Skyline High School pitcher Eamon Horwedel may look polished when he toes the rubber these days, but the 18-year-old hurler remembers a time when baseball – while still a joy – was quite a learning experience.
“I first started playing when I was just a toddler – Wiffle ball mostly, but also with a small Cleveland Indians toy bat and a soft cover ball,” Horwedel said. “I played a lot of catch with my dad, and also with my neighbors Brandon and Ryan Wade, and my two sisters. I remember seeing if we could get to 100 straight throws without dropping the ball.
“Brandon, Ryan and I would also team up and take on my dad in driveway Wiffle ball pretty much daily. We would make up fake players, but my dad was always the Indians. I think he would let us win a lot, but when he did beat us, it would make us mad.”
Baseball, as you can see, is in Eamon Horwedel’s blood.
That’s why, even though his high school career is in its final days, he still is eyeing playing baseball at the next level.
“I’m going to Ohio University, actually this summer as an early enrollee,” he said. “I really wanted to play Division I baseball in college, and Ohio seemed like a great fit for me. They’ve won the MAC and have been to the NCAA tournament two of the last three years.
“The campus is beautiful, it really has that ‘college’ feel. I’m very excited about going there. I stopped in Athens the two times I went to the USA Baseball National Team tryouts in North Carolina, and I fell in love with the place. They never really recruited me, but last summer, on the last prospect camp I attended, they asked me to come back for a second look, and then they offered me a scholarship. It was pretty last-minute, but I couldn’t have been happier.”
Ohio University is in Horwedel’s future, and there’s good reason for that. His high school career has been stellar, and he’s not done yet.
His freshman year, he was Honorable Mention All-Conference and was also named Best Pitcher at Skyline that year. He went 5-1 as a starter with 62 strikeouts and eight walks with an earned-run average of 1.75.
Horwedel’s sophomore season at Skyline was another learning experience, but he rebounded last year, earning both First Team All-SEC and First Team All-District honors as a junior.
“My sophomore year I tried to throw it past everybody and it didn’t go as well,” he said, “but my junior year I got back to pitching instead of throwing.”
He went an impressive 6-2 with 69 strikeouts and five walks in 52 innings with an ERA of 0.64 during his junior season last year with the Eagles.
Those are his individual stats, but Horwedel is more than just a “me” player. He’s a team guy, as well. When he speaks of goals, yes, personal numbers are involved, but he also talks of team wins.
“I’d like to see us win 20-plus games and get through the districts,” he said.
Through 18 games, Skyline was 12-6 overall and 7-2 in the conference, and Horwedel is a major reason why the Eagles have enjoyed such success.
“I feel like I’ve been pitching as well as I did last year and I feel more in control of all my pitches,” he said. “I have a lot of confidence when I’m on the mound. I also feel good at the plate, and my defense is something I really worked hard on in the off-season at short. This season I feel like more of a leader, since I’m one of the captains along with Darryn Davis, Sean Haddlesey and Cal Floyd.
What about personal goals this season?
“On a personal note, I would like to break the fewest walks in a season record, and it would be really cool if I made the East-West All-Star Game at the end of the season and got the chance to play at Comerica Park,” he said.
He may just have a shot at Comerica Park. Eamon has already set the career strikeout mark at Skyline, and he set the single-game mark of 17.
Whether or not he goes to Comerica Park, he will play at the next level at Ohio University, and he will no doubt recall his days playing Wiffle ball with his dad, neighbors and sisters. And, then travel ball. And then high school.
It’s been a learning experience for Eamon Horwedel, and there will no doubt be more learning to be done at Ohio U, where the Skyline National Honor Society Student will study engineering.
He points to his parents as the major influences in his life.
“My parents have taught me how to live right, and how to carry myself,” he said. “How to be respectful and grateful.
“My dad has been there every step of the way. He played catch with me every morning before elementary school at Haisley. He has probably hit me a million grounders and fly balls over the years, and he coached me in my first years of travel ball.
And what about mom?
My mom has also been there the whole time, she would play catch with me too, until she got too scared,” he said with a laugh.