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Kruse set for Hillsdale College

Lutheran North 2014 graduate Will Kruse is taking his pitching talents to the college level at Hillsdale. Photo courtesy of the Kruse family

August 21, 2014
By Bob St. John

Sports Editor

Three-sport standout Will Kruse is doing everything necessary to make sure his freshman year of baseball at Hillsdale College is the best it can be.

He was the starting quarterback, power forward and pitcher for Macomb Lutheran North High School. The Class B school of 500 students gave the 18-year-old City of Grosse Pointe resident everything he could ask for in high school, a great education and highly competitive athletic field.

"I loved Lutheran North and thankful I received such an outstanding education in my four years at the school," Kruse said. "It really prepared me for college and playing tough competition in the Catholic League made me ready for what is ahead of me at Hillsdale."

He will play men's baseball for head coach Eric Theisen and the Chargers, a member of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Chargers finished 17-33 this spring, but a majority of the team returns.

Kruse enjoyed all three sports and earned All-Catholic honors in each, but the 6-foot, 3-inch, 205-pound pitcher prefers baseball. He is currently throwing in the mid 80s and hopes to get that number to 90 mph during his four years on the Hillsdale baseball squad. In his senior season, Kruse pitched 38.1 innings, earning a 5-2 record with a 2.557 earned run average. He struck out 44 and walked 20.

As a junior, Kruse was 4-3 with a 3.00 ERA in 46.2 innings pitched. He struck out 55 and walked 26.

"I know I will have some great coaches and trainers to work with, so I'm really going to work hard to get my speed up to 90," Kruse said. "I know I can do it if I put my mind to it."

He also had interest in attending Kalamazoo College, but Hillsdale won out after Kruse made a visit.

"I liked the feel of the campus and the coaches, plus it is a great academic college," Kruse said. "I get to be a college baseball player and get a great degree in four years. I can't beat that."

He started his senior year by earning an Honorable Mention All-County at quarterback for the Mustangs. He guided the Mustangs in the Catholic League AA Division against Dearborn Divine Child, Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard, Detroit Loyola and Pontiac Notre Dame Prep.

"It was definitely a tough division and we played against some good competition in the Catholic League," Kruse said. "It was a tougher schedule, but it made us better football players."

In the winter, Kruse played well enough to earn All-Catholic and All-County Honorable Mention while competing in the Intersectional I Division with Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood, Allen Park Cabrini and Royal Oak Shrine.

He had individual success and used that as a springboard into a very good final season of high school baseball.

"Baseball has grown into my favorite sport and I had a nice senior year for Lutheran North," Kruse said.

He began playing baseball for the Grosse Pointe Little League at age 7 and blossomed into a hard-throwing pitcher. He throws a fastball, curveball, splitter and change-up.

Kruse played games at Michigan State University and Comerica Park, so he isn't intimidated by playing college baseball.

"I am more excited than nervous," Kruse said. "I have been working hard for this opportunity my entire life and it's almost here."

Hillsdale coaches gave Kruse a workout schedule, which he adheres to on a daily basis. He wants to add some muscle to his frame so he can play his best for the Chargers.

He also played summer travel baseball, which gave him a taste for what facing college pitching will be like come fall ball at Hillsdale.

He might start in the Chargers' bullpen, but he hopes to make the starting rotation at some point his freshman season.

Kruse reports to Hillsdale for orientation Aug. 24 and classes begin Aug. 27. There are six weeks of fall ball to go with practice and working out for the baseball team.

"I know school will be busy and I'm a little nervous with such a tough workload ahead of me," Kruse said. "I will do my best and I have been able to balance academics and athletics for four years at Lutheran North, so I'm ready for this challenge."

He finished high school with a 4.09 grade point average and is studying a pre-dental curriculum before applying for dental school at U-D Mercy or U-M.

"I want to be an orthodontist and this is the start to that career," Kruse said. "I'm excited to meet new people and make new friends at a great college."

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