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Kaneland graduate Peters links up with 'dream school'

Former Kaneland left-hander Drew Peters is transferring from Elgin Community College to Bradley, where he hopes to make the baseball team.
Former Kaneland left-hander Drew Peters is transferring from Elgin Community College to Bradley, where he hopes to make the baseball team.

Drew Peters explains in several words the parameters of a baseball opportunity awaiting him at Bradley.

He captures his attitude toward it all with far more brevity.

"I'm excited to prove myself," Peters said.

Recently removed from a two-season stint at Elgin Community College, Peters, a former Kaneland left-hander, will take a full-time spot on Bradley's fall roster without consuming a scholarship slot for his junior season.

He is not a preferred walk-on, just an experienced pitcher vying to make the Braves' 2015 team before ideally joining Bradley on scholarship for his senior season in 2016.

"Obviously, I've got to keep working hard, but I'm excited," Peters said. "It looks like a very good opportunity for me."

Peters earned some academic scholarship money to the NCAA Division I school in Peoria after also excelling in the classroom at ECC.

On the mound, he ranked fifth on the team with 25 2/3 innings in 2014 while going 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA and 21 strikeouts. His fastball velocity has hovered in the mid-80s, an attribute he's looking to enhance while pitching with the Crystal Lake Cardinals of the Metro Collegiate Baseball League of Illinois this summer.

Fellow Kaneland product Bobby Thorson, who joined Peters on the Knights' Class 3A state championship team in 2011, also is playing with the Cardinals as a right-hander and corner infielder. The two regularly carpool to games, but Thorson already has paved the road from ECC to Division I.

Recovered from a torn ACL he suffered with the Cardinals in 2013, Thorson helped Campbell's Fighting Camels to a Big South Conference title and an NCAA Regional elimination game against host and in-state foe South Carolina. He pitched 5 1/3 innings of relief in Campbell's season-ending, 9-0 loss last month.

Peters had hopes of beginning his college career at the Division I level, recalling the Braves' interest in high school. A bone contusion in his collarbone, suffered after a collision with a teammate, curtailed Peters' senior season in 2012.

Through it all – including visits to Indiana Tech and Division I Arkansas-Pine Bluff, which offered a full scholarship – Peters never abandoned Bradley as his "dream school." In addition to baseball, he's also fond of the university's mechanical engineering program.

"I was looking there out of high school and got hurt my senior year," Peters said. "I'm glad I came back there."

Tarter recovery on time: Next week will mark seven months since former Marmion lefty Tim Tarter of Batavia underwent Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow.

That puts the countdown to his return to full activity at T-minus four months and counting.

"Right in time for the season in February," Tarter said.

Out since Dec. 16, 2013, Tarter, a Grand Valley State redshirt junior, looks to rebuild the end of his collegiate career after a series of transfers and injuries. He was looking to do so at this time last year before tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow as the Lakers' fall season concluded.

"I was feeling good and practicing all fall, but the last day of the fall intrasquad in October, I felt a snap in my elbow," Tarter said. "And the next day I found out I had torn my UCL."

Tarter opened his career at NCAA Division I Illinois-Chicago in 2012, compiling a 5.88 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 49 innings over 19 appearances, including 10 starts.

He transferred to Elgin Community College proactively, citing a rash of late-season injuries to fellow Flames pitchers as a potential red flag. But health issues caught up to Tarter anyway, as he underwent a procedure to fix bone chips in his left elbow in the summer of 2013, shortly before he transferred to NCAA Division II Grand Valley State in Allendale, Michigan.

Lakers coaches told Tarter he should be part of the 2015 starting rotation. His rehab regimen is heavy on strength and conditioning as well as rounds of light catch.

A recent phone call from Cadets coach Dave Rakow prompted Tarter to join his alma mater as a summer assistant. Asking about something unrelated from Tarter's playing days – he graduated in 2011 – Rakow emerged with not only an answer, but some help.

"They respect me well; they know my past at Marmion," Tarter said. "I help with the pitchers a lot and they listen to everything I say. So it's been fun while it's been going on."

Shah seeks fresh start: Tarter's 19 appearances tied for second most on UIC in 2012, while his 10 starts and 49 innings ranked third.

Two years later, former St. Charles North lefty Ankur Shah sought similar exposure in his freshman season for the Flames. That the experience fell short is one reason he's transferring to NCAA Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater.

"I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to play Division I, but I felt I wasn't going to have the opportunity to succeed there like I was at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater," Shah said.

Shah pitched 8 1/3 innings as a freshman, striking out five with a 15.12 ERA. His final appearance for the Flames came in a Horizon League tournament game on May 22, when he threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings against Milwaukee.

Having success with a Wisconsin-based team instead of against one will hinge on his diligence in the weight room. The 6-foot-1 Shah hopes to add 15 to 20 pounds of muscle by his draft-eligible, junior season, putting him at an optimal weight of 180.

That, coaches reason, will make him more durable while increasing the chances to get his fastball consistently around the 90 mph range.

"If I gain weight, they think my velocity will jump and you never know what will happen after that," Shah said.

Shah stays sharp by throwing at North. His continuing ties to North Stars coach Todd Genke and assistant Terry Ayers helped open an opportunity at Whitewater, which captured the Division III national championship in May.

Genke played alongside Warhawks coach John Vodenlich at Whitewater, while Ayers also is a friend.

"They are coming off a national championship and are hungry for another one," Shah said. "It was hard to say no to that."

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