Your first year of college is all about new experiences. And for Joe Hoscheit, that meant turning on the jets.
In the first inning of Northwestern’s March 14 baseball game against LIU-Brooklyn, Hoscheit hit a ball to right-center field. The outfielder dove, missed and Hoscheit started running.
“I was running, I knew I was going to get a double, maybe a triple at least because I saw the guy dive and kind of lay out for it and the ball went past him. But when my coach was waving me around third base, I was like, ‘All right here we go,’ ” Hoscheit said. “I kind of slid in, and everyone was laughing. It was a good boost to my morale. It was in the first inning, so it was a good start to that game.”
It was his first home run as a Wildcat after graduating from St. Charles East last year. Even if Hoscheit said “it wasn’t a real homer,” it goes down as such in the box score. And now he’s Mr. Speedy.
“I was gassed after,” he said. “But we have plenty of guys with speed. I wouldn’t say I’m fast by any means at the college level.”
Experiencing a fresh burst of speed isn’t the only new thing that Hoscheit is transitioning to during his freshman year. Like any college freshman, he’s finding out about balancing his time, the rigors of college academics and meeting people.
Unlike most college freshmen, he’s started nearly every game for a Big Ten Conference baseball team.
Instead of making his life all the more chaotic, however, he said baseball has helped with his transition, with his teammates being the key.
“Having the baseball team and them around me almost all the time, they’ve been a great group of guys,” Hoscheit said. “I’m definitely glad that I have that. Baseball’s almost a fraternity in itself. A lot of people do fraternities, sororities, all that stuff. But baseball has definitely been a great experience so far, and I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to be around. It definitely made the transition a lot smoother.”
On the field, Hoscheit is quickly learning the difference between high school and college, namely that the pitchers are a lot better. He also has played third base for the first time. But what’s somewhat surprising, even for a talented player such as Hoscheit, is the impact he’s making on the Wildcats as a freshman. In 30 games, all starts, he’s batting .261 with a team-high 16 runs scored. He also leads the team with two home runs (including that inside-the-park home run), and he ranks second with six doubles and in the top five in hits (27) and RBIs (16).
It’s an impact Hoscheit didn’t expect to make.
“My brother (Mike) played baseball at Butler,” Hoscheit said. “He said the main difference is everyone on your team’s good. As a freshman, you’ll be lucky to get playing time, and just cherish any playing time that you get. I kind of had the mindset coming in to work as hard as I can, that’s all you can do coming in and see where it takes me.
“I’ve started every game except one. As a team, we really need to do better, and our season hasn’t been going well that way. But individually it’s more than I expected. It’s unexpected as a freshman, and I can’t really ask for anything more.”
In the first game of a doubleheader against Chicago State on Wednesday, Hoscheit finished with a triple and career-high 3 RBIs for the Wildcats (7-24).
• Vinnie Duber writes the weekly On Campus column for the Kane County Chronicle. To suggest a column topic about area athletes competing in college, email him at email@example.com.