Danny's dream of college baseball making impressive progress

Evart's Danny Witbeck a sophomore at Northwood University

Danny Witbeck (gray sweater) visited with his former Evart teammates earlier this season. He is now at Northwood.

Danny Witbeck (gray sweater) visited with his former Evart teammates earlier this season. He is now at Northwood.

File photo

EVART – Danny Witbeck was an All-Stater and Pioneer baseball dream team Player of the Year his final season as a pitcher and hitter for the Evart Wildcats.

He now has a year under his belt of trying to make the transition from high school to college at Northwood University.

Witbeck only saw 1.1 innings of duty as Northwood worked him into a steadier routine. He struck out a batter and didn’t allow a run. He’s exclusively a pitcher.

“It was really fun being with all the guys and my first year of college,” Witbeck said. “I didn’t throw too much but came in a little bit. The main focus was a building block and controlling all your pitches, not just your fastball but locating everything more. I’m working at spotting more pitches so I can be consistent and not walking many batters.”

Jake Sabol is Northwood’s coach.

“Danny is such a great kid and someone we are thrilled to have in our program not only from what he brings to us on the field but also off the field,” Sabol said. “I know he’s gone through quite bit in his life. He always has a smile on his face. He’s a great teammate. He’s just someone who keeps getting better.

“When he came in here, we were a little unsure of what we were going to get out of him. He played locally for Midland Berryhill (travel) ball so we were able to see him quite bit during the summer time before he stepped foot on campus. He just kept getting better. He’s big time strike thrower. He’s a competitor. His fastball is mid 80s for now but he can throw two or three pitches for strikes. He has a pretty good feel for how to pitch and how to control the run game. There’s a couple of different arm slots which he throws from which makes it tough for hitters.”

Sabol noted Witbeck saw limited action.

“He was a little behind when it came to us opening up in February,” Sabol said. “He had a little bit of a setback and was struggling a little bit indoors. So we worked him along. Toward the end of the year, he came along and pounded the strike zone. That’s what we needed. We needed someone to come in and get some outs for different situations.

“It was a unique first year for him but we continue to expect him to continue to keep getting better. He’s playing here locally during the summer with the Midland Tribe and he’s facing college hitters which is what he needed in order to come in this fall and compete with the pitchers we have now. If he’s comes in and builds on his velocity and figures out different ways of getting college hitters out, I think we’ll expect Danny to have a pretty good career for us.”

Northwood is joining the Great Midwest Athletic Conference this season.

“Next year looks pretty hopeful,” Witbeck said. “We’re graduating some key players but are bringing back a lot of people. We’ll be really good.”