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Johnson: Morris baseball producing college standouts

Published: Monday, May 5, 2014 9:24 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, May 5, 2014 9:30 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Courtesy of Taylor University Athletics)
Josh DeGraaf pitches for the Taylor University baseball team. DeGraaf, who has established himself as the Trojans' staff ace, is one of a number of former Morris athletes playing college baseball.

Last week, I wrote about the fact that six members of the state champion 2010 Coal City softball team still are playing college softball today.

The Morris baseball team has produced more than its fair share of collegiate players during the past few years. I decided I’d spotlight some of them here.

Two games into the Crossroads League Tournament, the Taylor University Trojans were 33-21 overall. Junior Josh DeGraaf was their pitching staff’s leader in starts (15), wins (eight), ERA (2.53), complete games (six) and strikeouts (93). To go with those 93 strikeouts, DeGraaf has issued only 12 walks. Opposing hitters are batting .254 against him.

Greg Struck is a sophomore infielder for the Elmhurst College Blue Jays who just completed a 15-22 season. Struck was the Jays’ second-leading hitter, batting .352 in 30 games and 29 starts. He slugged eight doubles and two home runs, had 23 RBIs, scored 14 runs and had a .427 on-base percentage.

The Concordia University Chicago Cougars were 32-5 entering the week and will play in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference tournament starting Thursday. Grant Davis, a freshman outfielder, cracked their starting lineup for a time in mid-April. Through the weekend, Davis was batting .190 and had scored five runs.

Two 2013 Morris grads are on the baseball roster at Illinois Wesleyan University. Catcher Jake Capko entered the week having played in 22 games and made 18 starts for the 21-16 Titans. Capko was batting .234 with a .329 OBP, a double, 13 runs and four RBIs. Also on the Wesleyan roster is freshman pitcher Brian Henry of Morris, who has yet to compile any statistics.

There was a Morris reunion of sorts Monday night, when Wesleyan hosted Concordia Chicago in the regular-season finale for both teams.

Kankakee Community College sophomore outfielder Kjeld Torkelson is batting .292 in 55 games with 11 doubles, a triple, two home runs, 29 RBIs, 33 runs and a .342 OBP. The Cavaliers are 35-19-1.

Sophomore infielder Kenny Milosovic has played in 20 games for a 35-17 Joliet Junior College team this season. Milosovic is batting .241 with two doubles, 10 RBIs, 13 runs scored and a .353 OBP.

Preston Miracle, a freshman right-hander, made five appearances, including one start, for the 28-16 St. Ambrose University Fighting Bees this season. He struggled, posting a 15.95 ERA and a 3-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 71⁄3 innings.

Assuming all of the players I listed here keep playing next year, the Redskins could very well crack double digits in alumni playing collegiate baseball at once. Current Morris players Trevor Lines (Creighton) and Tim Smyk (Illinois Wesleyan) already are committed, and I could see a couple of other players getting opportunities as well.

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