WGN-TV/Tribune Prep Athlete of the Month: St. Rita’s Tyler Halas

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(CHICAGO) -- Tyler Halas can handle the spotlight.

After all, the St. Rita senior has been shining brightly since middle school.

"When you're going to play in the SEC, our first SEC player ever, and you've gotten all the hype he's had for a long time, it's amazing the way he carries himself," said St. Rita head baseball coach Mike Zunica.

Halas started taking college visits to the University of Tennessee in 7th grade, finally committing to the Volunteers when he was just a sophomore.

"It was a great fit for me. I like the coaches, I like the city of Knoxville," Halas said.

Halas' team has embraced the spotlight well, too. The Mustangs lost their first game of the season Saturday, pushing their record to 25-1. That is still good for the top mark in Illinois, and MaxPreps ranks St. Rita the number one team in the country.

"Coach has always told us don't think about the rankings, just think about the next game, practice. That's the most important thing," Halas said.

"The neatest thing about it is the recognition it has brought Chicago baseball," Zunica said. "That's the most satisfying to me."

The ultimate satisfaction will be the first spring baseball state title in school history, something the Mustangs came a game away from last season.

"We are still trying to get that taste out of our mouth this year and go back to State," Halas said.

If St. Rita does make school history, Halas will be a huge reason why. But the senior second baseman and pitcher knows he is just one piece of a special team.

"It's always been a team game for me," Halas said. "It's not just one guy. Coach has always said it's just one team. Everybody together, one big family."

"We have a lot of guys who are unbelievable teammates, but Tyler is right there at the top of the list," Zunica adds. "Every kid on this baseball team would say he's a great teammate, great guy. We love Tyler Halas."

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