Bieterman catches on at Division I Abilene Christian
As the temperatures plummeted toward record-low levels around the western suburbs, let's start with some much warmer thoughts.
Earlier this month, former Aurora Central Catholic baseball standout Michael Bieterman committed to attend Abilene Christian University in the fall of 2019.
Bieterman, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound catcher, is currently preparing for his sophomore season at Heartland Community College in Normal.
A year ago, Bieterman appeared in 35 games for the nationally ranked Hawks, batting .303 with 27 base hits and 19 RBI.
Heartland, which finished 46-10 overall and 27-5 in conference play, compiled 10 shutouts while allowing opponents to post a .234 batting average against its quality pitching staff handled in part by Bieterman.
"Heartland has been a great fit for me," said Bieterman. "It's one of the most well-known community colleges around with a great reputation. Their coaches were in contact with me back when I was in high school."
Bieterman, who played last summer with the DuPage County Hounds, drew interest from other schools, including Oklahoma State, before making his choice with Abilene Christian.
"One of the coaches from Abilene Christian came out to one of our games this fall in Indianapolis," said Bieterman. "He called me the day after and I went on a visit two weeks after that."
The visit sold Bieterman on the Division 1 school located in central Texas.
"You've heard the saying, 'when you know, you know,' -- well, I knew that was the place for me," said Bieterman, who was accompanied on the visit by his parents, Rick and Sue, and his girlfriend.
"It felt like family."
Baseball has played a big part in the Bieterman family for quite some time.
At ACC, Michael was coached by his older brother, Sean, who played high school baseball along with his younger brother, Rick, at York.
"Baseball definitely runs in the family," said Bieterman. "My dad was a catcher at Murray State and both of my parents are still active in Elmhurst youth baseball."
Bieterman was a 3-year varsity catcher at ACC, leading the Chargers to 3 straight 20-plus-win seasons, including a 22-10-1 mark his senior year when he batted .425 with 6 home runs and 36 RBI.
"It was a great experience playing for my brother (at ACC)," said Bieterman. "I thought he actually was tougher on me but it helped me get to where I am today."
Saints see bright spots: It has been a trying season at times for St. Charles East's girls basketball team.
However, there have been plenty of signs of hope for the future, evidenced during last Saturday's 65-48 loss to 2-time defending Class 4A state champion Geneva.
While the Saints dropped to 4-20 overall with the double-digit defeat, they battled throughout and kept the game close for nearly three quarters -- a far cry from their previous meeting when Geneva jumped out to a 19-0 first-quarter lead.
"We're making progress -- that is the number one thing," said Saints coach Aubree Schuett. "I've got a room full of really young, energetic and athletic kids that are the future of the program."
That list includes freshmen Torrie Kortan (4 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists), Olivia Kiefer, Sofia Iori and Gabriella Schmidt, sophomores Makenna Brown and Leah Griffin (4 points, 2 steals), and junior Elle McCaslin (5 points).
McCaslin, a 5-10 guard/forward, made her season debut last weekend against Geneva and sank 5 of 6 free throws in the fourth quarter.
"She was cleared for contact about a month ago," said Schuett. "She's super athletic -- she's a Division 1 soccer recruit. She's a team-oriented person who is very positive. She's focused and she wants to contribute. We're glad that she's back."
Two impressive big men: Having had the pleasure of watching South Elgin's Vincent Miszkiewicz battle to-to-toe with Streamwood's Keenon Cole in two of their three meetings this season, I believe I've seen the pair of athletic 6-foot-7 forwards combine for at least 10 thunderous dunks and a reel full of highlight plays.
Cole, a Northern Illinois University recruit, scored 30 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in the teams' first matchup on Dec. 8 while Miszkiewicz more than held his own with 25 points, 13 rebounds and 3 blocked shots in South Elgin's 71-63 victory.
While Cole and his teammates got the better of it during the Sabres' 70-58 win over the Storm at the Jacobs Hinkle Holiday Classic on Dec. 29, South Elgin rallied for a 59-55 homecourt triumph on Jan. 17 -- the third game in 41 days between the Upstate Eight Conference rivals.
Senior guard Drake Montgomery led the Storm with 25 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists while Miszkiewicz added 23 points, 14 rebounds and 8 steals -- matching Cole's 24-point, 19-rebound effort.
I'm no college recruiter but it's my belief that Miszkiewicz deserves some Division 1 looks.
His coach, Brett Johnson, agrees.
"Vince may not be the same type of player that Keenon (Cole) is but I think he shows that he can compete because of his effort and intensity," said Johnson.
"From my perspective, he deserves somebody at the D-1 level to say, 'Hey man, we can mold you into something,' because he has that desire and will."
You can reach Craig Brueske at email@example.com