Napoleon senior Landon Willeman had a curveball thrown at his future last week when Bowling Green State University announced it was immediately cutting its baseball program.
Willeman, a standout pitcher for the Wildcats, signed a letter of intent to play baseball at Bowling Green State University and was to begin going to school there in the fall. Now his future plans, which include hopes of playing Major League Baseball, are all up in the air.
“It’s really tough,” said Willeman. “There are so many things to work through. I knew I had made the right choice (to go to BGSU). I loved the coaching staff and the facilities. It’s tough wrapping my head around this.”
Bowling Green State University announced Friday it eliminated its baseball program as part of a $2 million reduction to the operating budget of the school’s athletics department.
Willeman said he was told by his coaches while driving.
“They told me to pull off so I knew something was wrong,” said Willeman, whose scholarship to BGSU will be honored for four years. “I am playing it by ear and seeing what options I have.”
As a freshman at Napoleon, Willeman was 3-2 with a 2.52 earned run average, striking out 21 batters. In his final two games that season, he tossed a complete game victory over Perrysburg and went nine innings in a 1-0 loss to Anthony Wayne.
Willeman followed that up with a 4-5 record his sophomore season. He had a 3.17 ERA with 67 strikeouts. Last season, Willeman was 4-4 (3-1 in the Northern Lakes League) with a 2.41 ERA with 70 strikeouts.
He also got the win in the Wildcats’ sectional tournament victory over rival Defiance.
Willeman, who announced on Twitter he was rejoining the recruitment portal, said he has been contacted by some junior college coaches. He has also begun weighing options outside of playing baseball in college.
A four-year starter on the golf team at Napoleon, Willeman said he has thought about remaining at Bowling Green and walking on to the golf team.
“It’s going to be tough leaving a sport I have loved my whole life and giving up my career goals,” said Willeman, who also lettered four years in basketball and one year in football at NHS. “It’s a really tough decision.
“It is an option (to play golf),” he added. “I get my scholarship for four years. I am going into education and (BGSU) has a really good program. That was another reason I wanted to go there to pursue my dream to teach as well.”
Willeman said he is trying to stay positive, but recognizes the number of setbacks he, and others in his senior class, have had to deal with during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” said Willeman. “The coronavirus caused me to lose my senior (baseball) season. That was tough, and now I might be losing college (baseball) for four years. It’s heartbreaking. There is no way to explain it.”