Jacob Piechota trusts that the Western Michigan baseball coaches will be smart about keeping his arm healthy.
That impression is part of what emboldened the Batavia senior left-handed pitcher to verbally commit to the Broncos earlier this week.
Piechota said Western Michigan’s coaches stressed how serious they are about innings limits, taking proactive training measures to stave off injury and responding to cues about how their pitchers are feeling.
“I really, really liked the foundation the coaches had and what they taught,” Piechota said. “They really focus on keeping their players healthy. No pitchers have had any major surgeries, which I really like. They keep their players healthy.”
Piechoa becomes the third Batavia baseball senior to choose a D-I program, following outfielder Laren Eustace (Indiana) and infielder Micah Coffey (Minnesota).
Indiana also showed some interest in Piechota but was taking a wait-and-see approach, Piechota said.
The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder already has raised his fastball velocity from the upper-70s to the mid-80s in recent months while referring to a velocity program from the National Pitching Association.
“I’m still doing that, and it’ll hopefully keep increasing my velocity,” said Piechota, who could also compete for time at first base in college.
Piechota said an assistant coach at Western Michigan noticed him while he was competing at a travel tournament at Notre Dame in July with Team Pro Player. He’s made a pair of trips to the Kalamazoo, Mich., campus since, and plans to take an official tour of the Mid-American Conference school in the coming weeks.
One of Piechota’s instructors with Pro Player, Ken Raines, was a former pitching standout at Western Michigan, while ProForce Sports Performance owner Chris Browning – with whom Piechota trains – played college football at WMU.
“He’s really excited about my commitment,” Piechota said of Browning, a Batavia graduate. “He kind of, not swayed me, but reassured me I was doing the right thing. He loved the campus and loved the atmosphere.”
Piechota was one of the key arms as a junior for the Bulldogs, who finished 27-7 after being upset by Hoffman Estates in a regional semifinal.
Piechota could ascend to Batavia’s ace this spring for a pitching staff that also could feature fellow lefty Evan Acosta and Colby Green, with Eustace likely serving as the Bulldogs’ closer.
Batavia’s senior class already includes five college recruits – the D-I trio, plus Green (Upper Iowa) and infielder Andrew Siegler (Judson University).
“I’ve played with them since I was 8 years old and always knew there was something special about our class,” Piechota said. “I knew we’d be really good once it came to high school.”
Piechota’s older sister, Caitlin, plays college volleyball at Western Carolina.
Nebergall to Bowling Green: Geneva boys soccer senior Beck Nebergall has committed to Bowling Green, according to his club program, Campton United.
The versatile Nebergall scored eight goals and had three assists in the fall for the Vikings. Bowling Green also competes in the MAC.
• Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.