After their first full season in the Suburban Chicago Connie Mack Baseball League, the Wilmette Waves are confident they have found their permanent home.
At the end of last season, the Waves — along with Palatine, Glenview, Highland Park, Morton Grove and Loyola — ended their affiliation with American Legion baseball. Each wanted a circuit that catered to the changing needs of the individual programs.
Wood bats and increased roster control were among the valued features that the teams were looking for, and Connie Mack baseball has fulfilled the teams’ requirements.
The Waves — who finished in second place with a conference record of 9-6 — believe that the league was just what they were looking for.
“I thought it was a good year,” Waves coach Mike Napoleon said. “We played a lot of games in a short amount of time. I just like the (Connie Mack) format a lot better.”
Napoleon acknowledged that the comfort level and established relationships with the other coaches in the league helped make the season a success.
“Getting it going, there were no issues. These teams were on board right away,” Napoleon said.
Now that he has seen his team compete against some of their CSL North counterparts, Napoleon has a better idea of what to expect when the spring season rolls around.
“This was a great chance for the juniors to showcase their skills,” Napoleon said. “Austin Zimmerman, who didn’t play a lot in the spring, ended up being our MVP for the summer. He pitched, played third base, was our No. 4 hitter and batted over .350.”
Zimmerman’s breakthrough performance gave his coach all he needed to see to give Zimmerman playing time on varsity next season. Napoleon said Zimmerman will most likely be New Trier’s No. 2 pitcher and will bat clean-up in the lineup.
Throughout the summer, the Waves staff had more time to work one-on-one with the players, allowing them to become more familiar with the team’s goals. With Napoleon bringing back former players, including his son Dusty, there were plenty of coaches to go around to work individually with the Waves players.
“The summer is a great way to improve skills, it also helps the guys learn their roles a little bit, and they get to know me a little bit better as well,” Napoleon said.