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Normal U-High’s Jake Swartz dealing to start senior season

The latest, up-to-date local news provided by the Heart of Illinois ABC News team, with updates on community issues in the Peoria and Bloomington-Normal areas.
Updated: Apr. 13, 2022 at 10:35 PM CDT
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NORMAL (Heart of Illinois ABC) - Normal U-High senior pitcher Jake Swartz peered up at the scoreboard after the fifth inning against Chatham Glenwood last Wednesday night but before his eyes could focus in on the number (or lack thereof) in the opponent’s hit column, Swartz heard something behind him.

“I actually heard someone in the dugout say, ‘Oh, he has a no-hitter,” Swartz said. “That got me a little scared to be honest but luckily the baseball gods got me and I got it done.”

Swartz got it done and then some. The right-hander struck out 15 batters on his way to a no-hitter against perennial powerhouse Glenwood. It was a fantastic performance, but it wasn’t completely out of the ordinary for Swartz.

“It was just classic Jake,” U-High head coach Steve Paxson said. “He’s been doing this for a few years now. I just plan on him every time I give him the ball, he’s gonna give us a really good shot at winning games. He’s just a tough, tough competitor. His stuff is good but what he’s got between the ears is as good as I’ve ever coached.”

The no-hitter was the third of Swartz’s excellent high school career for the Pioneers and it’s that stuff “between the ears” that he thinks gives him an upper hand whenever he steps on the mound.

“My mentality when I’m on the mound is, and no disrespect to the other team but when I’m on the mound, I’m better than them,” Swartz said. “You have to have the mentality, that bulldog mentality that you’re not gonna lose. I just go with that mentality that no one’s going to beat me.”

And rarely does Swartz get beaten. He’s been downright terrific to start his senior season and he says he’s working every day day to get better.

“I’ve been throwing a lot of bullpens, just working on my craft,” Swartz said. “It’s like the motto: to win the lottery you’ve got to make the money to buy a ticket. I kinda just go by that.”

Swartz has gotten better and better with each passing season and Coach Paxson doesn’t see that progress stopping any time soon.

“I’m just really happy with his development,” Paxson said. “He’s still getting better and that’s the scary thing. he’s the type of kid that’s just hungry all the time and we’re just really lucky to have him.”

Swartz has signed to continue his baseball career at the University of Illinois but with the kind of tear that he’s on to start his senior season, is being drafted straight out of high school a realistic possibility?

“I’m in contact with several teams right now with the MLB teams,” Swartz said.

“It’s definitely a possibility now, but if not now, you know, then some time in his baseball career,” Paxson said. “It’s definitely in the cards for him.”

The pros are a real possibility for Swartz but for now, he’s focused on getting U-High back to state and winning that elusive state title. Whatever happens after the season will just come with time.

“We’re just gonna see how the season goes and if I get the looks I want then maybe it could be a possibility,” Swartz said. “But right now I’m locked in for the Illini.”

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