By: Kelsie Kasper
The DuPage County Hounds will look to uphold their tradition as one of the Midwest Collegiate League’s top teams as they swing back into action for their seventh summer of MCL baseball.
Manager Ben Caple will lead the Hounds for the fourth consecutive season. He’s been a mainstay with DuPage County since the team’s inception, first as an assistant coach before taking over the team from Sean Osborne. With this experience, Caple has had plenty of time to develop his style of coaching.
“I have a very laid back personality,” Caple said. “But that being said, I work these guys hard day in and day out. I just let them play loose, go out there and play ball to showcase their skills.”
Caple guided his team to success last summer as the Hounds finished with a 34-18 record, but saw their winning season come to an end in the first round of the Midwest Collegiate League Playoffs.
“We just weren’t playing our best baseball at the end of the season, which is ultimately what a good team wants to do down the stretch,” Caple said.
After a successful regular season last summer, the Hounds will return five players from the 2017 roster. Looking forward into 2018, Caple anticipates this team will be have a different approach than the previous season.
“Just on paper, it seems we are going to have a different style of team this year,” Caple said. “Last year with our offense, we could flat out hit, but made some base running errors and errors on routine plays, which I think will be the strong suit of my team this year. We have a lot of speed and our defense will be sound.”
There are 14 pitchers ready to work for the Hounds. Caple hopes to spread out the innings throughout that staff during their 50-game season.
“First, I want to get a feel for everyone,” he said. “Then, heading into the middle of summer, they start evolving into roles and you start identifying what kind of pitcher they are.”
With regard to the rest of the lineup, Caple believes the Hounds have a solid roster from top to bottom. Michigan State outfielder Danny Gleaves (Michigan State/Homer Glen) will be a player to look out for on the Hounds. Matt Collins (Hawthorn Woods/Cornell) will be a starting shortstop and has the potential to stand out this season, along with Nick Bellina (Donaldsonville/LSU Eunice) and Bren Faulk (Abbeville/LSU Eunice), who play for Louisiana State University - Eunice, a quality baseball program.
As far as playing together as team, Caple has one goal: To make these players better than when they started.
“It’s plain and simple,” Caple said. “I just want to get these guys more game experience and make them bigger, faster and stronger so they go back to their school, and their coach sees them as a polished baseball player.”
The Hounds will kick off their 2018 season with their home opener on Tuesday, May 29 at 5 p.m. All home games will be played at Lemont High School Sports Complex, located at 131st and Bell Road, Lemont, Ill.
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