Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

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Baseball looks to succeed after losing 15 seniors, near-entire starting lineup, to graduation

Gabe+Dickerson%2C+then+a+senior%2C+pitches+in+the+Dupage+Valley+Conference+Championship+on+May.+18%2C+2023.+Dickerson+and+14+other+seniors+graduated+last+year%2C+leaving+Central+with+a+nearly+entirely+new+roster+for+the+2024+season.
Jay Deegan
Gabe Dickerson, then a senior, pitches in the Dupage Valley Conference Championship on May. 18, 2023. Dickerson and 14 other seniors graduated last year, leaving Central with a nearly entirely new roster for the 2024 season.

Central’s baseball team lost 15 players to graduation after their last season, starting the 2024 season with an entirely new batting lineup and starting pitching rotation.

“We had 98 innings pitched last year in conference, and we only have [junior] Chase Reeder back and he pitched seven-and-two-thirds innings,” head coach Mike Stock said. “I thought that would be a number that puts it into perspective. I think that at-bats would be even more dramatic. So yeah, it’s a brand new group.”

Of the players who graduated, Central lost two NCAA Division 1 commits, the DuPage Valley Conference (DVC) Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year, and four DVC All-Conference players.

“It’s not to say that this group wasn’t of the ability to play varsity level baseball,” Stock said. “It’s just that they had a large number of kids in front of them. It’s a competitive group that did very well at the JV level. They went 23-3 as JV players last year. We were very lucky.”

Despite the talent at the varsity level last year, Central was eliminated in the first round of their IHSA Regional.

“We’ve got to find different ways to score runs and than we have in the past couple of years,” Stock said. “But that wasn’t enough the past couple years, so we need to do that anyways. We got to work on winning, right? And that’s going to be defined every game differently, but the tasks that it take are pretty similar and we’re going to celebrate those, work on those.”

Stock said that the team is particularly focused on making “winning plays” this year.

“We’re really celebrating the idea of making those winning plays, whether that be a ground ball, a safety squeeze, a sac fly, there’s no style points of how we’re going to win games,” Stock said. “We don’t think we can rely on quite the power we had at the plate last year. A three-run homer is not going to come every game and nor did it last year, but it came a lot. So we are going to have to look different and do things differently to score. It’s going to look different.”

Senior Jack First played on JV last year, blocked by seniors on varsity.

“We don’t have a lot of experience, but we definitely saw a lot of potential from our group,” First said. “I’m super stoked [to play on varsity]. I love all the guys on the team. We have a ton of fun, even in practice or just sitting in the classroom together.”

Central’s first game of the new season came against Nazareth, ranked as the second best team in Illinois by Prep Baseball Report. While Central lost 5-3, they led until the sixth inning.

“We’d beat them for six innings and it just gives us a ton of momentum for the rest of the season,” First said. “I think we know that we can hang with any team. [Nazareth] are probably the best team in the Chicagoland area , so knowing that we can hang with them, I think we can take on any team. It gives us a bunch of confidence.”

Central’s next game will be away against Schaumburg on March 21, and their first conference game will come against Waubonsie Valley on April 8.

“We’re looking for a fourth straight conference championship, definitely a regional championship,” Stock said. “Our goals are the same as they always are. We want to develop a personality in which we believe every one of them is attainable. I’m really excited about the group.”

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About the Contributors
Jake Pfeiffer
Jake Pfeiffer, Editor-in-Chief
Jake Pfeiffer is a senior, entering his third year on the Central Times staff, this time as Editor-in-Chief. Jake joined CT as a sophomore because he wanted to write news, but since then he has grown to love just about every element of journalism. While it is rare to see Jake anywhere other than the CT office, occasionally you can find him captaining Central’s debate team, watching baseball, listening to a seemingly endless amount of podcasts or drowning in college applications.
Jay Deegan
Jay Deegan, Print Managing Editor
Jay Deegan is a Junior at Central and happy to start his third year of journalistic adventures at the Central Times. Jay loves writing features and diving in-depth into issues that plague our community. In his free time Jay runs a freelance videography and photography business and loves to creatively express his interests in sports and filmmaking. If you’d like to join CT or have a tip, reach out!
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