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Jake Latz has struck out 45 in 24 innings this season for Lemont. | Larry Kane/For Sun-Times Media
Teams from the SEC don’t recruit the Chicago area that often for baseball. So it was very unusual to have LSU recruit and sign not one but two players from the same team.
Lemont’s Jake Latz and Mike Papierski have both committed to the Tigers next year. The two will be roommates but they did not sign on as a package deal.
“We both had the same opportunity to work out for them on separate weekends,’’ Latz said. “You don’t see it too much on their roster from this year and previous years. There’s not that many kids from up north.’’
“We both worked hard and did what we could,’’ Papierski said. “We both got recognized for working hard.’’
Latz has taken his game to another level this season. The 6-2 southpaw has compiled a 4-0 record while not allowing an earned run in those starts. Just as impressive, he has allowed only four walks in 24 innings of work with 45 strikeouts. He throws a fastball that approaches 90 mph and has a curve and changeup to complement it.
Having a short memory has helped him gain a competitive advantage this season.
“Throwing 90 miles an hour today isn’t the same as it was ten years ago,’’ Lemont coach Brian Storako said. “So when you just throw harder versus hitting spots it doesn’t always have the results that you want. So, he settled down and he realized you are going to get hit at times but it’s how you bounce back and react to it.’’
“This year has been a big improvement for me,’’ Latz said. “Just forgetting about stuff that’s not going to affect me for the rest of the game. I’ve always been pretty good at location but not like this year. My preparation before and during the week has helped me to not throw a lot of walks.’’
Papierski is his battery mate and has been playing catcher since he was eight years old. He has worked hard in the offseason to improve his overall physical capabilities with his summer coach, Jared Koutnik.
“My bat speed has gotten faster,’’ Papierski said. “I’ve worked on my legs and my footwork and my arm strength — just the overall game.’’
Lemont jumped out to a 21-1 record and Papierski’s hitting has been a big component of that success. He carries a .344 average along with four home runs, 16 RBI and 13 walks. His approach at the plate is appreciated by his teammates and coaches.
“He has a great knowledge of the hitting zone,’’ Storako said. “He works counts and he is a very good two strike hitter. He is very disciplined at the plate and he draws walks because of that.’’
Jake Godfrey from Providence has also committed to LSU and will join Papierski and Latz in Baton Rouge next season.