Story and photo by Chet Piotrowski Jr.
Mattoon’s Jack Helms is staying home.
The senior Greenwave pitcher is taking his pitching talents just down the road to Lake Land College.
“Growing up in Mattoon, Lake Land has always been right there,” Helms said. “I watched them play baseball, and it was really cool. I went to one of their showcase camps last fall, and their coach pretty much offered me on the spot there. They’ve been in great communication of asking how I’ve been and what’s going on. When I was going through an injury, they were asking how I was doing pretty much daily.”
Helms said the communication process from Lake Land made it feel like home.
“The way they treated myself and my family – the hospitality they showed me was very great,” he said.
The right-hander, who posted a 5-2 record with a 2.10 ERA with 50 strikeouts in the regular season, said playing baseball at the collegiate level was always a goal.
“I didn’t really believe I was going to be pitching only until my sophomore year in high school,” he said. “That’s when I realized I was better at pitching than at hitting.”
My goal is to get as good as I can at baseball while developing as a person. I want to play past Lake Land, but, God-willing, we’ll see what happens.
He said he needs to increase his velocity on his fastball, which currently sits in the mid-80s.
“My problem right now is velocity,” he said. “I have two pretty good off-speed pitches. Lake Land really likes those. Mid-80s is not good enough to be high-level Division 1 yet, so I believe if I want to get there, my velocity needs to go up.”
Helms said several schools reached out to him, but Lake Land was where he really want to go.
“I just feel wanted there,” Helms said.