For most athletes, the transition from high school competition to the collegiate level isn’t an easy one.
As for Michigan State baseball freshman outfielder/catcher Jake Dresselhouse, he has seen production from himself in his first year as a Spartan.
Dresselhouse was a member of history during his high school career. He attended Orchard Lake St. Mary’s high school in West Bloomfield Township, and was a four-year letter winner for the Eaglets.
In 2022, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s had one of the best seasons ever by a high school team in the state of Michigan, going undefeated with a record of 44-0. The Eaglets added hardware to their championship room last spring as well, defeating Grosse Pointe North 1-0 in the Division 1 state finals. Along with becoming the first Division 1 team to go undefeated in a season, Orchard Lake finished its season ranked No. 1 in the entire nation by MaxPreps.
So, Dresselhouse had already become accustomed to playing baseball at the top level. In two seasons at the varsity level, Dresselhouse finished his high school career with a batting average of .400, smacking 108 hits, 105 RBIs, and 21 home runs. He also collected two-time honors of being a MaxPreps All-American for his stellar performances during his junior and senior years.
There wasn’t much left to prove for Dresselhouse. He earned himself a state title ring, accolades and intriguing stats just in his two years at the varsity level. He announced his commitment to Michigan State rather early (July 2020) without even producing some of his best baseball to that date. Nevertheless, after the high school season ended last June, it was time to switch gears to the college game.
The Spartans have been searching for talent to help them get back to winning ways for an extended period of time. MSU hasn't posted a winning record in a full season since 2017. The 2023 Michigan State baseball team seemed to have more promise than past campaigns going into the year, with lots of mixed seniority and potential bats to hopefully produce in the lineup.
With six incoming recruits for the Spartans, many positions were seeing competition, resulting in a few rotations throughout the field. Head coach Jake Boss Jr began to test some of the young talent he had, especially early on in the season.
Dresselhousse has been forced to learn quickly at the college level and pick up tips from his teammates to earn himself a place in the lineup on a consistent basis. After a few plate appearances, he immediately noticed a change in play.
“The game is, for me, sped up a little bit,” Dresselhouse said. “But you know, I find my time to slow myself down. Everyone is the same level of competition compared to high school where you have iffy kids, and then some really good dudes.”
In certain aspects, the game has appeared harder for Dresselhouse. His average didn’t exceed .100 until the sixth game of the year. During that six-game stretch, he recorded only two hits, one walk and struck out five times.
After back to back multi-hit games against Indiana State and Western Michigan towards the end of March, Dresselhouse saw his average climb to .250 following a series victory against Purdue on March 26, which would mark his highest batting average point of the season so far.
Dresselhouse noticed his slow start, but after Boss continued to give him chances in the lineup, he was able to get a better feel for the game.
“I feel like I started off a little slow,” Dresselhouse said. “But I’m adjusting as I can. It does have a chip on my shoulder with being a freshman you know, playing out here and on a great team with a bunch of great guys. I feel like if I just keep working my tail off, I’ll get more opportunities and see success soon.”
Dresselhouse knows that he wants to work on his hitting as he progresses throughout his career. Seeing college pitchers and their different deliveries has been a challenge to overcome for quite some time in his mind.
Boss recognizes his ambition, and has high praise for how Dresselhouse has adjusted so far, especially coming from the high school that he did.
“I think he is aware of some of the things that he needs to improve on in order to be successful at this level on a consistent basis,” Boss said. “But you know, he is a level-headed guy. Nothing really rattles him. He doesn’t get too high or too low. He’s a very mature player and that is going to serve him really well here.”
While Dresselhouse has shown flashes so far, there is still always room for improvement. The freshman is currently hitting .200 with five RBI’s, one extra base hit, with 50 at bats in 15 games started.
The fielding has been what has made up for Jake’s hitting at times. In 39 opportunities, Dresselhouse has cleanly fielded 38, giving him a .974 fielding percentage.
Boss has noticed the maturity in the outfield, encouraging him to allow Dresselhouse to split time with redshirt junior outfielder Greg Ziegler. Boss mentioned that he likes to rotate the two in center field, and whichever player is more streaky during a couple games or so, he will often keep them there for the next few contests moving forward.
The coaching decision has given Jake moments to come into his own as a college player. With three years left for the newcomer, there is a greater chance to shine ahead with more time to adjust and practice perfecting his craft. Boss knows this, and is excited for what is to come from the freshman.
“It’s tough for a freshman,” Boss said. “His best days are ahead of him, without a doubt. He is going to be a really really good player here.”