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Prep Zone

Schwab: Castellanos named new Batavia softball coach

Lupe Castellanos is a campus monitor at Batavia High School, but there’s little question the school’s softball diamond will command special attention from him in the years to come.

After 12 years as an assistant in the program, Bulldogs softball is finally Castellanos’ domain.

Castellanos, a 35-year-old former baseball player and wrestler at East Aurora, was named the program’s new softball coach earlier this month, according to Batavia athletic director Dave Andrews.

Castellanos spent the past two years as a varsity assistant to Ashley Szymski after serving as the team’s JV coach the previous 10 years under former coaches Lee Pedraza and Jim Schmitz.

Now that it’s his turn to run the show, Castellanos said he’ll take a little bit from each of the coaches he worked under while also infusing his own philosophies into the program.

“I know they always say you’re never ready to be a head coach, but I feel confident in what I’m doing,” Castellanos said. “I’ve been here a while. I kind of know how things work and know the kids a lot, so that’s what gives me a lot of confidence.”

Castellanos said being a varsity head coach has been on his radar for several years but thought the timing was right after Szymski’s summer resignation.

“I would say after my fifth or sixth year, I thought I would like to be head coach, but just recently when it kind of opened up, I thought I’d put my name in the hat and see, because I knew the kids in the program very well and I thought I’d be a good fit for the program,” Castellanos said.

The Bulldogs are coming off a 20-16 season and are slated to return a handful of accomplished players, including slugger Katie Ryan, slick-fielding infielder Erin Costigan and versatile speedster Sami Villarreal.

Castellanos, who already conducted an introductory meeting with the players and will oversee the program’s winter open gym and strength and conditioning programs, thinks the Bulldogs can see success this spring.

“My first goal will always be to win the conference and my second goal is to try and make a nice run in the state tournament,” Castellanos said. “Those are always my main goals, but if the girls work hard, at the end of the day, that’s what I’m going to be looking for because you can only control so much. Winning, we want to win, yeah, but I look more toward what kind of effort the girls put out there on the field, and if you do that, I think the wins will come.”

Fleck introduced: Kaneland graduate P.J. Fleck was officially introduced Tuesday as the new head football coach at Western Michigan.

Fleck, 32, becomes the youngest head coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision. His five-year contract will pay him $392,500 annually, according to the Kalamazoo (Mich.) Gazette.

He told reporters at the news conference that “age never mattered to me.”

“I know that I can lead young men,” said Fleck, who along with his wife, Tracie, welcomed daughter Paisley to the family Monday, the same day WMU named him its new coach.

Fleck plans to finish out the year as wide receivers coach for the 6-8 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The former Northern Illinois standout receiver and assistant coach said he is enthused to return to his Mid-American Conference roots.

“I feel like I have come back home,” he said.

• Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or

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