Alleman's Chase VanDerGinst
Continued progression: Chase VanDerGinst has been a key to Alleman's renewed success over the last three seasons. The Pioneers have improved their win total each year, going 30-6 this past spring.
Much like the Pioneers, VanDerGinst's game has also continued to grow.
VanDerGinst has loved playing baseball since his dad, Dave, put a baseball bat in his hands at the age of 6. He's played for the Quad-City Hitmen and now plays travel ball for the Chicago 29ers.
A year after hitting .429 and driving in 23 as a sophomore for the Pioneers, VanDerGinst put together a truly all-around junior season, hitting .441 with 15 doubles, five triples, three home runs, 37 RBIs and 22 stolen bases. Splitting time between catcher and outfielder, he earned all-state honors from the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association.
"I'm never content. I just always want to improve and get better each and every day and also make my team better," VanDerGinst said. "We train every day to be a well-rounded player and this offseason I was trying mostly for the power gains. I wanted to improve and get more extra base hits this year to help my team and I think I did that."
Eye on the prize: Alleman has gone 69-36 in three seasons and has won two straight shares of Western Big Six titles with VanDerGinst in the lineup.
VanDerGinst still wants more, his biggest goal for his senior season is to win a state title.
The Pioneers looked poised to threaten for a title this year, ranked as one of the top teams in the state all year and winning their second straight share of a Western Big Six title.
However, Alleman lost to eventual state champion Hall in a sectional final. Two of the Pioneers' six losses came to the Red Devils.
VanDerGinst and the returning players are hungry for next year.
"Knowing that we lost to the team that won state, it feels a little bit better," he said. "But at the end of the day, it pushes us for next year to get to state and hopefully win it next year."
Future now set: VanDerGinst wanted to have his future taken care of before his senior year.
He did just that, committing to play for Western Illinois on Friday morning.
"Me and my family have been talking and we decided that Western Illinois, they can give me a good education and they have a great program for business," VanDerGinst said. "On the baseball side of things, I really feel I can develop as a player and a person. I've made a strong relationship with their head baseball coach and really believe we can be competitive over the next four years."
VanDerGinst will join the 2016 Quad-City Times All-Eastern Iowa baseball captain Javin Drake of Wilton on the Leathernecks, where Ryan Brownlee has been the head coach since the fall of 2012.
"I really like that they like to develop people," VanDerGinst said of the coaching staff. "Going in there freshman year, you start where you start and I feel like I can progress throughout all four years to be as good as I can."
VanDerGinst plans to play outfield for the Leathernecks and is excited to have the pressure of a college commitment out of the way so he can focus on his senior year, where as a two-sport athlete, he plans to once again make his mark on the basketball court and then the baseball field.
"Now I can go into my senior year and the pressure is off," he said. "Just help my teams be competitive this year and help us win."
— Compiled by Bobby Metcalf