Lockport baseball coach Andy Satunas is pretty proud of his Porters’ baseball program. They’re perennially one of the best teams in the southwest suburbs and have a long and storied tradition, especially under former coach Jim Hall.
But there’s something else that Satunas is proud of.
In Satunas’ four years as head coach at Lockport, the program has sent 45 players to college; 26 of which are playing college baseball.
This year’s crop of baseball scholarship guys is the most in Satunas’ tenure. There are 11 players who will play at the next level, doubling the number of guys from year’s past. Each season since 2010, Lockport has averaged five players going on to play in college.
Those who are going to play in college from this year’s team include: Thomas Smith (Roosevelt), Evan Marten (SIU-Edwardsville), Jeff Duschene (undecided, but will sign), Doug Matthews (Concordia), Jeff Pattison (Joliet Junior College), Connor Ryan (Prairie State JC), Eric Duzan (Prairie State JC), Ted Snidanko (Purdue), Derek Bangert (Heartland Community College), Nick Lindemann (JJC) and Ron Sessler (JJC).
“One thing we think we should be doing is preparing kids to be good baseball players and to be successful in life,” Satunas said. “It’s a huge accomplishment for our program and their families and our school. In recent memory this is the most (number of players going on to college.”
Basketball and football recruiting can be cutthroat and baseball is getting to that point, too, with summer play the key to kids getting noticed and getting that elusive scholarship.
“Baseball has really grown over the past 10 years and it’s catching up with basketball recruiting where summer teams are growing and coaches are recruiting a lot earlier,” Satunas said. “The summer between their junior and senior year is the most important one in the eye of the scouts. That’s where they’re going to really feel confident about a player and talk to him sign in October or November, or they’ll tell them they will follow them the following spring.”
Snidanko will play Big Ten baseball next spring for the Boilermakers and is excited to get a taste of Division I athletics.
“(The Big Ten) is making a comeback and most of those schools are rebuilding,” Snidanko said. “Getting to say I am playing in college is scary, but exciting at the same time.”
And Matthews said there was no doubt that he was going to continue playing in college. Not doing so wasn’t an option for him. He’s just glad he stood out, because of all the competition among players and college coaches in the area.
“I didn’t care how far away it was, I just wanted to play,” Matthews said. “It’s a stressful process, but you have to stick with it. I had it set in my mind that I was going to play baseball. There was nothing in my mind saying I’m not going to. I can’t stop now.”
Don’t forget about these guys
Satunas also wants people to remember that six other players are going to college from his team, but that group is going for academics only.
Mike Coladipietro (Dayton), Ryan Christian (Iowa), Dan Sullivan (Iowa), Jeff Milas (Northern Illinois), Austin Kolmodin (Illinois) and Brett Stogskill (Iowa) are all ceasing their athletic careers after high school.
“I’m going to study business,” said Kolmodin, whose older brother, Niko, is a sophomore at Illinois. “I’m going there because it’s in-state and one of the best business schools in the area. I talked to a couple smaller colleges, but I wasn’t going to be able to go anywhere big like U of I to play baseball and I wanted to go to a big university. So I decided last year that I would go for academics instead of baseball.”
Kolmodin said that even though he will miss playing the game, he knew that high school was as far as his talents would take him.
“It wasn’t difficult to accept,” Kolmodin said. “I’m not a Division I baseball player. I know that if I want to play baseball in college it would be at a Division III or lower school and I didn’t want to do that.”
Kolmodin said some of his teammates would vent to him about the recruiting process. He said a couple colleges recruited one of his teammates pretty hard — to the point where the player was receiving dozens of emails a day. Kolmodin could relate to that, in a way.
“While they were recruiting for colleges, I would be looking for colleges (academically) and I was talking to a lot of academic advisors,” Kolmodin said. “There were some similarities, but I never thought, ‘I’m glad I’m not going through this.’ ”
Satunas said the most important thing to remember in the recruiting process is grades. Keep your grades up and the offers will come.
“If you look at a Division I college, they have a 30-man roster,” Satunas said. “And they have 11.7 scholarships. When a coach comes out and he sees a kid that has a 3.0 (GPA) and a 25 or more on his ACT, he gets attracted to recruiting him because he knows he can cover a lot of the expense with academic money.
“Everything else on the field will just take care of itself.”