By BRADEN LAYER Daily News
Effingham Daily News
---- — LOUISVILLE - The catcher position is not for the weak-minded, and that's just fine with North Clay's Nate Micklautz. Crouched in his stance, Micklautz is responsible for directing the Cardinals' defense, barking out calls and backing up his pitcher to help the team.
His natural abilities to lead and assist others on the diamond have translated to a profound interest in medicine off it, and on Tuesday he made his college plans final. Micklautz will attend McKendree University next fall, where he will continue his promising career as a catcher on the Bearcat baseball team.
Yet when asked why he chose McKendree, his answer had nothing to do with sports.
"I'm really going for the education, that's a big part," Micklautz said. "I'm going to study medicine, that was really my final decision for McKendree."
Micklautz said coach Jim Boehne's staff at McKendree stressed the importance of his studies, and that his time in the classroom would always come first.
"He was really up front about everything," Micklautz said. "All of their assistants are very easy to get along with."
The friendly nature of the Bearcats' staff also has to do with their star recruit's vast talent. Micklautz was an honorable mention All-Midland Trail Conference selection in 2011, before earning first-team honors last spring.
North Clay coach John Frech has used Micklautz in a variety of positions over the past four years, ranging from third base to his current status as a veteran behind the plate, showcasing Micklautz's unselfishness and desire to always put the team first.
"Nate is an exceptional teammate and an overall great person to coach," Frech said.
Currently, Micklautz has helped guide his team to a 12-4 record, and said he plans to add a sense of toughness and determination to his college squad.
"I'm hoping to add a hard worker and hopefully a good catcher one of these days," Micklautz said.
All modesty aside, Micklautz has become one of the more talented catchers in the area, and Frech said he will bring a diverse skill set to the Bearcats.
"As far as McKendree goes, Nate will bring to the table exceptional speed, an electric arm, an exciting personality and a great person who takes instruction very well," he said.
Micklautz has learned a lot from his skipper, and said Frech has better prepared him for the trials that lie ahead.
Frech will need his senior to reverse roles and create some special memories for the Cardinals during Micklautz's final season, and that's just what the (hopeful) doctor has ordered.
"Ever since I met him, he's been making me a better baseball player and better person overall," Micklautz said. "He's been tremendous in making this happen for me."