There's a payoff to spending the summer making pizzas for your dad's frozen pizza company.
"I'll be bringing pizza to school whenever I can," said Mundelein senior Mitch Schulewitz, who will start his freshman year at UIC at the end of the summer. "It's good pizza. It's the only pizza our family needs."
If Schulewitz's "new family" becomes just as hooked on Little Eddie's Pizza, he'll quickly become the most popular rookie on the UIC baseball team.
Then again, that could happen anyway, provided he stays as hot on the mound as he is right now.
Schulewitz, a powerful sidearm pitcher, cruised to a 10-1 record this spring and carried Mundelein to its second of back-to-back North Suburban Conference championships. He was 8-0 in league games and pitched shutouts in seven of them. The only run he allowed in NSC play was to Wauconda last month in the league title game, a 5-1 Mundelein win.
His eye-popping domination of every team in the NSC Lake Division pushed Schulewitz to the top of the list of candidates for captain of the Daily Herald's Lake County all-area baseball team.
"I've never seen anything like it since I've been coaching," said Mundelein coach Todd Parola, who just finished his 19th season. "I've never had a pitcher pitch that well in the big conference games. It was just a dominating season."
And Parola has seen his fair share of dominating pitchers over the years. In fact, one of them, former Mundelein star Kyle Zaleski, helped Schulewitz join the club.
Zaleski, who set a Mundelein school record with 14 wins in 2000 and also was named honorary captain of the Daily Herald all-area team before he moved on to pitch four years at Illinois State, is still playing baseball. He's pitched 14 innings with the minor league Southern Maryland Blue Crabs so far this season. During the off-season, he returns to the Chicago area to train high school baseball players through his business, Elite Power Pitching.
His workouts focus on developing core and leg strength, and training pitchers on how to better rely on their legs and hips for power.
"There's no one in the area who deserved to have an outstanding year more than Mitch. He worked hard for it," Zaleski said. "He's been working out with me the last two seasons and he's been able to go from this specialty movement guy (sidearm) to a pitcher with some power because he's generating power and energy from the ground up, using his feet and his hips. His arm is just along for the ride.
"You end up throwing a lot harder this way."
Schulewitz says that despite staying with a sidearm release, which typically generates slower pitches, he's made noticeable velocity gains since working with Zaleski.
"When I started the program two years ago as a sophomore, I was around 78 miles per hour and now I'm around 88 and I've been able to hit 90, 91," Schulewitz said. "Not too many people throw that hard from a sidearm arm slot. I think (being able to throw hard) gives me an advantage. I also get a lot of movement on my ball from the side so it works pretty well for me."
Schulewitz fanned 70 batters over 58 innings this season and gave up only 8 walks. He is now one of six pitchers in Mundelein history with at least 10 wins in a season.
"Mitch just throws strikes," Parola said. "His ball moves well. He's got a lot of natural movement and he's just really competitive on the mound. He's a competitive guy. When we play flag football or dodge ball or floor hockey as a group during the off-season, he's all about winning. He wants to win at everything he does."
Schulewitz was also a winner at the plate this season. He finished with a .450 batting average, 30 hits and 24 RBI.
"I didn't expect to do as well at the plate as I did this year," Schulewitz said. "Last year, I really struggled hitting varsity pitching. I think part of the problem was that I was really hard on myself. I wanted so badly to do well that it kind of tensed me up.
"I worked a lot on hitting (in the off-season), but I mostly worked on my approach, on trying to be calm and relaxed and loose. I was trying too hard last year. This year, I was relaxed and I got into a good rhythm at the plate."
Schulewitz doesn't want to break up his rhythm. He's already moving through the summer workouts that UIC has sent him. He wants to be ready for next season.
"I'm really excited," said Schulewitz, who recently found out that his scholarship will include more money than originally anticipated. "UIC has been a powerhouse in the Horizon League. They've won like five or six titles over the last 10 years. It's going to be competitive. But I think I have a good chance to get some innings in my freshman year if I work hard now."
The UIC summer workouts include all the standard stuff: weightlifting, conditioning, drills.
"It also includes a nutrition plan," Schulewitz said.
Wonder if Little Eddie's Pizza made the cut.