As a little boy picking up a baseball for the first time, Madison College pitcher Derek Heffel always dreamed of playing in the big leagues. Starting at the age of 14, Heffel began his quest to play at the next level with the goal of playing Division 1 baseball.
As a junior at Racine St. Catherine High School in Racine, Heffel began getting looks by college coaches. This was due, in large part, to playing for the Racine Hitters Baseball Academy, a high-level summer baseball program where teams compete all summer in front of the country’s best college coaches.
Heffel began catching the eyes of some Division 1 coaches, and started getting calls his senior year. He was contacted by Missouri State, UW-Milwaukee, and Western Illinois. He didn’t feel any of these schools were a good fit, so he decided to come to Madison College.
“The reason I came to Madison College is because of the program Coach (Mike) Davenport has built. He is fantastic coach and a great human being,” Heffel said.
Heffel posted a 9-1 record his freshman year, led the team in innings pitched, and was second on the pitching staff with a 2.51 ERA.
“Derek filled big shoes in being our go to pitcher all year,” Davenport said. “He was dominant all year, and ended up being our top pitcher going into our tournament.”
Davenport added that, “Derek is as hard working as it gets. He comes everyday with the mindset of trying to get better however he can. The competitiveness is a strong asset for Derek, and that will lead him to success with whatever he takes on in his life.”
Coming into this season, Heffel was looked at as the ace for Madison College.
His efforts again opened eyes of many Division I college coaches. He has been in contact with many schools, including: Auburn, Kentucky, NIU, Wright State, Central Michigan, and Middle Tennessee State.
After visiting, talking, and many hours of thinking, Heffel decided on continuing his baseball and academic career at Middle Tennessee State University. Many things went in for picking MTSU as his school, some of them being amount of scholarship, good academic school, and the way it made him feel at home.
Middle Tennessee State is located in Murfreesboro, Tenn., on the outskirts of Nashville.
“Being a country boy all my life, how can you get more country than Nashville, Tennesee?” said Heffel.
Heffel leaves Madison College with great appreciation for the support he has received from his coaches and teammates.
“Coach Davenport is one of the best in the business when it comes to coaching. His knowledge for the game is unbelievable, and all success I have had here at Madison and any success I have moving forward will all be because of Coach Davenport,” he said.
Although Heffel’s future is set, there are still many games left in his second season here at Madison College, including the playoffs, as Heffel and his teammates try to return to the World Series for the seventh consecutive year.