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Sycamore's Haacker, Akins sign Division 1 scholarships

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013 11:16 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013 12:35 a.m. CDT
(Rob Winner – rwinner@shawmedia.com)
Nathan Haacker (center) signs a letter of intent to play baseball at Bradley University while being accompanied by his father Jim Haacker (left) and mother Heather Haacker (right) and Sycamore baseball coach Jason Cavanaugh (back) during a signing event at Sycamore High School on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013.

SYCAMORE - Nathan Haacker was set on going to John Logan Community College.

But Bradley's coaching staff saw the Sycamore senior catcher at Area Code tryouts and got in contact with him. Two weeks before school started, Haacker went to see the Peoria campus.

"Bradley called me and I went on a visit and I loved it," Haacker said. "It felt perfect. The facilities were great."

Haacker signed his letter of intent with the Braves on Wednesday in a ceremony at Sycamore High School.

Haacker led the Spartans with a .352 batting average and had a home run and 20 RBIs last season, helping Sycamore to a regional title and an appearance in the sectional finals.

Haacker said he was also receiving interest from Eastern Kentucky, Cincinnati, Quincy and Louisiana-Monroe.

Now entering his final year, Haacker is just happy to be playing at the highest level.

"Division 1, it's the best thing next to pro," Haacker said. "It's cool."

Akins signs with Buffalo: Kyle Akins always takes a look at the green sign that bears his name when he enters Sycamore.

It's a reminder of what he accomplished last season, winning the Class 2A 113-pound state wrestling championship.

On Wednesday, he crossed another accomplishment off his list by signing his letter of intent to wrestle at Buffalo. But even with both of those things now in proverbial rear-view mirror, Akins is training harder than ever.

"I think knowing that I'm going into it to be a Division-1 athlete, it kind of motivates me to work harder and get where I need to be before I go off to college."

Akins said he really pushed his conditioning this summer, doing CrossFit sessions all offseason up in Rockford.

Now his focus is solely on defending his state championship.

"Big pressure off the back for senior year," Akins said. "Obviously there's expectations, but the pressure's not there as much as it was last year."

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