHP Fred Fitte, LHP Zach Kalosutian, RHP Pat Sexton, RHP Ivan Varela and RHP Russell Langan—are expected to contribute significant innings. Iowa Wesleyan southpaw transfer Jordan Milkolajewski should also make an immediate impact on the pitching staff.
The Owls move from NJCAA Division II to Division III in the 2017 season, and Baseball America says the “Owls should be a national championship contender.” The team’s early-season Florida trip might offer some indication of those chances, as the Owls play a number of nationally-ranked Division II programs.
“We want to put Oakton on the national map to compete for a national championship every year. That is our challenge,” Fratto says. “The key will be taking care of business here (in Illinois). It will be tough to get out of the state.”
The Owls open Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference play at 2:30 p.m. Friday, March 24, at Moraine Valley Community College.
Oakton’s Nowak Accepts Baseball Scholarship Offer from Miami Hurricanes
(Nov. 14, 2016) After one year on the Oakton Community College baseball team under coach Bill Fratto, Brandon Nowak (Jefferson Park-Chicago, Notre Dame High School) grew from a thin-as-a-reed 6-1 pitcher who had few college prospects into a 6-4 left-handed fastballer who throws in the low 90s and is coveted by the top Division I baseball programs in America.
This week after a recruiting trip to the University of Miami Hurricanes baseball facilities in Coral Gables, Fla., Nowak made up his mind about where he will play for the next two years. On Nov. 9, he signed a letter of intent to play for the Hurricanes.“
I really liked everything about the Miami team and the coaches, and they have a great sports marketing department where I can pursue my major,” Nowak explained.
It also doesn’t hurt that he has been promised a scholarship worth more than $18,000 per year. He is the latest among more than 30 players recruited to play Division I baseball during Coach Fratto’s tenure at Oakton.
“Brandon has worked extremely hard for this great opportunity, and he deserves every bit of the recognition he is getting now,” said Coach Fratto.
Nowak, the son of John and Donna Nowak, attended Notre Dame High School in Niles, where he played for coach Nelson Gord. During his senior year, Nowak’s family was rocked by tragedy when his mother suddenly passed away.
“I know she would be proud of me,”Nowak said.
Nowak pitched his way to an 8-1 record for the Owls last season, earning First Team All-Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference and First Team All-Region honors in the process. This coming spring he will play his final season for the Owls before moving down to the warmer weather of Coral Gables.
“Coming to Oakton was a great decision for me. It has helped me develop over this past year and has allowed me to accomplish my dream, which was to play Division I baseball,” said Nowak.