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DES PLAINES, IL – While there may still be snow on the ground, there’s already a buzz surrounding the Oakton Community College baseball team. Exhibiting the Owls’ status as a national powerhouse, the team ranks No. 3 in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Baseball Coaches Association Preseason Division III Poll.
Oakton is looking to build on its recent success, having qualified for the NJCAA Division III World Series in the 2018, 2019 and 2021 campaigns. Under head coach Bill Fratto, now in his 17th season at the helm, Oakton won its first national championship in 2018.
“Our reputation is well known and our ranking is well deserved due to the hard work of our entire coaching staff,” Fratto says. “However, being ranked No. 3 means so many teams will be gunning for us and trying their hardest to beat us. We’re ready for the challenge. With seven returning starters from last year’s team, our outlook is outstanding.”
Each year, Fratto chooses a motto for his team. This year’s slogan is “Accept the Challenge.”
“Appearing in another World Series isn’t a given,” Fratto adds. “We’ve been working hard since last fall to make that happen. This year’s team has accepted the challenge of carrying the torch and living up to the high standards we’ve set. Our players are proud to wear the Oakton uniform.”
Fratto will rely heavily on returning starting outfielder Brandon Matias (Glenbrook South High School). Last season, Matias helped carry the offensive load with his .316 batting average, 8 homers and 41 RBI. On the mound, returning pitcher Kyle Moore (Bolingbrook High School) moves from the closer role to the starting rotation.
Fratto says starting pitching will be one of the team’s strong suits with talented new recruits joining the team. These include Aidan Pavoris (Huntley High School), Sam Arnold (Maine West High School) and Cole Connor (Prospect High School).
“All three are immensely competitive and give us the most depth in the starting rotation that we’ve ever had,” Fratto says.
The Owls start the season March 14-19, in Florida, playing against top-ranked national teams. Oakton plays its first home game, scheduled March 27, vs. Kankakee Community College.
“We’re excited about another season and our goal is always to win a championship,” Fratto says.