If all had gone as planned, Nokomis senior Evan Herpstreith would have been finishing off a successful junior season in June of 2020 with college coaches breathing down his neck. But the world had other plans and the 2020 spring sports season never happened; but while that didn’t keep coaches from drooling over the Redskins prospect, it did push back his commitment a little.
“COVID really affected the timing of my decision because colleges were reaching out at a later time than what was previously thought,” said Herpstreith, who signed his letter of intent with Lincoln Land Community College on Tuesday, Nov. 10. “I was thinking I would have decided by the end of the summer, but with no high school season, and a shortened summer, it really pushed back the decision a couple months.”
Still the matter wasn’t an “if” but a “when” for Herpstreith, the third of Scott and Cheri Herpstreith’s three boys who have been fixtures of the Nokomis baseball (and basketball) programs for a decade now.
Evan’s oldest brother, Tyler, graduated in 2014 and was a member of three regional championship teams. The last, his senior year, he shared with middle brother Andrew, who graduated in 2017. That was the only year there were ever two Herpstreiths on the same team as Andrew and Evan narrowly missed playing together by one year.
All three Herpstreiths put up big numbers at the plate and on the mound and were key to Nokomis’ success on the diamond, which yielded six regional championships between 2011 and 2019 and a record of 162-87-1, with just one losing season.
So it would be easy for each of them to err on the side of hubris when asked who was the best of the three when it came to their skills on the diamond. But one of the things that the stat sheet doesn’t show about the brothers is that their baseball IQ is the only thing greater than their talent level.
All three picked Andrew as the best hitter and Evan as the best pitcher. Both of the older siblings picked Evan as the best fielder (“but Tyler wasn’t far behind,” Andrew said), while Evan went with Tyler.
As far as the best overall player, that’s where confidence took over. Both Evan and Andrew picked themselves, while Tyler said it was a toss up between his two brothers, adding a caveat at the end.
“I like to think I have them at basketball though,” he added, in true brotherly fashion.
While the brothers were complimentary of each, no one rode the fence like the person who has watched them play more than anyone.
“Andrew hitting average. Tyler clutch. Evan opposite field. Andrew power hitter. Tyler junk pitcher. Andrew threw hard. Evan throws hard and has good at placement. Fielder, both Tyler and Evan for infield. Andrew and Evan for outfield. Overall, they can all play ball. Loved watching them all play and can’t believe we never got out of sectionals!”
In 57 words, Cheri Herpstreith gives a perfect, if somewhat biased scouting report for her sons. And she’s right, they can all three play ball, especially Evan, who will hopefully get one more shot to do so this spring.
Before COVID-19 stole his junior year, Herpstreith had already established himself as one of Nokomis’ most consistent threats on a team loaded with talent.
As a freshman, he batted .387, fourth best on the team, with 15 RBIs, 20 runs scored and seven doubles. He also showed great discipline at the plate with a team-best 15 walks to just eight strikeouts.
On the mound he was even better, going a perfect 4-0 with an ERA of 1.41, giving up just six earned runs on 15 hits in 29 and two-thirds innings. Herpstreith also struck out 46 batters and walked just 15 as a freshman.
Those numbers continued as a sophomore as he put up a 1.58 ERA with seven earned runs in 31 innings pitched, walking 16 and striking out 45.
Herpstreith’s average would dip slightly to .292, but he would again lead the team in walks with 17 and stole seven bases, tying for the team-best. At the plate, he scored 27 runs, tying for the team lead, had three doubles, two triples and a home run and drove in 15 RBIs. All told, it was a solid season and a great starting point for a junior on a senior-laden team with high hopes for a long playoff run.
Instead, Herpstreith got a long layoff. But rather than feel sorry for himself and his teammates, he waited for his chance to play with his summer league team, the Decatur Commodores, and made the most of his opportunities. And when the time came to make a decision, he made the best one available.
“Lincoln Land is close to home and I am familiar with it and the area. I have heard about the great coaching and success that has been present in the program for years,” Herpstreith said about why he chose the Loggers. “It was a tough decision, but I feel by choosing a junior college it keeps my academic and baseball future options open. I would like to thank my parents, my coaches in high school, Brian Pesko and Tim Miller, and my coach with the Decatur Commodores, Brandon Townsend, for helping me get to this point.”
Academically, he is looking into the agricultural field in the future, but Lincoln Land gives him some time to firm up those plans. More immediately, Herpstreith is hoping to play something... anything... one last time at Nokomis.
The decision on basketball, another sport both of his brothers played, is still up in the air, but hopefully baseball is still considered a lower risk activity by the time practice begins in April.
After all, the past year has been strange, but two straight seasons without a Herpstreith on the field in Nokomis? That would be really bizarre.
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