NORMAL — Preparing for their junior baseball seasons at Normal Community High School, Tommy Heideman and Griffin McCluskey have already made quite favorable impressions with college coaches.
Heideman has committed to sign a national letter of intent with Illinois State, while McCluskey has done the same with Valparaiso.
For Heideman, getting noticed was all about camping trips.
"It all started this fall when I went to a camp in Chicago and had some brief contact with them (ISU) after," Heideman said. "They wanted me to come to their winter camp. Then I went to a preseason all-state camp in Chicago about a month ago and after that they offered me."
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Heideman has yet to play varsity baseball for the Ironmen but hit .426 at the junior varsity level last spring.
"Tommy can play first base and potentially corner outfield," NCHS coach Ryan Short said. "They (ISU) are very high on him offensively. He has great power potential. He continues to get stronger physically, and he's cut a full second off his 60 time in the last year."
Heideman also credited Josh Kauten at K's Academy and his summer coaches with the Illinois Braves for aiding his development.
"I really like the ISU coaches. They didn't have to sell the program to me. I knew how great the program was," said Heideman. "They really liked my bat. I have the ability as a left-handed hitter to hit the ball really far."
McCluskey is a right-handed pitcher who had a stellar sophomore season for NCHS with a 4-0 record, a 1.11 ERA, 40 strikeouts and just four walks in 25 1/3 innings.
"Valpo will have guys who throw harder than Griffin, but he pounds the strike zone with three pitches," Short said. "He has a poise about him on the mound. Nothing fazes him."
McCluskey also batted .345 as the Ironmen shortstop and tied for the team lead in hits last spring.
"I liked the coaches there (Valparaiso). They made a really nice offer and it's a good school. It's just a good fit," said McCluskey. "I focus mostly on my control, hitting my spots. Getting stronger and increasing velocity are the big things."
McCluskey pitched in one tournament last summer for Short's BNBA 17 Gold squad and made the most of the opportunity.
"It was at Valpo and he dominated the team we were playing," Short said. "One of their coaches was there. He's gotten a lot of interest from coaches who have seen him play in the summer."