Jesse Heikkinen got an early taste of college baseball while attending a Michigan State game as a third grader.
And instantly, Heikkinen knew he wanted that to be him one day.
“I told my dad there that I’m going to be on that field,” Heikkinen said.
Wednesday, the Holt High School senior pitcher will make that childhood dream official when he officially signs a letter of intent with the Spartan baseball program and coach Jake Boss Jr.
Heikkinen will be among several high school seniors in the Lansing area signing with colleges for sports like basketball, volleyball, baseball, golf and track and field in the coming days.
For Heikkinen, Wednesday will make official something he had already known for a few years. He verbally committed to the Spartans in the fall of his sophomore year at an MSU-Michigan football game. And the left-handed believes his decision to join the Spartans can help him take a step toward achieving his ultimate dream of becoming a professional baseball player.
“If you look at the past three or four years and since (pitching coach) Skylar Meade has been there, he’s turned pitchers around,” Heikkinen said. “A lot of players get drafted into the minor leagues. Skylar does a good job of that and coach Boss. I know they do a lot of good recruiting. I’ve been to a couple practices out there and there’s always MLB scouts at the practice. Some schools are against that and they don’t want their players leaving, but MSU truly just develops players. I’m determined for myself individually to just play baseball for as long as possible and that it’s financially healthy for my family and myself. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do so as long as I can keep doing it, why not. Hopefully, I can reach as high as I can.”
For now, Heikkinen is concentrating on making sure he arrives on campus next fall as good of a pitcher as possible. Heikkinen has been able to put his complete focus on individual improvement the last two years with his college decision behind him and believes he’s made progress the last two years. That progress has helped him contribute to a pair of district titles for the Holt baseball team and put together one of the top seasons by a pitcher in school history last spring by going 7-2 with 86 strikeouts.
Heikkinen is using the next few months focused on continuing his progress so he can finish his high school career strong and help Holt to another successful spring..
“I’m just looking forward to being able to work on my velocity because I kind of trailed off during the summer with not being able to get in the weight room as much,” Heikkinen said. “That’s the bigger thing I’ve noticed too. At the Division I level, you’ve got to keep your weight lifting regimen throughout the season and find time for that. It’s harder in high school to find time for that, but I think that’s the big focus this year – maintaining strength through the season.”
Contact Brian Calloway at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.