By: Brady Extin
May 25, 2019 - A mainstay atop the Midwest Collegiate League standings, the DuPage County Hounds will look to keep that tradition going as they enter their eighth season in the league.
After finishing as the league runner-up last season, 2018’s MCL Manager of the Year Ben Caple and the team are eager to get back out on the diamond.
The team’s campaign to avenge last year’s finish will be led by a group of familiar faces, as the team is set to bring back eight members from the 2018 team, including five who saw action in the championship series.
This includes pitchers Travis Pelton (Loras / Hinsdale, Ill.) and Andrew Padilla (Webster University / Burbank, Ill.) as well as everyday players Austin Tittle (Lewis University / Lemont, Ill.), Kyle Kane (Milikin University / Westchester, Ill.) and 2018 MCL All-League team honoree Stephen Mogged (Southern Illinois University/College of Lake County / Lindenhurst, Ill.).
Rounding out the group of returnees are pitchers Brett Taucher (Heartland CC / Elk Grove Village, Ill.) and Zac Bianucci (Michigan State University / Naperville, Ill.) along with infielder Cameron Falk (Benedictine University / Bolingbrook, Ill.).
With a group of well-rounded, experienced hitters returning, as well as newly-added firepower, Caple has no worries about his team’s offensive abilities heading into the season.
“We’ll be able to hit it one through nine in the lineup every day.” Caple said. “I have a lot of depth as far as position players go.”
The Hounds depth isn't just limited to the offensive side of the ball, as Caple has added a variety of talented arms to round out his pitching staff.
“I’ve got a good mix this year between finesse pitchers who know how to throw three pitches for strikes whenever they want, and then I also have power arms that can come in there and try to break some bats,” Caple said.
Although the end goal for the team is always to win the league championship, Caple’s personal goal and coaching style heading into the season is centered around helping each player become better all-around ballplayers and learn what it takes to play a grueling season of baseball.
“Without a doubt we want to get them better,” Caple said. “Ultimately the goal is to get them their man-strength so-to-say, because if they want to play pro ball someday they’re going to have to grind through 150-plus game seasons."
The Hounds will be on the road the first two games of the 2019 season beginning with a trip to Joliet, Ill. to take on the Joliet Generals on Wednesday, May 29 at 5 p.m. The home opener is slated for Saturday, June 1 at 1 p.m. against the Bloomington Bobcats. The Hounds will play their home games at the Lemont Sports Complex in Lemont, Ill.
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