The James Hart Panthers are on a winning streak and will head to Peoria for the state baseball finals.
The Homewood District 153 team is in its first year and letting it be known that this will be a powerhouse team in the future.
Of the 18 boys on the roster, most have played baseball through Homewood Little League, said Hart teacher and coach Matt Somodi.
“They’ve played together for a long time,” Somodi said. “The real truth is everybody has contributed. We have great pitching and hitting, and if we continue to put great fielding out there, nobody can beat us.”
The school board agreed to expand its sports offerings starting this fall, and Somodi and Grant Sikkema have coached this new baseball team to an 11-3 record. They clinched the sectionals beating Frankfort Hickory Creek 6-3 on Sept. 26.
In the tournament this weekend, the Panthers will play Edwardsville Lincoln on Friday. The winner of Friday’s game goes on to play in the semi-final game Saturday. Winners will advance to the state championship game, and the other teams will play for third place.
Somodi expects parents will be traveling to Peoria for the games.
“We’ve got great kids and just as great are their parents,” he said.
Team members are: 7th-graders Alexander Barrera, Gallien Coupet, Jayden Cox, Nico Galindo, Nicholas Johnson and Austin Smailes, and 8th-graders Cole Anderson, Cecil Archbold, Anthony Caldanara, Collin Duntz, Nicholas Faso, Benjamin Hamer, Carlton Hondras, Jack Hurley, James Johnson, John Pohrte, Myles Prado and David Winicky.