A baseball season ago, Jimmy DeAngelo was the winning pitcher of the Class 2A state championship as a junior.
Heading into his senior season, DeAngelo wanted to be the Hall’s ace and lead them back to Peoria. The Red Devils didn’t make it to Peoria, but through DeAngelo’s arm and leadership Hall went to its third straight sectional final.
The last three baseball seasons have had Hall in the headlines, at the top of most of the NewsTribune leaderboard categories and deep in the p…
“My mindset was honestly to try to get back down to Peoria,” DeAngelo said. “That’s where I wanted my high school career to end. I knew it would be different without Ty (Rybarczyk), Brant (Vanaman) and Cam (McDonald) because they were our three leaders. I took on a bigger role this year.
“I expected a lot out of myself. I really didn’t want to lose this year on the mound. I kind of wanted to have a bulldog mentality going into every start. I tried to put up numbers like Ty did last year.”
DeAngelo went 8-0 this season to win more games than any other area pitcher and it helped him finish his high school career with a 25-1 record.
Along with his eight wins, he had a 0.87 earned run average with six earned runs in 48 1/3 innings and 56 strikeouts. DeAngelo’s ERA was tops in the area and his strikeouts were fourth.
“He always found a way to compose himself,” Hall coach Tom Keegan said. “I think one of the biggest assets someone can have at that position is between the ears and the ability to slow things down and execute a pitch to get guys out when he needed to.
“He could do that by inducing weak contact or he could get a big strikeout as well. Those are intangible things that are going to serve him well when he gets to Parkland (College).”
DeAngelo’s name wasn’t only spread out in the pitching categories on the area leaderboard, as he was in all seven offensive categories.
He was first in runs scored (41), home runs (four) and stolen bases (32), third in RBIs (25), tied for fourth in batting average (.418) with teammate Payton Plym, and was also in the top 10 in doubles (tied for fifth) and triples (one).
For his accomplishments, DeAngelo is the 2019 NewsTribune Baseball Player of the Year.
“Last year, I threw more of a curveball. This year I went to more of a slider,” said DeAngelo, who is 6 foot, 3 inches tall and 220 pounds. “I felt like that helped me tremendously. I kept focused, stretched out better and stayed hydrated. I took post-game recovery more seriously this year.
“At the plate, my approach was just to hit the ball hard. If they left a fast ball up the middle, I was trying to put it off of the wall or over the fence.”
The senior ace and lead-off hitter put up big numbers to lead the team, but he also led off the field.
Junior Matt Hultz learned a few things from DeAngelo over the course of the season as Hultz was the Red Devils first baseman.
“Jimmy’s leadership on the field is extraordinary,” Hultz said. “He is a leader for everybody. He motivates everybody to be the best ballplayer they can be. He’s just a great guy. Off the field, he’s such a nice guy and fun to hang out with. It’s just a great time being with him.
“He gave me a tip on my swing. I was struggling about mid-way through the season. Jimmy helped me out, told me to relax and calm down. It just really worked it. He’s a great leader.”
Almost every year a team loses a senior.
Last year was a tough one for Keegan as he lost three college talents in Rybarczyk, Vanaman and McDonald. This time will be just as tough as he loses another player who could do everything.
“Jimmy is one of those kids that if you ask any coach it seems like he has been around for seven or eight years,” Keegan said. “He has done everything for us. The only thing he didn’t do throughout the course of his career is catch.
“He was in the outfield in his younger days. He was in the corner infield, the middle of the infield and he probably left his biggest mark in the middle of the diamond. He was 25-1 on the mound. That’s going to be hard to replace.”
DeAngelo is going to Parkland to pitch.
He decided to give up hitting and everything else so he can focus on being the best pitcher he can. DeAngelo is spending his summer at the college in Champaign to work on his game.
“I’m trying to get better. That’s why I came down here this summer,” DeAngelo said. “I think I may be the only freshman who came down here during the summer. I kind of want to do what Ty (Rybarczyk) did last year for Parkland. I want to do what he did.
“He put the work in during the summer and it obviously showed in the spring.”
Brandon LaChance can be reached at 220-6995, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_LaChance.