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Versatility, talent highlights for Fighting Irish

Seneca's Sam Grushkin, shown in this file photo colliding at the plate with a Manteno baserunner last season, returns and should be a force to be reckoned with for Fighting Irish foes this spring.
Seneca's Sam Grushkin, shown in this file photo colliding at the plate with a Manteno baserunner last season, returns and should be a force to be reckoned with for Fighting Irish foes this spring.

If Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon looked at the roster for the 2018 Seneca Fighting Irish baseball team, the one thing that pops out Maddon would like would be the team’s versatility.

Seneca has 20 players out for baseball, and 16 of them play more than one position.

Take returning senior Colt Aldrich, for example. Along with taking his turn on the mound, Fighting Irish fans might see Aldrich playing second base or patrolling an outfield position.

That’s one thing that veteran Seneca skipper Kirk Houchin likes to see.

“With a school our size,” Houchin said, “and I’m sure Marquette does it and other schools our size do it. When you have guys moving around, Cody Altman for example, he can pitch, he can play first base and he can play all three outfield positions. That is something you have to do when you are a school that is our size.”

Seneca has nine seniors on the roster, and Houchin has three returning from last year’s team that dropped a 9-6 decision to fellow Interstate Eight rival Herscher in the semifinals of the IHSA Class 2A Herscher Regional.

Alrich comes off a junior campaign where he hit .297 for the Fighting Irish and was 2-2 on the mound in 11 games. He can be used as a spot starter or in long relief.

“Aldrich is a pitcher that throws strikes and will try to win a spot in the starting rotation,” Houchin said.

Seneca has a lot of arms that Houchin can count on to throw some innings, though some are on the young side. Junior Sam Grushkin returns after throwing in nine games with a 1-6 record. Houchin says that record is a little deceiving.

“Sam had a lot of games last season where, with his pitch count, we had to remove him from the game,” Houchin said. “He had a couple of nice games. He got a win against Beecher last season. He was pitching well at the end of the season.”

Houchin expects Grushkin to be the ace of the Fighting Irish staff. Last season, Grushkin did damage at the plate too, as he hit .356 as a sophomore with seven doubles and three home runs.

Along with Grushkin and Aldrich, Brody McNabb is a pitcher who could be slotted in the No. 3 spot in the rotation.

“Brody threw about 28 innings last season,” Houchin said. “He throws a lot of offspeed pitches and can fool people with those offspeed pitches and keeping the ball low.”

Another returning senior who might see some time in the outfield is Brendan Newkirk, who hit .270 as a junior.

Seneca is also getting three players back from last season who are coming off of an injury.

After being the starting catcher as a sophomore, Uriah Tobolsky returns after battling an injury that cut short his junior campaign. When not behind the plate, look for Tobolsky to find some time in the outfield. Then 2B/OF Alex Granados and 3B/P Ashton Harty return for their senior seasons after suffering injuries that ended their junior campaigns.
One thing that Houchin feels confident will be better will be his team’s ability to score runs.
“We have some good returning bats,” Houchin said. “Ashton Harty has some pop in his bat. Grushkin will be in the middle of our lineup. Myles Mitchell had a very good bat as a freshman last year. He has been looking good in the cage. ...
"Defense is a question mark, and I think we have a young pitching staff.”
Seneca opens the season, weather permitting, by hosting Dwight on March 21 and Putnam County on March 24 before heading on their annual spring trip where they will play games in Harrisburg, Goreville, Massac County and Ziegler.
No.  Name   Pos.   Yr.
2 Ken Sangston  OF/2B  Jr.
3 Brody McNabb  OF/P   Sr.
4 Avery Othon  P/2B   So.
5 Alex Granados  2B/OF  Sr.
6 Bryan Bingheim,  OF   Jr.
7 Colt Aldrich  2B/OF/P  Sr.
8 Uriah Tobolsky  C/1B   Sr.
9  Ben Hogue   OF   Jr.
10 Gage Cryder  P/OF   Fr.
11 Myles Mitchell  C/1B   So.
12 Sam Grushkin  P/SS   Jr.
13 Dylan Bryant  OF   Sr.
14 Cody Altman  P/OF   Sr.
15 Brody Baudino  P/OF/3B  Jr.
16 Dominik Sticha  IF/OF  Sr.
17 Cole Underhill  P/OF/3B  Fr.
18 Brendan Newkirk OF   Sr.
20 A.J. Baker   P/1B   Jr.
24 Ashton Harty  P/3B   Sr.
28 Dylan Leasure  1B/DH  Sr.
Head coach: Kirk Houchin
Date   Opponent/Event    Time
3/21 DWIGHT 4:30 p.m.
3/24 PUTNAM COUNTY   11 a.m.
3/26  at Harrisburg    6 p.m.
3/27 at Goreville     4 p.m.
3/28 at Massac County   4:30 p.m.
3/29 at Ziegler-RC    4 p.m.
3/31 HINCKLEY-BIG ROCK  10 a.m.
4/3 OTTAWA     4:30 p.m.
4/4  at Hall     4:30 p.m.
4/6 at Manteno     4:30 p.m.
4/7 at Serena     10 a.m.
4/9 WESTMONT    4:30 p.m.
4/10 at Westmont    4:30 p.m.
4/12 BEECHER     4:30  p.m.
4/13 STREATOR    4:30 p.m.
4/14 E-L-PP    4:30 p.m.
4/16 at Plano     4:30 p.m.
4/17 PLANO     4:30 p.m.
4/19 at Gardner-S. Wilm. 4:30 p.m.
4/20 at Wilmington     4:30 p.m.
4/21 SOMONAUK    10 a.m.
4/23 at Coal City     4:30 p.m.
4/24 COAL CITY    4:30 p.m.
4/25 at Marquette    4:30 p.m.
4/27 PEOTONE     4:30 p.m.
4/30 LISLE     4:30 p.m.
5/1 at Lisle     4:30 p.m.
5/2 at St. Bede     4:30 p.m.
5/4 REED-CUSTER    4:30 p.m.
5/7 at Sandwich     4:30 p.m.
5/8 SANDWICH    4:30 p.m.
5/9 at Newark     4:30 p.m.
5/11 at Herscher    4:30 p.m.

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