If there's a baseball game being played somewhere in Effingham, chances are pretty high that Drew Levitt is involved. He led the Hearts' varsity squad to a Class 3A Olney Regional title in the spring, and is a member of Post 120's American Legion roster this summer.
Should there be a day void of a game or practice, he'll just throw on his umpire attire and take control of an Effingham Park District affair."I work eight hours a day, and if we don't play Legion, then I'll ump," he said. "I don't ever get enough baseball."Levitt flat out lives for the sport, and it has been pretty good to him in return.
After wrestling through a number of late suitors, the recent graduate prolonged his career and signed to play for the Loggers of Lincoln Land Community College."My junior year I didn't have anyone looking at me," Levitt said. "I kind of lost hope. Then once one coach called me, I started getting a lot of calls."His senior season likely played a large part in the increased interest. The pitcher and third baseman hit .391 with a .630 slugging percentage, closing with 18 RBIs and a team-high 12 doubles.Effingham flipped the switch after a disappointing 2-7 start, playing the role of underdog in the playoffs as the No. 5 seed."No one expected us to win regionals," Levitt said,"Even myself. I was talking to my parents about it, they just said, 'Have Faith.'"Effingham began the postseason with a 12-inning, 4-2 win over Olney, then picked up another nail-biting victory in its 7-6 defeat of Salem. The Hearts' third win of the playoffs was the sweetest; a 1-0 victory over Mattoon to claim the regional championship in which Levitt's sacrifice fly and eight shutout innings on the mound proved to be the difference."People enjoy watching a winning team," he said. "It felt good with all the fans there."Levitt is leaving one strong program for another. Head coach Ron Riggle and the Loggers finished 2013 with a 36-22 record, and are in the midst of a facility overhaul, revamping the baseball field to make it one of the top playing surfaces in the state.The new fields are nice, but Levitt said Riggle's easygoing nature was the big selling point."The day that he called me, I didn't know him from anyone," Levitt said. "The way he talked on the phone, he acted like we've known each other forever. He had a lot of good stuff to say about the program. He's been there for many years."The 22-year veteran has a knack for producing top talent, including this year's sixth-round Boston Red Sox draft pick Ryan Aper, the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II Player of the Year.Levitt hopes to continue the strong tradition at Lincoln Land, wherever he may be playing. After sliding over to third from shortstop when he transferred to Effingham by way of Beecher City, Levitt could again be going through a position change."I know I'm going to be playing (in the) infield," Levitt said. "He really didn't say where. He'll try me out at third base, move me around to see where I'm comfortable at."If he has it his way, Levitt will stay at third. To do that, he's in the midst of a tough summer workout regimen, lifting four or even five times a week to build his physique."It's tough," Levitt said. "But I've got to get in good shape, get stronger."The added commitment shouldn't be a problem for Levitt, already balancing a full-time job and summer slate stuffed with Legion games to play and Park District games to ump. He's just eager to do anything he can to prepare for new competition. "It's a good feeling knowing that my career is not over," he said. "I can bring it to the next level. I'm glad I still get to play."
Braden Layer can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or at email@example.com