New coach brings energy to H-F baseball team

H-F varsity baseball head coach John McCarthy took over the baseball program last June and has brought a new energy to the team since joining the staff. 
“Intensity. From practice to games, he [McCarthy] just gets us pumped up. It’s just a huge difference overall with every aspect,” senior pitcher Tyler Schlaffer said. 
McCarthy replaced Todd Sippel, after 16 seasons of coaching the baseball team. Assistant head coach Nick Kapchinske started coaching at H-F at the same time as Sippel and continues his duties.
  Senior Jorge Santos swings
  during H-F's game against
  Neuqua Valley. Santos will
  be continuing his baseball
  career at South Suburban
(Donald Crocker/
  H-F Chronicle)
“Coach Sippel did a nice job over that time, building the program, building relationships with the players, helping players move on to the next level and he was really dedicated during his time here,” Kapchinske said. 
McCarthy, who had a 186-79 record during his eight years coaching at Brother Rice, played baseball three years professionally for two independent clubs, the Gary Railcats and the Windy City Thunderbolts. 
A majority of high school coaches played baseball in high school or college but it’s rare to find a coach that has experience playing professionally.
“I was lucky enough to be playing in some winning programs with great coaches,” McCarthy said. “That’s really shaped my coaching experience and who I am today.”
McCarthy had the luxury of hiring an entire staff for each position group on the field, including  White Sox director of youth baseball initiatives, Kevin Coe. 
“The new coaching staff is way more competitive. The guys around me want to compete more and everything is more upbeat and more uptempo,” sophomore Will Pauling said. 
A new addition to the baseball program was offseason weight training which included a personal weight trainer for the entire time. 
“It helped us physically and mentally by hiring a weight trainer to push us every day, in the morning and after school,” said Schlaffer who will play for the University of Illinois at Chicago. 
After a disappointing 10-5 loss to Providence last season in the Class 4A Regional semifinal, the H-F team looks to improve its record of 8-9 as the second half of the season begins. 
The team brought back a majority of its starters from last year but also moved up five sophomores to the varsity level. 
Pauling, who also played receiver for the football team last fall, stepped up by starting as a second baseman for the baseball team. 
“I was a little bit nervous coming in. I didn’t know a lot of the guys. Just getting on the field more helped. I got more comfortable as time went by,” Pauling said. 
H-F won two big games beating Joliet Catholic 12-0 and Lincoln Way East 11-1. Both teams were ranked among the top three in the state.
“It just shows that we can beat whoever we want. We just got to put it out there and play as hard as we can. We can compete with any team on the field,” Senior catcher Jacob Schroeder said. 
The team will play a big game against rival Marian Catholic on Friday at 4:30 p.m. as the Vikings look to finish off the year strong. 
“By the end of the year, all these tough battles that we’ve had with some teams, it’s just gonna get us ready for the end of the year,” Schroeder said. 

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