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Friday, July 15, 2011
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  Proviso Players Take Part in NW Suburban Baseball Tourney  

Forest Park, IL...

By MIKE SANDROLINI [West Suburban Journal]

Proviso East's Reuben Esquivel called it "a great opportunity." Proviso West's Taivion Williams couldn't agree more.

The great opportunity to which both varsity baseball players referred was taking part in the annual Northwest Suburban Baseball Tournament. It's a two-day event in which all-star teams from eight different suburban conferences showcased next year's best seniors.

Esquivel and Williams represented the Proviso East Pirates and Proviso West Panthers on the West Suburban Conference team. Other participating conferences included the DuPage Valley, East Suburban Catholic, Central Suburban, Fox Valley, North Suburban, Upstate Eight and Mid Suburban.

The District 209 duo was joined on the West Suburban squad by Proviso East coach Glenn Lid, who has been involved with the Northwest Suburban tourney for the past 13 years and was asked to be a coach for the first time this year.

"It's always a privilege," Lid said. "I've had a kid represent our team every year, and most of the kids that play in this (tournament) go on to play in college, without question. It's an incredible opportunity."

Each team played two games in the round-robin format—one on Friday and one on Saturday. Prior to Friday's games, team members were timed in the 60-yard dash. Coaches and scouts from various colleges and universities throughout the Midwest were also on hand both days.

Williams said he was timed at seven seconds flat in the 60. "It's very eye-opening to see how many good players there are in Illinois," he said, "and see how you match up and compete against them. I just love baseball and I'm glad to be here."

Williams, an outfielder for the Panthers in 2011 (8-27 record), is confident Proviso West can be a better team in 2012. He also could do some pitching for West next spring.

"We have a lot of guys coming up that have a lot of potential," he said. "Our seniors have been in the weight room already this off-season. We have the potential to do way better than last year."

Getting better during the off-season includes playing plenty of games over the summer. In addition to competing in the Northwest Suburban tourney, Williams is playing for his Proviso West summer league team, and for a district travel team based out of Burbank and West Lawn. "It's the only way to get better," he said.

Esquivel is also playing on two summer league teams: the Lyons travel team and the Cubs RBI team. The latter team is funded by the Chicago Cubs. Esquivel and Williams were playing together in the outfield at one point (center and left field, respectively) during Friday's game — a victory by the West Suburban Conference over DuPage Valley. On Saturday, the West Suburban Conference — which produced five regional championship teams and one that won the state 4A championship, Lyons Township — faced the North Suburban Conference. Esquivel tripled off the fence in the game, scored a run and made a catch in right field.

"It's a great opportunity and I'm happy to be here to show my talents and see what I can do," Esquivel said.

"Everything is done in real good order," Lid said. "They've got the 60-yard dash. They've got the kids stretching before they run. There's an arm strength test, and they have it organized for the infielders (who go through timed pre-game warmups). So they're covering all the bases."

Esquivel, who's been on varsity since his freshman year, was Proviso East's team MVP and an all-conference player in 2011. "He played shortstop; he played center field. He's a really good center fielder," Lid said. "He has good arm strength. He can develop into a good pitcher. We've got to work on his control and his curve ball. He's got a real good natural swing, and I'm real confident he's going to play at the college level."

Like Williams, Esquivel believes his team will be improved next spring. The Pirates are coming off a 5-29 season.

"We've got a bunch of younger kids coming up and they're good ballplayers," he said. "We've just got to work on our defense. I'm doing a bit better than I was freshman year, so I know how it is for the young kids playing with us. Hopefully they can help us out a lot on varsity."