Alex Troop had to make one difficult decision when he chose Michigan State as his college baseball destination.
The Marmion senior is grateful he can keep his options open when it comes to another important matter – whether to turn his attention to pitching or hitting in college.
Troop, a 6-foot-4, left-handed pitcher and hitter from Batavia, committed to Michigan State about a week ago, he said, but only began circulating his decision the past couple days after notifying the schools that had recruited him.
Troop liked Michigan State from many standpoints, including the Spartans coaching staff’s willingness to give him a shot both on the mound and at first base.
“They made it very clear they want me as a two-way guy because they think both of my skill sets are not ones to drop at this point, and they think I can really compete at the college level both ways,” Troop said.
The ability to pitch and hit at the Division I level is a rarity, and Troop said he’s spoken to players who have cautioned him about how time-consuming it is to put in the work needed to succeed at both. Troop, though, thinks he could be an exception to the rule.
“Everyone always told me once you get to college you’ll probably just be a pitcher because pitching always has been I guess my strongsuit, but I’ve worked really hard at hitting, especially these last two years, and I really think I belong there as both,” Troop said.
Troop chose Michigan State over Cincinnati, Duke, Bradley, Central Michigan and High Point. He said the decision between the Spartans and Bearcats was “one of the hardest decisions of my life,” but he decided late one night and made his pledge the next morning.
“I slept pretty well because I was pretty set on Michigan State when I went to bed that night, and I didn’t have any change of heart when I woke up, either, so I knew right then that was my decision,” Troop said.
Michigan State’s baseball program has had some Tri-Cities flavor lately with St. Charles North products Ryan Richardson and Ryan Hudspeth both on the Spartans’ roster.
Troop might restore his three-sport status at Marmion this school year. He has golfed and played basketball for the Cadets in addition to playing baseball, but sat out his junior basketball season to focus on baseball. He said he’s considering a return to hoops this winter.
Big turnout for Kaligian dedication: Last week in this column I wrote about a planned memorial dedication for class of 2003 Geneva graduate Raymond Kaligian, a former Vikings baseball and golf standout who died in February in his hometown of Houston.
The event last Saturday – which included a bench being dedicated in his honor at Geneva’s baseball field – attracted an estimated crowd of more than 150 people, according to an email from his father, Ray.
Among the numerous speakers at the event were Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns, Vikings coaches Bill Koehn (boys golf) and Matt Hahn (baseball) and former Geneva teammates Brian Knapp and Jeff Denning.
Both the Geneva boys golf and baseball programs have dedicated their seasons to Kaligian’s memory, and Kaligian’s No. 14 baseball jersey is being retired. A scholarship of $1,000 for each of the next 10 years to a University of Illinois-bound Geneva student is being established by the family.
• Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.