Panther Baseball Gets Ready to Swing Into the New Season

Last season the Glenbard North varsity team showed improvements from the season before, and the team is hoping to continue their improvements in this upcoming season. The team put up a winning record for the first time since 2015 (the 2019 season was canceled due to COVID-19 pandemic), showing signs of improvement for the program. Excited for the new season, varsity head coach Richard Smelko said, “We’re definitely looking to feed off of that. We had one of our strongest points. As I see now, before we enter the preseason … I think we have a little bit more pitching depth. So that’s definitely going to get us going.” Finishing off last season with an eight-game win streak and a playoff win to give the team an overall winning record, the Panthers have the perfect foundation to start the new season on the same note. 

Senior Nick Schenkel gets ready to take a swing during a workout. (By Ricky Mendez)

The start of an improved team is individual improvements by the players who are expecting to be on the team this season. The coaches host preseason workouts in the weeks leading up to tryouts, but work needs to be done by the players year-round. When asked about possible returning player improvements, Smelko said he wants to be “seeing the kids just get bigger and stronger, [and] seeing their skill set develop from the previous year. [It] kind of shows what you know, what they’ve been doing in the offseason besides the stuff that they do here, but the stuff on their own.” Even with the workouts he does with the players, the expectation and hope for all players is for them to seek improvement on their own, which would maximize their chances of putting up a winning percentage like they did last season. 

Senior Raul Ceja waits for a pitch to come during workouts. (By Ricky Mendez)

While having a great roster of players is important for winning games, a roster can go nowhere without the proper coaching in place. Glenbard North has this with their varsity coaching staff headed by Smelko, but also including Jordan Kressner and Ian Zimmerman. The coaches need to train during the off-season just like the players, but rather than workouts and batting practice, they watch film and learn new ways of communication. Smelko said, “Every year as coaches we’re looking to improve ourselves to make the kids better. You know, by no means do we know it all. I mean, we learn every year just like the kids do. So you know we’re always looking for improvement as a coach just like the kids are looking to improve as a player.” He believes that as he improves as a coach he will help the kids improve even more than they are now. This relationship between improvements as coaches and players are connected, because better coaches will make better players, and better players will help make better coaches.

Senior Dylan Pytko waits for his partner to throw him a ball during batting practice. (By Ricky Mendez)

With the season opener being March 20 against Glenbard East, the team is in its final stretch of preparing for the new season.