1. Mount Carmel: The Caravan (34-8) brought home the school’s first state championship last season with four sophomores in the lineup. Coach Brian Hurry’s squad should be as strong as ever, with the return of juniors Ako Thomas (Michigan), Josh Stowers (Louisville), Scott Kapers (Valparaiso) and Malik Carpenter, and senior David Dobrinich (Western Illinois). Senior left-handers Marko Boricich (Penn State) and Richard Fordon (Northwestern) head a solid rotation.
2. St. Laurence: The Vikings (27-10) return eight starters and five pitchers from last year’s Catholic Blue championship squad. Coach Pete Lotus has high-end talent all over the field. Four-year starting INF/RHP Mike Kornacker (Purdue), INF/RHP Brad Wood (Northern Illinois) and C T.J. Marik (Austin Peay) headline a senior-laden team that has significant pitching depth.
3. Joliet Catholic: The Hilltoppers (27-14) have claimed four state trophies in the last six years, including two titles. They are the prohibitive favorites to defend their Class 3A state title this year behind highly-ranked junior Nick Dalesandro (Purdue), sophomore RHP Drake Fellows (Vanderbilt) and junior SS Mitchell Boe. Five starters and five pitchers return.