It wasn't a hasty decision, but Matt Dennis' decision to focus on baseball quickly yielded results.
Such as a few extra miles per hour on his fastball.
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Which helped clarify his baseball future, as Dennis, a senior at Rolling Meadows, committed to a baseball future at Bradley this week.
Bradley happens to be the same place Dennis' high school coach, Jim Lindeman, placed his college ball. More important than that connection, though, was Lindeman's suggestion about how Dennis might become a better pitcher.
"Coach has always been really big on adding strength, and how important that is for a pitcher," said Dennis. "But it really surprised me how much of a difference it can make just by concentrating on one thing."
Dennis estimates that he's added about 4 mph to his fastball just since the summer. That's the perfect complement to his changeup and a curveball that's always been strong.
"He came into Rolling Meadows as a freshman with a good arm, and he's just continued to get bigger and stronger the whole time," said Lindeman. "He's always had a curveball that's really exceptional, so adding a little velocity to his fastball will only help that."
It was good enough last year for Dennis to have a sub-3.00 ERA. He'll be one of the top returning starters in the Mid-Suburban League and aims to lead the Mustangs to collective success.
"I want to be the leader of this team," he said. "My job is to make sure we're focused on what we're doing, hopefully to give us good performances but also just make sure we're really applying ourselves every time out."
Dennis said the final decision came down to a choice between Valparaiso and Bradley.
"I think the school overall, and the facilities for the program kind of helped me decide," he said. "And Bradley plays in one of the highest-level baseball conferences in the country. It just felt like the right place for me."