By MARK URBAN
TRAVERSE CITY -- From the Big North to the Big Ten.
Senior Kevin Krantz will become the seventh Division I baseball player coached by Traverse City Central's Ian Hearn -- the first in the Big Ten -- when he plays for the University of Michigan next season. Krantz made it official when he signed a national letter of intent with the Wolverines on Wednesday.
"It is very exciting and I'm very happy to be going to Michigan," said Krantz, who will receive a partial scholarship.
The Wolverines are coming off a successful season that ended with a loss to eventual national champion Oregon State in the NCAA Super Regional. Michigan (42-19) knocked off No. 1 ranked Vanderbilt in the regional.
"It's very exciting what Michigan is doing with their baseball program right now," Krantz said. "Their program is heading in the right direction. It's good to say I'm finally a Wolverine now."
"It's a great program to be going to," Hearn said.
Krantz is coming off a record-setting season for the Trojans in 2007. He set single-season records for slugging percentage (.848), on-base percentage (.617), walks (38) and triples (3).
He also drove in 44 runs, scored 48 and stole 17 bases. Krantz's 11 career homers are four behind the record shared by Jason Cairns and Vince Khoury.
The switch-hitting shortstop/pitcher also led Central in batting average (.475) and home runs (8) in 2007. Both are second on the all-time season bests for the Trojans.
Not bad for a player hitting left-handed full-time for the first time.
"When I was younger I always played around with hitting left-handed," Krantz said. "I would hit left-handed just to try it out, but I never really dedicated myself to it full time.
"I went to Missouri to a baseball camp and got an opportunity to play everyday and hit everyday. That was where my left-handed swing got a lot better and I was able to confidently swing left-handed."
Of course, Krantz's versatility was already evident when the Division I schools came calling.
"He's such a tremendous athlete and tremendous baseball player," Hearn said. "He was recruited as a Division I pitcher by Michigan State and he signed as a shortstop at the University of Michigan.
"His goals, his focus will be as an everyday player. But he will also throw in high school. He's a Division I pitcher and it'd be crazy not to use him as a pitcher."
But when Krantz plays for the Wolverines, his pitching days are probably over.
"The recruited me solely as an infielder and a shortstop," Krantz said. "I feel my best position is shortstop."
Regardless of where he plays, Hearn said he'll do well at Michigan.
"He's a great leader and a humble leader," Hearn said. "He knows that if he works extremely hard, he can be whatever he wants to be."
Hearn and Krantz, a three-year letter winner for the Trojans, also credited his parents with his success. Krantz added his friends and teammates also deserve a lot of the credit.
Hearn said he isn't surprised that Krantz gave credit to his teammates.
"The good thing about Kevin is he brings everybody along with him," Hearn said. "He doesn't just make himself better, he makes the whole team better and the program better."
Krantz said he's already looking forward to his senior season in the spring.
"Our team will be pretty strong," Krantz said. "We'll have an older team and we'll have a lot of seniors.
"I believe we'll do pretty well. I have some high expectations for the team."