Xavier High School student-athletes Matt DeYoung and Erin Powers anticipate receiving similar Christmas gifts from family members this year — gear from the universities they will be attending in the fall of 2016. DeYoung signed his letter of intent to play Division 1 baseball at UW-Milwaukee. Powers committed to play basketball at Division 2 Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
“They recruited me as a two-way guy to hit and pitch,” said DeYoung, a first baseman when he isn’t on the mound. “I think they are going to see how I develop. If they really like me at the plate, they will keep me at the plate. If they like me more as a pitcher, they will keep me there. I’m excited for the opportunity to do both.”
DeYoung’s size, 6’5,” helps him at both positions. He hits from the left side and is a right-handed power pitcher. In addition to playing for the Hawks in the spring, he has developed his skills on the diamond playing for the Wisconsin Panthers. DeYoung hit .368 and posted a 2.25 ERA last summer.
“We travel to Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and Iowa,” he explained. “It’s really good competition.”
DeYoung lists Rick Cavaiani, director of the Panther Baseball Club and a UW-Milwaukee alum, and hall of fame coach Bruce Erickson, his coach with the Panthers, among his baseball influences.
Baseball is his future, but DeYoung is currently in basketball mode for the Hawks. He said that he will pick up the bat for some swings at some point during the hoops season, but is taking a break from the batting cage at this time. Xavier advanced to the WIAA Division 3 basketball state championship game last season. DeYoung led the Hawks with 13 rebounds in the title game. Despite some team injuries at the start of the season, expectations are high.
“I’m excited to get out and play with these guys,” said DeYoung, who started his Catholic education at the former St. Bernadette School in Appleton. “We have great chemistry.”
His younger brother, Nate, a sophomore, is a teammate on both the basketball court and the diamond.
“We work together well in baseball,” said DeYoung, who plans to major in marketing in college. “(Nate) plays shortstop and third base. It’s fun to play with him. He’s going to be a great ballplayer.”
Having his college plans in place will help DeYoung enjoy his final prep seasons.
“It’s definitely a huge weight lifted off my shoulders,” he said. “For baseball, we are going to have a young team. If we can play to our potential, we can be a tough match up for any opponent.”
Nova Southeastern University has a history of recruiting players from the Midwest. Powers connected with the Sharks coaching staff through her AAU team, the Wisconsin Lakers. Her visit to the campus sealed her college future.
“It was so pretty,” she said. “You look out and there are beaches everywhere. I sat on the beach with the team and thought ‘I could get used to this.’ I always wanted to venture off for college.”
The Xavier girls basketball team graduated three starters from the 2014-2015 squad that reached the WIAA Division 3 championship game, but in addition to Powers, who averaged a team leading 13.7 points per game, the Hawks return third leading scorer Rachel Siciliano and fourth leading points producer Kayla Gresl.
“I think we are still a good team,” said Powers. “We have a good group of girls.”
Xavier won its opener 80-57 over Appleton East. Powers scored 13 points. Among the changes this season is playing in the Bay Conference.
“We lost some good rivalries, so it’s time to make some new ones,” said Powers. “It’s a good challenge.”
In addition to basketball, Powers was also a standout softball pitcher for Xavier. She has decided to focus solely on her future college sport and will not play softball as a senior.
“When I was younger, I actually preferred softball over basketball,” she said. “As I continued to grow in basketball, I fell in love with the sport. I love how competitive and fast-paced the game is.”
Powers, who plans to major in history and study pre-law in college, credits all her coaches for helping her develop her game including Bob Hein, Mike Karisny and Xavier coach A.C.Clouthier. She said that her mother and older sister serve as her support system. Her father, Brian, helps her on the court.
“My dad goes to the Y with me after practice until 10 p.m. so I can get in some extra shots,” she said.
Powers is also happy to have the pressure of the recruiting process lifted.
“Obviously, you play the game because you love it,” she said, ”but it’s tough when you have to worry about getting recruited and your stats.”
She looks forward to her final season in the historic Torchy Clark Gym.
“I love the Torch,” said Powers. “It’s such a cool gym to play in. It’s so loud.”