Oakton’s Fratto Honored as College Coach of the Year by Pitch and Hit Club of Chicago
(Jan. 29, 2019) On the heels of the Oakton Community College baseball team being ranked No. 1 in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) preseason poll, head coach Bill Fratto was named 2019 Pitch and Hit Club of Chicago College Coach of the Year. Fratto was honored at a ceremony held Sunday, Jan. 27, at the Tinley Park Convention Center.
“Receiving respect at the ceremony was quite emotional,” says Fratto, a resident of Wheeling. “As a coach, you earn the benefits of the achievements of your players, and we had a storybook season in 2018. I’m very proud of everyone and the incredible things they achieved to put me in the situation to win this prestigious honor. I’m very humbled and grateful of this award. This achievement also gives national recognition to the college and provides another reason why players should come to Oakton.”
Fratto was among an esteemed group of baseball honorees, including former Chicago White Sox announcer Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, Bren Spillane, Pat Murphy, Dan Plesac, Daniel Palka and Natalie Niekro, among others.
The recognition is among several postseason coaching accolades Fratto received after guiding the Owls to a historic 2018 season that culminated with the team’s first national championship and a school-record 44 wins in his 13th season. Previous awards include the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA)/Diamond Sports NJCAA Division III National Coach of the Year, Division III World Series Coach of the Year and Region IV Division III Coach of the Year.
However, Fratto says that this season will be different: “I’m looking forward to the challenge of repeating in 2019. This will be a hard accomplishment because we’re now the big dogs, and every team will be coming after us with all they have.”
In the Owls’ national championship season, Fratto’s squad finished second in the nation in runs scored (503), walks (289) and sacrifice flies (31) and third in hits (632), extra base hits (187), at bats (1,887) and total bases (932). Also, Oakton tallied 425 RBI and 45 home runs while amassing a .335 team batting average.
The Owls’ 44-17 record in 2018 pushed Fratto’s career mark to 472-256, a .648 winning percentage. Fratto, who attended Oakton, is a three-time Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference Coach of the Year, earning that distinction in 2006, 2012 and 2015. During his coaching career at Oakton, his teams won the Skyway Conference championship four times, in 2006, 2012, 2015 and 2016. The Owls also made NJCAA Region IV Championship appearances in 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2015 in addition to winning regional, district and NJCAA Division III World Series championships in 2018.
With Fratto’s guidance, dozens of players have been named all-conference and all-region selection and advanced to compete at NCAA Division I, II and III institutions. In addition, several players have gone on to play professionally and have been drafted by numerous Major League Baseball teams including the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Washington Nationals and Cincinnati Reds.