November 14, 2018

Andrean’s Doolin, Lelito and Holtcamp sign letters of intent

MERRILLVILLE — Before Michael Doolin signed his letter of intent to continue his baseball career at Vanderbilt, he had to beg his parents to put their cameras down and join him for a picture.

Fenton Doolin and Theresa Doolin were doing what most parents do when their child reaches a milestone, snapping photos of their son as he sat at a table just outside of Andrean’s gymnasium.

There were plenty of 59ers teachers, staff members and students there to capture this moment, but that didn’t stop the Doolin parents from personally securing another memory in their son’s standout baseball career. Back in June, Michael Doolin led Andrean to its sixth state title by striking out 13 batters — a state record — in a 6-1 win over Silver Creek. He said his performance was a reflection of his hard work, which he plans to continue next year with his favorite team since he was 10 years old.

“It feels good to finally put it in pen and paper,” Michael Doolin said. “I’ve waited about two years. I think the baseball program speaks for itself. In my opinion, Vanderbilt is the top baseball program in the country and (has) the best facilities in the country. I love the campus. I love the coaches, so it was a perfect fit.”

When Commodores’ coach Tim Corbin offered a scholarship to Michael Doolin, what stuck with him the most about Corbin’s pitch was his emphasis on academics.  When they first met, he didn’t immediately mention baseball and assured Fenton Doolin and Theresa Doolin that their son’s schooling would come first. And if they needed any proof that his words were honest, he’s shown it.

Michael Doolin said Corbin constantly texts him to see how he is doing in the classroom and on the field. And it means a lot to him because although he has aspirations of building a career in baseball, he also has a passion for helping others and aspires to one day become a doctor.

“For as long as I can remember, he either said he wanted to play in the MLB or be a doctor,” Theresa Doolin said.

“We’re very blessed to have a son that is gifted both academically and athletically,” Fenton Doolin added.

Andrean coach Dave Pishkur commended Michael Doolin for not boxing himself in and thinking beyond a career in sports. But he also didn’t hold back when discussing just how talented he believes Doolin truly is. According to Pishkur, Michael Doolin notched a 0.72 ERA, struck out 128 batters in 79 innings and walked only 25 players last season. And even with his impressive stats, Pishkur is confident the senior will only get better during his final year and when he departs from the 59ers to possibly pursue a career in the big leagues.

“When he leaves our program, he’s going to hold just about every pitching record possible,” Pishkur said. “And I hope to say that at the end of the year, he’ll be the greatest pitcher that Andrean’s ever seen. And we’ve had some good ones considering (Oakland pitcher and 59ers alum Sean Manaea) just threw a no-hitter against Boston this year.”

Dream to reality

The Andrean boys basketball team started practice a few minutes later than usual on Wednesday, but coach Brad Stangel didn’t mind. His players made a detour before heading into the gymnasium — stopping to watch their teammate Matt Lelito sign his letter of intent to play baseball at Kankakee Community College.

Lelito is a center for the 59ers basketball team but also a catcher for the baseball team. Standing at 6-foot-5, Pishkur believes Lelito is easily one of the best athletes at Andrean and said he came up big for the 59ers last year when it counted most.

“At some point it just clicked for him,” Pishkur said. “He made a great bunt in the state game, had a great hit in the state game and scored a run. He just did well.”

Pishkur said Lelito was the 59ers’ most improved player during his junior campaign and commended him for never getting too dejected when he was in funk. Lelito said Pishkur helped him not only with his confidence but overall understanding of baseball and what it takes to be a great player and eventually play at the next level.

“I didn’t really know how it worked when I was younger,” Lelito said. “I kind of just thought everyone went if they wanted to go. But as I got older, I realized you had to work a lot harder to actually get to college and play baseball in college. I just kept working and it became more realistic.”

A golden opportunity

Joel Holtcamp wore a plain black Nike hoodie while signing his letter of intent. But if anyone wanted to know what school he would be attending, they didn’t have to look too far. His parents, Jamie Holtcamp and Maryann Holtcamp, wore Lee University shirts to show support for their son’s decision to continue his pitching career in Cleveland, Tennessee.

“They do everything for me,” Joel Holtcamp said. “My dad and my mom are always pushing me to work hard and go to the next level. And nothing is better than playing warm baseball.”

Jamie Holtcamp has been coaching his son since Joel Holtcamp was 12 years old. And after watching him sign, Jamie Holtcamp took a moment to reflect not only on his son’s career at Andrean but his entire baseball journey. He mentioned the countless hours of practice and numerous tournaments they attended which ultimately turned a dream of playing college baseball into a reality.

But even in the midst of congratulating their son, Maryann Holtcamp also made sure to recognize his teammates. Despite Michael Doolin, Lelito and Joel Holtcamp all playing at different schools and at varying levels, she believes the trio should be proud of wherever their careers continue next.

“It’s an opportunity a lot of kids dream of,” Maryann Holtcamp said. “And a lot of kids are talented, but they don’t get that opportunity to take their talents up in college. So I think for all three of these boys it’s an awesome thing. It’s absolutely awesome.”

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