Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL


July 12, 2013

Hecht headed to Illinois State Chooses college over New York Mets

Surrounded by professional baseball players and fellow Mets draftees, Ben Hecht was certainly feeling the temptation of the professional lifestyle calling his name.

Hecht, the St. Anthony graduate, traveled to Port St. Lucie, Fla. last month after being selected in the 31st round of the MLB Rule 4 draft in early June to work out with the team that drafted him. Despite the allure, Hecht decided to honor his commitment to Illinois State University and will be heading to college to play baseball instead of entering the minior leagues. The deadline to sign with New York was today, and now he will not be draft eligible until 2016."Seeing that makes you want to be a part of it just like anyone else. When I saw some of the outfielders and infielders, it made me want to sign that contract more, to have the top defense at the highest level," Hecht said. "Hopefully, I'll see them in three years."The St. Anthony righty certainly had the pedigree after the last two seasons, when he was named the Class 1A Player of the Year as a junior, finishing that season with a 10-0 record and a 0.75 ERA. His senior season was a bit tougher, finishing with a 4-1 record while striking out 97 batters in 51.2 innings. He was named to the Class 2A IHSBCA All-State team. Hecht impressed the Mets' scouts greatly on May 1, when he struck out 17 Neoga Indians on his way to a no-hitter.While going to college or the pros each had their merits, Hecht went with what felt comfortable. "I felt much safer going to college, learning there, getting in better shape," Hecht said. "There's nothing wrong with waiting a little longer, and reassuring yourself you won't get injured. Build up more of a repertoire of pitches, get my velocity up."Still, during his time in Port St. Lucie, there was enough there to give him pause on the decision to become a Redbird. "It was different," he said. "There's a challenge down there that's undescribable. It's something you want to be a part of."Hecht reports to Illinois State in mid-August, where he will play in the infield and pitch for the Redbirds. Playing the field and pitching was a key point in his selection of Illinois State earlier this year. The Mets and Hecht remained in communication for the month since the draft, with them trying to sell him on signing a professional contract. "They told me the fastest way to get to the MLB is to start your career out of high school, which I don't doubt," he said. "I'm still thinking about what could have been."Hecht will be playing ball around the area after his summer league with the St. Louis Pirates ended. He said he'll play a bit for the St. Anthony travel team and hopefully for the Effingham Post 120 American Legion team as their season wraps up shortly. "I don't want to be greedy, I have to wait my turn," he said."As much as I want to be down there right now, I think I made the right decision. "I hope I did."

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  • Ryan.jpg Czachorski: Lunt the right man at QB

    There haven't been many times I've put pen to paper — or I guess more fittingly finger to keyboard — and written about the Illinois Fighting Illini.
    Part of it is due to their football team's struggles, as it's hard to have an opinion on them outside of "man, they went 1-7 in the Big 10 last year" or "I remember that one time they went to the Rose Bowl, but that's about it." Part of it is staying in my wheelhouse, which is MAC football and my alma mater Central Michigan Chippewas, a topic that doesn't concern many, if any, around here.

    August 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • NeogaGresens.jpg Neoga prepares for upcoming volleyball season

    Another area team finds themselves with a new coach holding the clipboard this season.
    Susan Hutchinson is the new volleyball coach for the Neoga Indians, but she isn't new to the game of volleyball. Hutchinson coached at Mattoon for seven years when they were still in the Big 12 Conference. She said her new players had to get used to her coaching style very quickly.

    August 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • Bulldogs fifth at ISU

    St. Anthony took to the links for the second-straight day and had a strong showing at the Raider/Redbird Classic.
    The Bulldogs finished fifth among a 20-team field, shooting a 318. East Peoria shot a 312 to win it, Normal U-High and Lincoln each shot 315s with Normal winning the tie-breaker, and Bloomington took fourth with a 317.

    August 21, 2014

  • DonovanHammer.jpg St. Anthony will lead with speed

    For the last five years, Eric Morales has been the assistant coach of the St. Anthony Bulldogs soccer team. But this season he will have his chance at the helm and try to help lead the Bulldogs to their first regional title since 2010.
    St. Anthony is missing six seniors from last years team, including its leading goal scorer and starting goalie.

    August 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • JakeLinders.jpg Flaming Hearts win St. Anthony Invitational

    The Flaming Hearts of Effingham were the overall winners and also had the medalist. Effingham shot a team score of 312 to beat the host Bulldogs by nine shots. Hearts senior Jackson Wendling finished with a 72 to take medalist honors.

    August 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • Willenborg.jpg Teutopolis takes opener against St. Thomas More

    Teutopolis took the course with a new coach and four players, but as coach Becky Probst said, it takes four to score.
    And those four Lady Shoes took their first match of the year, topping Champaign St. Thomas More 216-227 in both teams' openers at Cardinal Golf Course in Effingham.

    August 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • callawaysmith.jpg Time to tee off, golf season starts fall sports campaign today

    The fall sports campaign kicks off in earnest Monday afternoon, with the first area varsity contests being held in Windsor and Effingham this afternoon.
    The St. Anthony Invitational boys golf tournament will be held at Fox Prairie Golf Course at 1 p.m. in Windsor, while the Teutopolis Lady Shoes host St. Thomas More at Cardinal Golf Course at 4 p.m.

    August 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • AndrewBingham.jpg Flaming Hearts' flexibility a plus; Effingham prepping for upcoming soccer season

    Three days into the practice season, Effingham soccer coach Aaron Witges sees a lot of flexibility.
    It was something his squad had last year, with 10 seniors but young players forcing their way into the lineup as well.
    Coming off a 10-8-3 season, some of those young players will find themselves in new positions for the Flaming Hearts this season.

    August 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • 8-16 eff volleyball.jpg Flaming Hearts set with new coach

    The Effingham Flaming Hearts volleyball team will have a new but familiar face leading them on the sideline this season.
    As a former player for the Hearts, coach Mindy McCollum-Boswell will look to lead her team to their first regional title since 2008.

    August 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ryan.jpg Czachorski: Bears backups worrisome

    This might sound shockingly similar to a number of columns I've written in the past, but it bears repeating (excusing a terrible pun).
    The quarterback situation is worrisome.

    August 15, 2014 1 Photo

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