The Michigan State baseball team is just over three months away from the start of their 2017 season, yet today they received some great news in regard to their 2018 campaign. Local product Jesse Heikkinen, a pitcher from Holt, Michigan, announced today that he will be attending Michigan State next fall to join the Spartan staff.
Heikkinen had a very strong junior year at Holt, as he posted a 7-2 record to go alongside an impressive 1.10 ERA. He also struck out 82 batters last season, the second highest single-season total by any pitcher in program history.
In the third grade, Heikkinen said that his baseball team travelled to East Lansing to watch the Spartans play at Kobs Field at McLane Stadium, and he vividly remembers being one of the kids who chased down a foul ball out of the park. “I was standing on the stairs and the ball appeared to be clearing the bleachers, so as I watched the arc of the ball off the bat, I rushed down the stairs toward the kids who were unaware outside.” Heikkinen recalled, “Once the ball landed on the ground, all of the kids sprinted toward it, but they were too late as I dove on top of the ball.” Jesse says this ball still sits on his shelf at home, and his father loves to tell this story to everyone.
— Noel Jesse Heikkinen (@noeljesse) November 9, 2016
It was this first trip to the ballpark that immediately attracted Jesse to the idea of playing baseball at Michigan State. “I told my dad during the game that my new dream was to one day step on the mound as a Spartan.” During his freshman year, he started to draw Division I interest, and it was then that he realized it could be a real possibility.
He stated that his decision in deciding on the Spartans over Michigan and Central Michigan was very easy once he was formally offered a scholarship, because he was raised by two Michigan State alumni and so he has bled green and white his entire life. This third generation Spartan fell in love with the sights and sounds of campus, and he felt very comfortable by a coaching staff that was very active and engaging throughout the recruiting process. Also, watching Holt pitchers Justin Alleman and Andrew Sabrosky make the successful transition from pitching in the CAAC to the Big Ten helped sway his decision, as they were idols in his youth.
He says that pitching coach Skylar Meade was an influential part of his recruitment, as he has a proven track record of developing pitchers, and helping them succeed in the Big Ten and eventually professional baseball. He also noted that former director of Prep Baseball Report Brent Alwine helped him in the process as he shared his experience to help him make the best decisions throughout his recruitment. Lastly, Heikkinen said that his parents’ support and encouragement throughout the early stages of his career has been tremendous.
When asked about the state of the program, Heikkinen spoke highly of the increased success under manager Jake Boss Jr. As the Spartans have cracked the Top 25, and continue to land the top recruits in the state of Michigan, Michigan State will continue to develop into a strong team in the Big Ten. While the season just on the other side of winter holds a lot of optimism, the 2018 spring already looks bright as the Spartans will have Jesse Heikkinen to add to their pitching staff. As he makes the eleven mile trip across town and moves in to campus next fall, the baseball from his first game at McLane Stadium ten years ago may very well be packed in his bags.